Mike Krukow on Frank Robinson: 'He made you better. He made you tougher.'

Mike Krukow on Frank Robinson: 'He made you better. He made you tougher.'

SAN FRANCISCO -- On Opening Day of the 1983 season, Mike Krukow took the ball knowing that he was already in a hole with his manager. Frank Robinson wasn’t a fan of the trade that brought Krukow over from the Phillies, and he wasn’t shy about it, particularly when Krukow had a rough spring. 

Before Krukow could begin his work that day, he watched as actor Yul Brynner threw out the first pitch in front of more than 50,000 fans at Candlestick Park. 

“He comes trotting out and grabs the ball and it looks like it’s the first time he’s had a baseball in his hand,” Krukow recalled Thursday. “He goes into his imaginary windup that I think he thought he was nailing and he throws a three-hopper to the plate.”

A short while later, Robinson met Krukow on that same mound. The debut hadn’t gone well. Krukow’s elbow was barking and he allowed four runs in 1 1/3 innings. 

“Frank comes out there and takes the ball and says, ‘Yul Brynner’ had better (stuff) than you did,’” Krukow said.

Robinson was intense and unapologetic, but on Thursday, a few hours after the news of his passing, a couple of his former Giants players remembered him as someone who, above all, made them better. 

“If you were a guy that needed a rah-rah speech, he wasn’t your guy. If you went out and pitched a shutout with 10 strikeouts, that’s your job. That’s your job,” Krukow said. “But if you didn’t do your work or you were lazy, that’s when you’d hear from him. He made you better. He made you tougher. He toughened up a bunch of guys that had him here.”

Bill Laskey, who also pitched for Robinson’s Giants teams, said the Hall of Fame hitter taught him how to be a more effective pitcher. Robinson led the league in hit-by-pitches seven times and he forced his pitchers to learn how to throw strikes on the inside part of the plate. 

“He was very aggressive with his pitchers, very aggressive with his hitters,” Laskey said. “He forced me to pitch inside. That was one of his biggest pet peeves for all of his young pitchers. He said that if you don’t learn how to pitch inside, you won’t last in the big leagues.”

Robinson managed the Giants from 1981-84. He became the first African American to manage in the National League, and despite the fact that the vast majority of his legendary career was spent elsewhere, he remained an occasional presence at Giants games. In 2017, the organization honored Robinson during a pregame ceremony that included Willie Mays, Willie McCovey and Barry Bonds. 

Krukow and broadcast partner Duane Kuiper often spoke fondly of Robinson during broadcasts. They both played for him, and that left a lasting impact. 

[RELATED: Why Krukow says Harper would bring 'no red flags']

“He was very professional,” Krukow said. “No matter what, at the end of the year he would be there and he would reach out and shake your hand.”

As Giants wait for Harper decision, they continue to discuss trade options


As Giants wait for Harper decision, they continue to discuss trade options

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For every move the Giants have made over the past week, the response from an anxious fan base has been the same.

“Uhhh, that dude isn’t Bryce Harper.”

The biggest name on the market remains on the market, but what do the Giants do if Harper chooses the Phillies or Nationals or Padres or some mystery team? Farhan Zaidi is working on Plan B, too, and that could involved remaining free agents or trades. The Giants do still need help in their outfield. 

“We’ve had trade conversations with teams about certain players that started in 2018 that kind of are continuing now,” Zaidi said. “It’s a little bit of a function of the slow market. I think with anything that’s a hypothetical, it’s a good idea to have alternatives and not put all your eggs in any one basket.”

The Giants won’t reach into any other basket until Harper has made a decision. There’s no available player that would match that production, but this offseason started with more humble goals and there are plenty of options on the trade market. If the Giants don’t get Harper, they seem well positioned to quickly pivot. 

In the meantime, Zaidi is padding out the rest of the roster. All offseason, he said he wanted catching depth. Stephen Vogt and Rene Rivera signed in the span of four days. Zaidi wanted a versatile infield piece, too, and Yangervis Solarte is on his way. He wanted a couple of outfielders, and Gerardo Parra fills one hole. 

Zaidi will always tinker. That’s his nature. But he doesn’t want to add too many more players on non-roster deals because he wants the recent additions and the younger players in house already to have a real opportunity to compete this spring. That was promised to the players already here, so don’t expect too many more who fit the mold of a Parra or Solarte. 

“We want competition but don’t want this to be a reality show or tryout camp,” Zaidi said. “You try to draw the line between feeling good about the guys you have but also not going overboard.”

Report: Giants agree to minor league deal with veteran outfielder Craig Gentry


Report: Giants agree to minor league deal with veteran outfielder Craig Gentry

Well, it happened. The Giants signed an outfielder who previously played in the D.C. area.

It's not Bryce Harper.

The Giants have agreed to a minor league deal with veteran Craig Gentry according to Andersen Pickard of MLB Daily Dish:

MLB Trade Rumors confirmed the report

The deal also includes an invite to spring training.

NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic reports Gentry will not be in big league camp. He will head to minor league camp, but could play in a couple of Cactus League games. 

Gentry has ten Major League seasons under his belt including the last two seasons with the Orioles where he slashed a .265/.326/.688 line before he was released in September of last year.

And an important fun nugget you need to know is the 35-year-old's nickname is "Kitten Face," compliments of Michael Gruber and his former roommate, Sean Bass.

The two were watching a Rangers game in 2011 when Gentry Kitten Face was with Texas and Gruber made a comment on how the well-manicured beard the outfielder was sporting reminded him of a kitten. 

Boom -- a legend was born.

And if you're wondering how Gentry feels about the nickname. Well, he talked about it on the back of one of his Topps cards:

(Thank you, Gruber, for showing this to us).

It's true. If they make a shirt out of it, you have to ride that out. 

At least we know he can pull off the orange and black colors.