Giants

MLB rumors: Dodgers shifting focus to Madison Bumgarner in free agency

MLB rumors: Dodgers shifting focus to Madison Bumgarner in free agency

Heading into free agency, the Giants made it clear that Madison Bumgarner had earned the right to go anywhere he wanted. A couple days into the Winter Meetings, that sentiment likely remains the same, but they'd be lying if they said they didn't have a preference where he ended up.

Now that Gerrit Cole reportedly has agreed to a record-breaking nine-year contract with the New York Yankees, San Francisco apparently inched closer to its greatest nightmare.

The rival Dodgers were considered to be a finalist for Cole, and apparently they didn't waste any time pivoting once the news broke. Giants fans really, really, really won't want to hear the direction in which Los Angeles reportedly is pivoting, though, according to The Athletic's Ken Rosenthal.

If you need to go rinse the vomit taste out of your mouth, go for it. You're certainly not the only Giants fan doing so.

After everything Bumgarner achieved in San Francisco, it's unbearable to think of him exchanging his orange and black for Dodger blue. I mean, think of all the run-ins Bumgarner has had with LA over the years. Yaisel Puig. Max Muncy. Go get it out of the ocean? How about we just get this rumor out of here.

Yuck.

[RELATED: New Giants prospect Wilson already hates rival Dodgers]

Bumgarner is expected to receive a contract in excess of $100 million, and the Dodgers certainly have the ability to afford him. So do the Giants, though, and as NBC Sports Bay Area's Alex Pavlovic notes, they might be forced to revisit the situation due to their rival's reported interest.

And guess which two teams face each other on Opening Day?

The Giants are used to seeing MadBum take the mound on the first day of the season. For the sake of all that is good and holy, let's hope they don't have to learn what it's like to go against him in that situation.

Why the Giants will use an in-game interpreter for native Spanish speakers

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Why the Giants will use an in-game interpreter for native Spanish speakers

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Picture this scenario. The Giants have a one-run lead in the seventh inning at Oracle Park, with a young reliever trying to strand a runner on second and two outs. He came to the United States when he was 17, and while his English has improved, he still is not close to being fluent. In a huge spot, with 30,000 people staring down at him, the pitcher is trying to communicate his pitch preference in a language he has not yet mastered, to a catcher and a manager who can chat with him, but did not grow up speaking the same language. 

The Gabe Kapler Era has thus far been dominated by curiosity, by a desire to find a different and more efficient way to do things. As Kapler sits around with his 13-person coaching staff, the question is often a simple one.

Is there a better way to do this?

During one meeting, Kapler and bench coach Kai Correa asked quality assurance coach Nick Ortiz if there was a better way to communicate with Spanish-speaking pitchers during games. The Giants asked for and received permission to have Ortiz in the dugout as an in-game interpreter. He will not replace one of the seven coaches allowed in the dugout per MLB rules, but he will be more visible than most of them. Every time Kapler or pitching coach Andrew Bailey goes out to the mound to speak to a pitcher whose first language was Spanish, Ortiz will come along as an interpreter. 

"It's something that definitely will make an impact," Ortiz said. "Every time you try to bring information to someone, you want to make sure they have a 100 percent understanding of what you're trying to do."

Once you hear the idea, you wonder why teams haven't always done it this way. When an organization signs a veteran from Japan or South Korea, he always gets his own interpreter, someone to walk to the mound with the manager and help with communication. But for some reason, teams have not done that with Spanish-speaking players. 

The new-look Giants asked a simple question: Why? Why are we putting these players at a disadvantage?

"It feels really intuitive, because there are so many nuances in those conversations on the mound, between a pitching coach and a pitcher, and to some degree when you're taking a pitcher out of the game as a manager," Kapler said. "You really want to send a concise message and you want not just the words to be translated, but the intent of those words to be communicated effectively. When the adrenaline is running high, I think it's easier to digest when something is shared with you in your native language. It does feel really intuitive and like something that we really want to experiment with."

