Giants

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

Johnny Cueto dazzles again for Giants, stymies Marlins despite limits

SAN FRANCISCO -- If you're at all surprised by Johnny Cueto's first two starts back from Tommy John surgery, you probably shouldn't be. 

After all, this is a pitcher who had a 0.84 ERA through the end of April last season when he felt constant pain in his elbow and knew that surgery could be in his near future. Cueto found a way to fool hitters back then, and the Giants were always optimistic that he would find his form once he returned. Even by that standard, though, the first two starts have been impressive. 

Cueto threw five more shutout innings Sunday, giving him 10 scoreless frames in his return. He has allowed just four hits, walked three and struck out six. He would have picked up a second win Sunday, but the bullpen temporarily coughed up the lead. The Giants would go on to beat the Marlins 2-1 when Mike Yastrzemski dashed home on a wild pitch in the eighth. 

"I don't know if anybody expected him to get off to a start like this, but you look at how he's throwing the ball and it's Johnny before his surgery," manager Bruce Bochy said. "It's four pitches with command. He commands the ball, cuts it, mixes up his delivery -- and that works."

The Giants needed every scoreless inning, because right now they're out there with a lineup that's providing absolutely no punch. Cueto did his best to make an early Mauricio Dubon homer hold up, and he showed a sense of the moment as his day was coming to a close. 

Cueto had a long fourth inning and was 10 pitches from his predetermined count when he went out for the fifth. The bullpen was humming, but Cueto got through the inning on just six pitches. Then he popped into the dugout and asked Bochy for the sixth. 

"It was like Johnny knew it," Bochy said. "He got some quick outs."

[RELATED: MadBum not thinking about possible final days with Giants]

Bochy joked that he would let Cueto go 120 pitches if possible, but the restraints are still on and will be for the rest of this season. Cueto could get to 80-85 pitches in his next start and said he hopes to be cleared for 100 in his season finale. With the way he's throwing right now, that might be enough to take a shot at a shutout. 

MLB rumors: Padres interested in Madison Bumgarner, to meet with agent

MLB rumors: Padres interested in Madison Bumgarner, to meet with agent

The Giants have their new manager in Gabe Kapler. They have their new general manager in Scott Harris. Now, what will happen to their longtime ace? 

Madison Bumgarner is hitting the open market for the first time as a free agent and he will be highly sought after. 

Yankees general manager Brian Cashman already told the San Francisco Chronicle that he will be talking with MadBum's agent. But, what if Bumgarner stays in the NL West as a Giants opponent?

MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Wednesday night that the Padres are going to meet with Bumgarner's agent Ed Cerulo at the GM meetings, which began Monday and run through Thursday. 

The Padres obviously have clear history with Bumgarner after facing the four-time All-Star for more than a decade. The lefty has faced the Padres 36 times over his career, which is tied for his most outings against any team. MadBum is 13-10 with a 3.40 ERA against the Padres. 

Bumgarner has pitched 18 times at PetCo Park -- 17 starts -- and fared good but not great in San Diego. He has a 5-7 record there with a 3.97 ERA. 

[RELATED: Zaidi sees growth since he last considered Kapler as manager]

The 30-year-old will be a fascinating watch throughout free agency as a former World Series winner who hasn't quite been dominant on the hill the past few seasons. It will also be interesting to see if Bumgarner, the leader of the Pitchers Who Rake club, will want to stay in the NL. 

Stay tuned, the MadBum rumors have only just begun.

Giants' Gabe Kapler shares his side of Dodgers assault controversy

Giants' Gabe Kapler shares his side of Dodgers assault controversy

Gabe Kapler knew the questions were coming Wednesday when he was announced as Giants manager.

During his time as director of player development for the Dodgers, Kapler has been accused of mishandling assault allegations in 2015 against Dodgers minor league players. Kapler, who worked under Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi in LA, knew he was not the popular choice to succeed legendary skipper Bruce Bochy. The assault reporting controversy was something that doesn't sit well with a lot of people, and Kapler and Zaidi both answered numerous questions about the incidents during the 58-minute introductory press conference Wednesday.

Kapler was apologetic, owning up to mistakes he made. He noted any actions he made came from a good place and had the victims' best interest at heart. 

After the press conference, Kapler sat down in an exclusive one-on-one interview with NBC Sports Bay Area's Amy Gutierrez where he discussed the assault reporting controversy, the mistakes he made and explained why there was no cover-up.

"One misconception that needs to be cleared up is that the information was shared immediately up the chain," Kapler told Amy G. "Also the information was shared within player development with the Los Angeles Dodgers. I think that's the most important thing. Usually, when a cover-up happens there's not a lot of communication about it. There's been plenty of emails, and phone conversations and in-person conversations to talk through some of those things."

Kapler then went on to discuss his involvement in the situation and the regrets he has in how it was handled, pointing to his own naivete when dealing with assault allegations.

"The thing I probably want to convey most is the biggest mistake that I made was naively believing that I could handle some of these situations by myself," Kapler told Amy G. "What I should have done is I should have reached out to experts in the field that might have been able to advise on how to handle these situations better. I feel a lot of remorse that -- I'm sorry that I wasn't better equipped to support the victims in these cases. Even though I acted with the best of intentions to try to support and help, I didn't execute on that well.

"I'm really disappointed in myself about that," Kapler continued. "But I also see this as an opportunity. A moment that can lead to a movement and better outcomes and I see this as a real opportunity to do things different the next time around and to figure out ways not just to protect victims of physical assault, not just to protect victims of sexual assault, but to support victims. To use this platform and educate players about how to be better when these situations come up. I take that responsibility very seriously, I know I have a lot to learn about it. I'll always do the best job that I can in getting the most information and counsel and help from the experts in the field."

Earlier this year, Kapler wrote a blog post explaining the incident but took a lot of criticism for not apologizing in the post. He apologized during his introductory press conference and was very candid about the missteps he and the Dodgers took.

"We've had a lot of opportunity to reflect on the situation," Kapler said. "And really challenge ourselves. We didn't do everything that we could possibly do to execute in a way we would have felt most proud of. Thinking back to that time, again, the way I would have been better would have been to give the information to experts in the field who could have actually taken over the process. I naively and in some cases arrogantly felt that I could help by mediating and being a facilitator and I was just in over my skis.

"I didn't have the ability to do that. I didn't have the knowledge to help and I didn't ask for it. That's the thing I regret the most."

Both Dodgers minor leaguers who were involved in the incidents were released by the club, but the incidents were not reported to the authorities because that's what the victims asked for, Kapler told Amy G.

[RELATED: How Kapler plans to handle veteran core of Giants' lineup]

His first day as Giants manager was unlike most first days managers encounter. Kapler knows he has a lot of work to do to earn the trust of the fan base. He also knows that doesn't happen overnight, but believes eventually, through day-in-day-out example, Giants fans will see the real Gabe Kapler. Someone who cares deeply about righting wrongs and putting people before players and the game.

"Who I am is someone who really cares about the well-being of others," Kapler said. "Who I am is someone who cares deeply about social issues in a community like San Francisco and a champion and an advocate for these issues. I can't build that trust in a one-on-one conversation, you have to build through action over time.

"I think I take action steps for the good of society and people every single day. That will get recognized ultimately."