Giants

Giants

SAN FRANCISCO -- The dream started when he was drafted by the Giants seven years ago, and on Sept. 29, 2015, Mac Williamson took the field at Oracle Park, which then was known by different name, for the first time. He has played left field and right at the park, hit homers there, gone through highs and lows. 

Williamson has an appreciation for the ballpark, how beautiful and unique it is. But he also really would like to change part of it. 

On the day he was called back up, Williamson left no doubt about how he feels about the bullpen mounds that ruined his last opportunity and very nearly washed him out of the organization. He spoke passionately, giving reasons why the Giants need to move their bullpen mounds away from the field. 

"Oracle has a lot of unique features about it, but in my opinion I don't think any feature is unique enough to put a player at risk," Williamson said. "It's not that cool or special or fun, and I know there's a lot of talk about how they've been there a long time and (the Giants) have won with them there and now all of a sudden they're losing and this, that, and the other, but that's not the point.

"The point isn't to move them so we can win or move them so it's easier to hit home runs. Sure, that's a byproduct of it, but in my opinion it's move them for safety."

 

Williamson tripped on the bullpen mound adjacent to left field last April 24 while trying to catch a Bryce Harper pop-up with two on and two outs in a tie game. He slammed into the wall separating the field from the seats and suffered a concussion. Looking back at the collision, perhaps it's lucky the injuries weren't worse. 

Regardless, the concussion sent Williamson to the IL (then called the DL) and he was never the same when he returned, dealing with symptoms into the fall. Williamson ended up back in the minors and had his season end prematurely so he could try to get healthy. 

The Giants had a similar scare recently when Steven Duggar went down on the other side of the field. Duggar suffered just a minor wrist injury that kept him off the field for just a couple of days. Williamson said it's not as easy as just telling players to avoid the mounds. He has heard from plenty of people who suggest taking it easy, but instincts take over. 

"Let's be real, if I didn't go after that ball last year and let it drop, and then Harper hit a three-run home run, I'm probably going back to Sacramento anyway," he said. "Once I get in between the lines I play as hard as I can."

The Giants already have begun discussions about moving the fences -- possibly to Triples Alley -- which would make the park a bit more hitter-friendly. Williamson's injury was an early reason for discussions, and there was an increased sense of urgency after Duggar also got hurt. It seems likely that the bullpens will be elsewhere next season.

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Where? That doesn't really matter to the players. 

"There's room, somewhere," Williamson said. "You take out some seats, and yeah it sucks, and you've got less capacity for fans, but you've got safety for your players. You can't say you don't have room, in my opinion. There may not be an ideal spot for it but at the end of the day if it's important enough to you, you find it and get it done."