How Giants relievers Reyes Moronta, Will Smith have formed special bond

How Giants relievers Reyes Moronta, Will Smith have formed special bond

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you get to the park early enough before a night game you'll see Giants closer Will Smith running 10 sprints along the warning track, with Reyes Moronta following along the whole way. A couple hours later, they often come out to play catch with one another, and when batting practice is over, there is a race back to the dugout. 

During games, Smith sits next to his new setup man and talks about everything from family to the importance of avoiding a leadoff walk. On team flights, the 30-year-old lefty from Georgia and 26-year-old righty from the Dominican Republic are side by side. 

Smith and Moronta have formed one of the closer bonds on the roster, but when you ask Smith how it started, he can't pinpoint a moment that stands out. Instead, he simply laughs and starts telling a story about the player he calls Mo. 

"He just showed up the first day and kind of followed me around for the rest of the day," Smith said, smiling. "And then we just kind of built this relationship day by day. It just kind of happened one day and now it is what it is today."

What Smith and Moronta have today is a special bond that survived an initial language barrier, ups and downs for both players -- including Tommy John surgery for Smith -- and a trade deadline scare this July. With Sam Dyson in Minnesota and Tony Watson struggling, they are the undisputed last two men standing in Bruce Bochy's bullpen. 

Smith was the All-Star this year, but Moronta is quietly having another strong season. He has a 2.80 ERA in 52 appearances and is striking out 11.2 batters per nine innings. 

Moronta has been effective from the day he showed up in 2017, posting a 2.64 ERA. Over time the other relievers have watched him grow as a pitcher. They have tried to help as much as possible, too. 

When Smith came up as a rookie with the Brewers, he had Francisco Rodriguez on one side in the clubhouse and Jonathan Broxton on the other. Smith would have to go over every outing with Rodriguez, and while his discussions with Moronta aren't quite that scheduled, the two do spend plenty of time breaking down appearances, and just as importantly, discussing what to do between them.

It can be hard for a young reliever to admit that anything is wrong physically, and Smith and others have tried to encourage Moronta to speak up more when something is barking. 

"Hey, these guys (the training staff) are here to take care of you," Smith said. "As a bullpen guy the only day you're going to feel 100 percent is the first day of spring training. You hope to be at 85 percent, 90 percent most days, and that's what we've tried to tell him. You're not going to feel great every day but if you believe you can get through it, you do. If you don't, you have to say something. 

"You do see him in the training room a little more now. Being the young guy in the training room, you don't want to be in there. But then (the veterans) finally kind of push you in there." 

Moronta finished third on the staff in appearances last year and is again third this season. He said Smith's greatest gift has been helping him move on from bad outings. 

"He taught me to trust myself and forget what happens today," Moronta said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. "If you have a bad outing, let it go and move on. If you keep thinking about the bad things, you're not going to grow and you're not going to learn. You're not going to last."

Moronta looks like he certainly will, and if Smith moves on in free agency he should get the first crack at the ninth inning. But for now the two continue to enjoy their time together.

For much of Moronta's stint in the bullpen, he has been the only pitcher with Latin roots. Predictably, the veterans have taught him plenty of English words and phrases. Moronta has returned the favor with Spanish. And because you get bored over three hours in a bullpen, not everything is from the textbooks. 

[RELATED: How close Sabathia came to signing with Giants ... twice]

"We have fun down there. He's been the only Latin in the bullpen for a while and he fits in with all of us down there," Smith said. "We were teaching him stuff -- probably not the best stuff in the world -- and he was teaching us. But we also definitely have baseball talks. The only thing we had in common (at first) is baseball and that's kind of where it started.

"We had our common bond of baseball and it went from there."

Joe Maddon agrees to three-year contract to be Angels' next manager

Joe Maddon agrees to three-year contract to be Angels' next manager

Joe Maddon quickly found a new home. The former Cubs manager has agreed to be the next manager of the Angels, the team announced Wednesday. 

ESPN Chicago's Jesse Rogers reported Wednesday that Maddon's contract with the Angels is a three-year deal worth between $12-15 million. 

Maddon, a three-time Manager of the Year, seemed like he could never leave Chicago after leading the Cubs to their first World Series title in 2016, breaking a 108-year drought. But the Cubs fired Maddon at the end of September after they failed to make the playoffs. 

Speculation quickly arose that Maddon could be a possible replacement for the retiring Bruce Bochy as the Giants' next manager. But as soon as those rumors swirled, it became clear he had his eyes on Mike Trout and the Halos. 

This isn't Maddon's first time with the Angels, either. He spent four seasons in the minors with the organization as a catcher, and began his coaching career with them in 1979. He joined the Angels' major league staff in 1994 and was twice the team's interim manager. 

[RELATED: Source: Giants interested in Cubs' Venable for manager job]

Maddon has a career regular-season record of 1,252-1,068 as a manager between the Angels, Rays and Cubs. He also has gone 32-35 in the playoffs. 

This crosses one big name off the market among potential candidates for the Giants as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and the rest of the front office continues their search for a manager in San Francisco.

Ex-Giant Kevin Frandsen describes time Bruce Bochy bashed TV with bat

Ex-Giant Kevin Frandsen describes time Bruce Bochy bashed TV with bat

Not all of us remember what it was like to watch Bruce Bochy hitting as an MLB player. His days wielding a baseball bat ended in 1987.

Or did they ... ?

The former Giants manager once lost his cool and took it out on a clubhouse TV, as former Giants infielder Kevin Frandsen explained.

“My locker was right there, right when you walked into the clubhouse, straight on,” Frandsen said in an interview with KNBR. “Bochy walks in … he’s not graceful when he walks, he just kind of lumbers in there and he was pissed. And we knew he was pissed. We were playing bad."

Frandsen spent five total seasons across his nine-year career with the Giants, including 2007-2009 with Bochy at the helm. Frandsen admitted he had "screwed up" a couple of games before, but this tirade didn't appear to be related to that, making him wonder why Bochy was as mad as he was.

"I’m like ‘Man, I’m good, what’s he all pissed about’ -- he’s walking towards me," Frandsen added. "This is not good. He just goes right by me, into my locker and there’s my bat that’s sitting right there, and he looks at it and gives me like a grunt, the old grunt that he does."

“He walks over to the TV and he gives it one whack. It doesn’t go. It pisses him off even more, and he obliterates the next screen. He walked back over (to Frandsen’s locker), said maybe one little thing, puts the bat back in the locker and walks right to his office."

So what was the reason that Bochy was so upset? Golden Tee, the golf arcade game.

Frandsen, now an announcer for the Philadelphia Phillies, admitted that the players were playing the arcade game in the back until 7:00, for a 7:15 game. All TVs were supposed to be off starting around 6:30 - 6:45.

The Giants didn't have a ton of rules, but this rule was one that clearly couldn't be broken, Frandsen added. 

[RELATED: Why Pillar could be non-tendered this offseason]

After the fiasco, they heard Bochy loud and clear.

“Everyone’s sitting there like, ‘Oh yeah, we got the message! Hey, TVs off 6:45 here we go fellas!’ I mean it was frightening. That’s Boch. There you go.”