Giants

Jimmy Rollins ready for a new role, and one more shot at October

Jimmy Rollins ready for a new role, and one more shot at October

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jimmy Rollins was born and raised in the East Bay, but these days he lives in the Tampa area. The vast majority of the Rollins family still lives a bridge away from AT&T Park, however, and they're looking forward to possibly watching the longtime Phillies star play at home.

"My parents will be excited -- not for me, they get to see their grandkids," Rollins said. "I'm just like the sideshow."

That's rarely been a phrase used to describe Rollins, who is in camp as a non-roster invitee. He was an MVP in Philadelphia and spent a decade as one of the game's best shortstops, but the role now is a far different one. Rollins hopes to win a job as a backup infielder, meaning the lifelong shortstop will have to find a similar level of comfort at second and third.

“When you look at a guy with his career, one of the best shortstops of his era, he’s being honest and realistic with his situation and he’s looking forward to the challenge,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s the biggest hurdle, I think. He’s got the talent to do it.”

Rollins said the adjustment to third won't be difficult, but it will be a little weird playing second and turning his back to runners. In that respect, he has come to appreciate a new slide rule instituted in large part because of former teammate Chase Utley. 

"Knowing that I can float around, I'm looking forward to it," he said. "Things are going to be different, not necessarily from the left side but from the right."

The Giants are hoping different also means improved. They're looking at an overhaul of their bench, and Rollins is part of a crowded group of veterans playing for a backup infield job. Conor Gillaspie, Kelby Tomlinson and Orlando Calixte checked into camp Wednesday and Korean third baseman Jae-Gyun Hwang is expected to fight for time at third base. Bochy said Rollins, Tomlinson and Calixte will get time at short when Brandon Crawford goes to the World Baseball Classic, along with Eduardo Nuñez, the starter at third base. The coaches discussed the plan for backup infielders during the first staff meeting this week. 

“We have a good idea of what we could have,” Bochy said. “We’re going to stay open-minded, but we have our depth chart. As you see these games played, you’re going to be able to figure it out.”

Some in the group bring power, some bring speed. At his peak, Rollins provided both. But last year, he hit just .221 in 41 games for the White Sox. The year before it was .224 as an everyday shortstop for the Dodgers.

Rollins took a break after the White Sox released him on June 15. He played golf and took his kids to school and enjoyed his first Fourth of July in more than 20 years. He checked another box off the post-playing-days checklist by doing TV work, but Rollins said he never prepared to retire.

"No, no, I've been told to make them take the uniform off your back," he said. "I didn't wear it for long last year, but they didn't take it off my back yet."

Rollins told his agent to see what was out there. For the second straight offseason, the Giants offered a spring invite and a chance to win a backup job. He wasn't ready to embrace the role after the 2015 season, but a year later -- and a month after his 38th birthday -- Rollins signed with the Giants. 

The proximity to home was one draw, but Rollins, who watched a potential Phillies dynasty turn into a rebuild, said playing for a winner was just as important. The Giants knocked his Phillies out of the NLCS in 2010. Seven years later, their goal remains the same.

“That’s what motivates me to come play, knowing every time you get out there on that field you’re getting a step closer to the playoffs and to get to that point to win a championship,” Rollins said. “This is a team that has proven that during their run this decade. I’ve been a victim to it. They’re geared up to win right now, all the time, and that was very important.”

Bruce Bochy not worried that he'll be a 'lame duck' manager in 2019

Bruce Bochy not worried that he'll be a 'lame duck' manager in 2019

SAN FRANCISCO — In the ninth inning of an ugly loss to the Padres on Monday, the camera panned over to Giants manager Bruce Bochy. He was scowling at the home plate umpire after a call he didn’t agree with. 

You can see, then, why Bochy laughed Tuesday when asked if he has ever lost the competitive fire in the dugout. 

“You ask a couple of guys last night who were in the dugout,” he said, smiling. “If I did (lose my fire) I wouldn’t be here. I would not be here. I love what I’m doing and want to be back and have another shot at the postseason.”

Of the three most visible faces on the baseball side of the organization, Bochy is the only one not undergoing changes. General manager Bobby Evans was let go Monday and vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean will soon start interviewing candidates to take the baseball ops slot that reports directly to ownership. 