It wasn't until 2016 that MLB required every team to have full-time Spanish language interpreters. The Giants use Erwin Higueros, a member of the organization's broadcast team and PR staff for interviews, but he is not in the dugout or clubhouse during games. Before that, in a sport where many of the biggest stars come from the Dominican Republic and Venezuela, players often had to speak to reporters and coaches through teammates who were fluent, or close, in both languages. Gregor Blanco helped plenty of young Giants over the years, but sometimes it was someone like Emmanuel Burriss, who spoke good Spanish. 

Kapler said he thought about trying this in Philadelphia, but the staff there never felt like the situation was quite right. In San Francisco, he has hired a young group that is focused on being open-minded and trying new things. When the Giants announced most of their staff at the Winter Meetings, Kapler said one of the final remaining hires would be a native Spanish speaker. In January the Giants hired Ortiz, a 46-year-old who spent 15 seasons in the minor leagues and 16 offseasons in the Puerto Rican Winter League. Ortiz was born in Puerto Rico. 

"He's got a really good way about him and a delivery that makes you want to listen," Kapler said. "It just felt like the right combination at the right time."

The Giants will start using Ortiz as an in-game interpreter this spring to help players get comfortable. They plan to use Ortiz for every native Spanish speaker, including Johnny Cueto, who speaks English well but still prefers to use Higueros as an interpreter for interviews. The staff also wants the catchers to get used to the transition.

"I'm sure there were certainly times where I've been out there and thought I was communicating better than I was," Buster Posey said. "This'll button up the communication."

The hope is that this catches on and becomes part of the norm. On the 40-man roster alone, the Giants have eight pitchers who were born outside of the United States, and for the first time, their player-specific spring training workout plans and goals were handed to them in Spanish. 

Kapler is hoping this gives the native Spanish speakers a little more help during games. He speaks Spanish himself, but said there were times in the past when he would have said more to a pitcher on the mound had an interpreter been there. 

"I would have expanded on a thought and had the ability to influence the conversation differently had I had a native Spanish speaker with me," he said. "There's a huge investment, on my part personally but also with our coaching staff, to have our native Spanish speakers feel like they're on equal footing as our native English speakers. I just care deeply about that."

Giants' Reyes Moronta set to take big step in rehab from gruesome injury

Giants' Reyes Moronta set to take big step in rehab from gruesome injury

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Gabe Kapler gathered the 71 Giants players, 13 coaches and the rest of the support staff at Scottsdale Stadium on Monday morning, it should have been the official start of the biggest spring of Reyes Moronta's career. 

Moronta likely would have entered the spring as a favorite to become Kapler's closer, but he suffered a devastating shoulder injury at the end of August and had surgery on September 10 to repair his labrum. Moronta will spend the whole spring and most of the season rehabbing, but the first full workout day still was an important one for Moronta.

He was set to play catch Monday for the first time since getting hurt. 

"It's a big day," Moronta said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. "Since I got hurt, I've been waiting for this day."

It's a small step, but an important one for a player who is expected to be out until August. The Giants will be careful with Moronta, who holds an interesting spot on the roster. In a camp where Kapler wants every young pitcher to get stretched out, Moronta is one of the few true relievers with big league experience for the Giants.

The Giants plan to be creative this spring, and pitchers are preparing for the possibility that four of five with starting experience might end up in the bullpen going two or three innings an outing. Kapler has been hesitant to hand out specific roles, but the Giants do figure to lock Tony Watson into the late innings somewhere.

After that, there are a lot of question marks, and long term, Moronta still profiles as a closer or setup man. Before the injury, he ranked in the top 20 among NL relievers in batting average allowed (.197) and opponents' slugging percentage (.298). 

A big step will be taken Monday, but Moronta knows he won't fully mentally clear all the hurdles until he gets back on a big league mound. His injury was awful to watch, and it's the type that often lingers when a player starts ramping it up. He said the pain matched the scene, but he didn't realize how much damage had been done to his throwing shoulder until later.

"It was awful pain," he said. "But I feel good now."

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For now, the focus is on getting healthy. Moronta spent his offseason in Scottsdale to focus on rehab, taking a short break to get married. It's a goal for him to follow Johnny Cueto's lead and get back late in the year, if only for a few appearances. 

"It's very important for me and for the team and for my family," he said. "It's important for me to at least pitch a month or so and know that I'm healthy."