Giants

Giants Rule 5 pick Travis Bergen finally gets to pitch in Toronto

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Giants Rule 5 pick Travis Bergen finally gets to pitch in Toronto

SAN FRANCISCO -- Kevin Pillar was emotional on his way out of Toronto earlier this month, and most of the attention will be on the center fielder as the Giants play two with the young Blue Jays. But the trip to the Rogers Centre will be just as meaningful for another Giant, albeit in a much different way.

From the moment the Blue Jays took him in the seventh round in 2015, lefty Travis Bergen dreamed of playing in Toronto. He never even visited the city while with the organization, always stuck rehabbing or working his way through the low minors. But he'll be in the bullpen tonight, having won a job this spring and shown enough promise through his first month that the Giants have kept the Rule 5 pick around. 

"It's going to be pretty cool," Bergen said. "I guess I envisioned myself playing in the big leagues with them when I was drafted, and the opportunity that I got here (with the Giants) has been something that I never would have dreamed of."

That opportunity never came in Toronto because of injuries. Bergen pitched just 59 times in the minors before the Giants scooped him up in the December Rule 5 Draft, impressed by his eye-popping numbers and a fastball that's deceptive despite sitting around 90 mph. 

So far it looks like a solid evaluation. Bergen made the club with a big spring, and although he returns to Toronto with a 7.11 ERA, he mostly has pitched well. Bergen allowed two homers and four runs in one outing against the Nationals but otherwise has allowed just one run since making the leap from Double-A. 

Pitching coach Curt Young said Bergen is working on a changeup in bullpen sessions, but so far he has been a two-pitch guy. He throws a good curveball 30 percent of the time and his fastball 70 percent. It's not overpowering by any means, but hitters have always had a hard time squaring it up.

"He has good arm speed and sells it well, and he gets good spin on the baseball," Young said of the fastball. "It's the true perfect elevation of a fastball. He throws it up in the zone really well."

Bergen said he hasn't gotten too deep into the analytics of why his two pitches work, preferring to focus on how to prepare as a big leaguer. He spends plenty of time learning from the veterans in the bullpen, and he singled out Mark Melancon as one player who has helped him learn how to set up hitters. 

This Giants bullpen, with veteran lefties like Will Smith and Tony Watson alongside Melancon, Sam Dyson and others, is a hell of a place for a young pitcher to learn. But that could change this summer. Smith and Watson will be trade chips, and Bergen could soon find himself in high-pressure spots with a lefty at the plate. 

[RELATED: Former Giant Pence finding success in Texas with new swing]

For now, manager Bruce Bochy is easing him in, but he said he doesn't see Bergen as a specialist. He has the equipment to get lefties and righties out, and the Giants are more than pleased with their pick. 

"You look at what he had to go through this spring, the pressure on these guys as a Rule 5 pick," Bochy said. "You have to make the club or go back, and he performed really well. I think it says a lot about the kid and his makeup."

Logan Webb looks to make a statement at end of rookie season

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Logan Webb looks to make a statement at end of rookie season

ATLANTA -- Logan Webb smiled Sunday afternoon and said he has adjusted to facing players he grew up watching. No longer does he stand on the mound and think, "Holy cow, I'm facing Manny Machado." But Webb can still get wide-eyed at times. 

The 22-year-old knows that plenty of former Giants are coming into town next week to celebrate Bruce Bochy, and he said he hopes to meet Jonathan Sanchez or Pat Burrell or ...

"Maybe Timmy?" Webb asked reporters. 

Lincecum hasn't shown up at the park in years, but the Giants are quietly optimistic that he will next weekend. If No. 55 does enter the clubhouse, Webb won't just be a fan. He'll be part of the process, a 22-year-old rookie set to face the Dodgers during Bochy's final series as manager. 

"I'm excited to see all the other stuff and take it all in," Webb said. "There are not many guys like (Bochy) who come around."

Webb has gotten to make seven starts for Bochy and Sunday's was the best. He limited the NL East champion Braves to two hits and one run over a career-high six innings. The Giants won 4-1 in Bochy's final road game. 

"I felt like today I was finally able to put it all together," Webb said. "I've got a lot more work to do but I felt a lot more confident and had command of all my pitches."

Webb mixed it up well, throwing 51 fastballs, 21 slurves and 18 changeups. He got 13 swinging strikes and had the Braves off balance all afternoon. Bochy said Webb is more polished than he anticipated.

"He's known for kind of a power sinker, but I think he's just getting better and better with his secondary pitches," Bochy said. "They're better than I thought. He's got a good breaking ball and changeup. He's got the weapons and arsenal to pitch up here because he's got command, too."

Webb walked two on Sunday and has issued two-or-fewer free passes in six of his seven starts. That command, plus the raw stuff, has kept him in the rotation after a promotion in mid-August. A season that was extremely trying early on is ending on a high note, and Webb hopes to keep it going. He's well aware that every pitch he throws is another chance to impress a front office that will look to build a strong rotation this winter. 

"I think all the young guys, that's what we're hoping to do," Webb said. "Obviously you want to do well for now, but we also set ourselves up for the future as well."

Former Giant Adam Duvall still hitting for power in new home

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Former Giant Adam Duvall still hitting for power in new home

ATLANTA -- It has slowed over time, but for a couple of years, Adam Duvall was The One Who Got Away for much of the Giants' fan base.

An organization that's had decades of trouble developing homegrown outfielders traded Duvall to the Reds and watched him hit 64 total homers in 2016 and 2017, and make an All-Star team. Duvall was far from Oracle Park, but as he broke through in Cincinnati, he was aware that fans grumbled about the deal.

"I have extended family [in the Bay Area] and they would talk about it," he said Friday. "I got an opportunity with the Reds to get a lot of playing time. For being a young guy, that was good for me to get some playing time and show what I could do."

The mistake the Giants made wasn't necessarily underestimating the power -- Duvall always had hit homers in the minors, including 30 in a season with High-A San Jose. The Giants simply didn't believe he could handle left field, and with Matt Duffy at third, they included Duvall in a 2015 deadline trade for Mike Leake. They wanted more consistent starting pitching. It didn't work out that way. 

Duvall's run in Cincinnati ended last year, when the home-run power wasn't enough to make up for a .205 average and .286 OBP. But he has found a role with the Braves, starting 23 games in the outfield and posting a .863 OPS. His homer against his old team Saturday night was his ninth in 103 at-bats for the NL East champs.

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The Braves clinched Friday night against some players Duvall considered mentors. Before Friday's game, Duvall said he's grateful for the work the Giants did in preparing him for the big leagues. He pointed to Buster Posey and Ryan Vogelsong -- who is coaching with the Giants this weekend -- as two former teammates who were particularly helpful. 

"That was a big, big part of my career when I first got introduced to playing in the big leagues," Duvall said. "They were a very professional group."