Giants

Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle

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AP

Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants nearly left Scottsdale unscathed. Instead they'll leave with an injured No. 3 starter, but the news on Jeff Samardzija late Thursday night was good news. 

Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Samardzija has a strained pectoral muscle that will sideline him for the start of the season. But given that Samardzija, who has had a rough spring, went for an MRI on his shoulder a week before the season opener, team officials have to be breathing a sigh of relief. 

"He'll go a week without throwing the ball and then crank it back up," Bochy told reporters, including Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. "It should't take long to get him back on the mound so it's good news."

Samardzija was supposed to take the ball next Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the Giants will rely on two young pitchers and a non-roster invitee at the back end of their rotation. The injury ends a three-way race for the final two spots between Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Derek Holland. The Giants could use all three in the rotation until Samardzija is healthy, or they could skip their No. 5 starter and move one of the pitchers into the bullpen. 

Because the Giants have two off days before their seventh game, Madison Bumgarner can line up to pitch three of the first nine games. The Giants have been considering that all spring, although they have yet to publicly announce a decision one way or the other. Bumgarner said early in camp that he would be up to the challenge, and given how sharp he was all spring, that might be the best way to tread water until Samardzija is cleared to return to the rotation.

Will Smith thanks Giants fans, Bruce Bochy after signing with Braves

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USATSI

Will Smith thanks Giants fans, Bruce Bochy after signing with Braves

Will Smith spent the last three-and-a-half years with the Giants. He missed one of those seasons to Tommy John surgery, but certainly will never forget his time in San Francisco. 

Smith, 30, signed a three-year, $39 million contract on Thursday to go home and join the Braves. The veteran reliever expressed his gratitude to Giants fans with a message sent to NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy Gutierrez later that night. 

Smith went out of his way to thank the Giants, their fans, the training staff and former manager Bruce Bochy. 

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Talked to @white_willy13 about his time with the @sfgiants. He will be missed and I want to personally wish him all the best with the @braves. Here’s what he wanted to say to the fans, the team and the Giants organization: I’d like to thank the Giants for giving me the opportunity that they did back in 2016.. it was my first taste of the playoffs I’ve had in my career and it is something I’ll never forget. The Giants are a first class organization hands down and welcomed me and my family with the utmost respect. Without their training staff, coming back from TJ surgery would not have been possible and for that I am forever thankful. Furthermore, I can never express the gratitude I have for Boch. Playing for him was an absolute honor. To my teammates... thank you for having my back on and off the field. Thank you for thinking as highly of me as I do of you and honoring me with the Willie Mac award. Something I will forever have and take with me from my time with you guys. Thank you for all the good times. And to the fans thank you for the constant support and loyalty. I’ll never forget my time wearing the orange and black. #BeatLA

A post shared by Amy Gutierrez (@amyg) on

San Francisco acquired Smith from the Brewers on Aug. 1, 2016, right before the MLB trade deadline. When healthy, he was Mr. Reliable for the Giants. 

[RELATED: How Smith signing with Braves affects the Giants' bullpen]

Smith made his first All-Star Game appearance this past season with San Francisco. He finished the year with a perfect 6-0 record, 2.76 ERA and had 34 saves. 

Over his two-and-a-half seasons on the Giants, Smith went 9-4 with a 2.70 ERA and saved 48 games.

MLB rumors: Giants have checked in with Marcell Ozuna representatives

MLB rumors: Giants have checked in with Marcell Ozuna representatives

The Giants finally gave fans a reason to be excited about their outfielders last season after years of disappointment.

They found a diamond in the rough with Mike Yastrzemski, and Kevin Pillar is expected back next year after knocking 21 homers and bringing defensive highlights every night. And yet, the outfield still has question marks. 

It's unclear this early in free agency if new general manager Scott Harris will explore adding a veteran bat to the mix. Nevertheless, the Giants reportedly have eyed one of the bigger names on the open market. 

MLB Network's Jon Morosi reported Wednesday night that the Giants "have at least checked in with the representatives" for free agent outfielder Marcell Ozuna. This isn't the first time the Giants have been tied to Ozuna this offseason, either. 

Earlier this month, MLB Trade Rumors predicted Ozuna to sign a three-year, $45 million contract with San Francisco. His age -- he turned 29 years old two days ago -- and power (29 homers in 2019) make plenty of sense for the Giants to explore. 

[RELATED: How Smith signing with Braves affects the Giants' bullpen]

Ozuna was handed a qualifying offer from the Cardinals going into this offseason, and declined it on Thursday. Any team that signs Ozuna would lose a draft pick next June, but not their first-round pick. However, the Giants will gain a draft pick from the Braves signing Will Smith, and the same goes for any team that signs Madison Bumgarner

Since 2014, Ozuna has averaged 24 homers per season. He easily would be the Giants' biggest power threat right away, something San Francisco has lacked for years.