The manager, though, is under contract, and on Monday, team president and CEO Larry Baer said Bochy will be back. That was relayed to Bochy from Baer and Sabean. In turn, Bochy told the two that he’s not at all concerned about the fact that he’s going into the last year of his contract and there have been no extension talks. He does not consider himself a lame duck.

“I don’t want them to have that on their plate either, and I’ve told them that,” Bochy said. “I’m signed and I’m good right now. Let’s just concentrate on what we need to do and that’s make this team better. I have zero concerns about (my contract).”

Next season will be Bochy’s 13th with the Giants. He spent a dozen years in San Diego and only went through one GM change, and in his first dozen years here, it has been the same. Even with the one change here, there was no drama. Evans was promoted to take Sabean’s job in 2015. Now, Evans is gone, and Bochy will have to work with a new head of baseball operations. This person may eventually want their own handpicked manager, but for at least a year, Bochy will be the choice. He said he’s not at all concerned about how a new partnership may work. His focus is on the field.

“My job is to make it work,” he said.

POLL: Giants memorable moments -- Winning '10 World Series vs. Winning '14 World Series

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AP

POLL: Giants memorable moments -- Winning '10 World Series vs. Winning '14 World Series

NBC Sports Bay Area is looking back at the Giants' 60 Memorable Moments since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco. Tune into Pregame Live at 6 p.m. to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and Padres conclude on Friday, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will be crowned most memorable!

1. Giants defeat Rangers in 2010 World Series thanks to Edgar Renteria's three-run homer (New winner -- Defeated Travis Ishikawa's walk-off homer wins 2014 NL Pennant)

(From former Giants outfielder and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Andres Torres)

I got to the field early, around 1:30pm because it was the World Series and you're pumped. Around 3pm, Edgar came to me and said 'Andres, I'm going to hit a homer today.' I'm like 'Okay, I believe him.'

Then we had batting practice, we came in, had something to eat, then we had soft-toss as we got closer to the game. And Edgar said to me 'Remember, I told you I'm going to hit a homer.'

Then in the seventh inning, he hits it, and we see the outfielder going back and back and back and then the ball's gone!!!

I was so pumped and when he came back to the dugout from homeplate, I started yelling in Spanish 'You told me you were going to do it. You told me you were going to do it.' I said it twice because he said it to me twice that he was going to do it. We were so pumped!!!

It was amazing. He called it twice, twice!!! We were World Champions and he was the MVP and it was amazing. Edgar was a leader in the clubhouse. He played a long time and made sure we were all doing the right things, especially me and Pablo (Sandoval). He's a great friend and that was a special moment, I loved it...it was like wow!! It was so cool!!!

VS.

2. Giants defeat Royals in 2014 World Series, Madison Bumgarner closes Game 7 with five shutout innings of relief

(From Alex Pavlovic)

A few minutes after he threw a 119-pitch shutout in Game 5 of the 2014 World Series, Madison Bumgarner was approached by Royals manager Ned Yost. The two were headed in opposite directions as they gave postgame interviews, but Yost wanted to take a moment to congratulate Bumgarner. 

"Great game," he told him. "You know what? I sure am glad I don't have to see you again."

Bumgarner smiled. He had one more trick up his sleeve that month, and it would win the Giants a third World Series, stun the baseball world, and cement the left-hander's place as the best big-game pitcher of his generation. 

Bumgarner came out of the bullpen in Kauffman Stadium in Game 7 and threw 68 pitches over five innings, carrying an early 3-2 lead all the way to the finish line. Essentially making a second start in four days, Bumgarner allowed two hits and struck out four, finishing one of the best postseason runs in baseball history. He earned a five-inning save, lowering his 2014 postseason ERA to 1.03 over an astounding 52 2/3 innings. 

"As soon as I saw him warming up and we had the lead, I knew it was over," said Game 7 starter Tim Hudson. "I knew the big fella was going to get it done."

Hudson lasted just 1 2/3 innings before turning it over to Jeremy Affeldt, who got the ball to Bumgarner. The Giants scored twice in the second and took the lead on Michael Morse's single in the fourth. Joe Panik had the defensive highlight of the night, diving and glove-flipping to Brandon Crawford to start a huge double play in the third. From there, it was the Bumgarner show. 

A misplay in the outfield put Alex Gordon on third with two down in the ninth, but Salvador Perez popped up. The Giants had a third title in five years. 

"This group of warriors continues to amaze me," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Nobody wanted it more than them."

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