Pablo Sandoval and Hunter Pence made their spring debuts for the Giants on Monday, batting third and fourth respectively in the lineup. One day later, a former Giants fan favorite and World Series teammate of Pence and Sandoval, played shortstop against San Francisco at Scottsdale Stadium.
Matt Duffy received a loud ovation from Giants fans when he stepped to the plate for the Texas Rangers in the top of the first inning. Giants fans clamored for the team to bring Duffy back to the Bay when the Tampa Bay Rays let him go in November. And it turns out the Giants did make a call.
Duffy told the San Francisco Chronicle's Henry Schulman on Tuesday that the Giants called late in the offseason to "check in." Duffy called the conversation brief and he wound up signing a minor league contract with the Rangers on Jan. 30.
“With the (Giants) roster construction, the turnover and a lot of uncertainty with the organization right now, I thought the picture looked a little more clear here in Texas," Duffy told Schulman.
Even though Duffy didn't return to the Giants, playing in San Francisco helped him sign with the Rangers. Manager Chris Woodward was the Los Angeles Dodgers' third base coach when Duffy manned the hot corner for the Giants, and the two always found themselves in conversation. Pence also gave Duffy a strong recommendation regarding Woodward.
Duffy is excited to be with the Rangers as he fights for a roster spot, though he didn't shy away from how much the love from Giants fans still means to him.
“It’s a good feeling to be wanted and to be loved,” Duffy said to Schulman. “It’s obviously something we care about. I’m not going to sit here and pretend it doesn’t mean a lot to be embraced by the city and the fans like they have. Coming back here is nothing but fond memories."
Injuries hampered Duffy after the Giants sent him to Tampa Bay. He missed all of the 2017 season and only played in 46 games last year as he has dealt with multiple foot and leg injuries.