Giants

Notes: Giants hopeful Cain takes final rotation spot

Notes: Giants hopeful Cain takes final rotation spot

SAN FRANCISCO — As the Giants gathered at AT&T Park on Friday morning, one player walked into a room and asked a reporter, “How many spots do we even have available this spring?” The answer is “not many,” but general manager Bobby Evans and manager Bruce Bochy did their best Friday to keep the spirit of competition going.

There will a battle in left field, of course, and the bullpen and bench need to be fully sorted out. Then there’s the fifth starter spot, and while Evans and Bochy said they’re open to competition, it’s not hard to read between the lines.

“In a perfect world, Matt Cain would be Matt Cain and he would take that spot,” Evans said. “That’s preferable, but we do have to allow an opportunity to evaluate everybody.”

Cain hasn’t often been that desired version over the last three or four seasons, but he will get a chance to keep his rotation spot, and he’ll enter camp as the frontrunner when pitchers and catchers report to Scottsdale Stadium on Monday. Ty Blach will get a chance to knock him off, but the clear preference is to have Cain — the longest-tenured Giant, and a player in the final year of a massive deal — lock up a spot. Blach, the young challenger, will be the next man up in Sacramento in management’s ideal world. 

“We have to give Matt Cain a nod relative to what he’s accomplished but we also can’t disregard what Ty Blach did last season as well as at the big league level, as well as other guys that will come in and compete and try to make their case for that fifth spot,” Evans said. “There is an element of competition there because we want to see who the best fit is.”

--- All is said to be good on the health front, although Evans was a little coy, signaling that some players might be held back early in camp. That’s the case every year, though. There are no significant tweaks or injuries, he said. Hunter Pence had to back off during some of his offseason workouts after feeling something in his side, but Pence said he’s fine. The tweak was not to the same side as an oblique injury he suffered two years ago. Expect the Giants to take it slow with Pence. He’s shown that you can pretty much drop him in the lineup when healthy and he’ll be Full Throttle. 

--- Josh Osich was one of the Giants who did have offseason issues. He had a minor procedure on his left knee and said it’s all set right now. Osich said the knee bothered him most of last season, but surgery would have been season-ending so he pitched through it. Remember, two years ago he was looked at as a possible closer. The Giants hope that version of Osich returns in 2017. 

--- Javier Lopez, who retired this week, will be in camp as a guest instructor. (He will teach Swag 101.) 

“As good a player as he was, he’s an even better person,” Bochy said.

--- No surprise here, but Evans said Derek Law, Hunter Strickland and Will Smith are the frontrunners to pitch the eighth. Law, by the way, is one of several Giants on a podcast I taped today. Look for that here or here in the coming days, and subscribe on iTunes if you haven’t already!

--- Evans was asked if Mike Morse is still viable in left field and he said the first priority will be making sure Morse’s bat speed is still there. If he shows that, the Giants will try to shoehorn him onto the roster. Evans reiterated that he would rather not see Brandon Belt play any left field, but it hasn’t fully been ruled out. 

--- Look, they’re not going to actually go through with that “put a runner on second in extra innings” plan, but it got headlines this week so players and coaches were asked about it. “I’m not a big fan of it,” Bochy said. “I probably never would be.” Bochy did say that he likes the concept in the minors since it saves young arms a bit. 

--- Here’s my story from earlier on the Giants who are playing in the WBC.  

--- Bochy on Sergio Romo choosing the Dodgers: “It’s always strange at first. We’ll probably see him in spring training. You’ve got to move on just like he did, and we have. It’s part of the game.” Crawford said he expects Romo to get a huge ovation the first time he returns to AT&T Park. After that, it’s probably a different ballgame. 

--- Nick Hundley was here, and he said he’s excited about his new role.

“If you get the opportunity to play for an organization like this one that’s all-in, you take it. You don’t get that opportunity often,” he said. “It’s a no-brainer. I always admired the continuity over here and the environment as a visiting player.”

Hundley has had plenty of time here with the Padres and Rockies. 

“As a visiting player, it’s invigorating,” he said of playing at AT&T Park. “I’ve been trying to beat the Giants for a long time without a lot of success.”

POLL: Giants memorable moments -- Winning '10 World Series vs. Winning '14 World Series

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AP

POLL: Giants memorable moments -- Winning '10 World Series vs. Winning '14 World Series

NBC Sports Bay Area is looking back at the Giants' 60 Memorable Moments since the franchise moved from New York to San Francisco. Tune into Pregame Live at 6 p.m. to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and Padres conclude on Friday, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will be crowned most memorable!

1. Giants defeat Rangers in 2010 World Series thanks to Edgar Renteria's three-run homer (New winner -- Defeated Travis Ishikawa's walk-off homer wins 2014 NL Pennant)

(From former Giants outfielder and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst Andres Torres)

I got to the field early, around 1:30pm because it was the World Series and you're pumped. Around 3pm, Edgar came to me and said 'Andres, I'm going to hit a homer today.' I'm like 'Okay, I believe him.'

Then we had batting practice, we came in, had something to eat, then we had soft-toss as we got closer to the game. And Edgar said to me 'Remember, I told you I'm going to hit a homer.'

Then in the seventh inning, he hits it, and we see the outfielder going back and back and back and then the ball's gone!!!

I was so pumped and when he came back to the dugout from homeplate, I started yelling in Spanish 'You told me you were going to do it. You told me you were going to do it.' I said it twice because he said it to me twice that he was going to do it. We were so pumped!!!

It was amazing. He called it twice, twice!!! We were World Champions and he was the MVP and it was amazing. Edgar was a leader in the clubhouse. He played a long time and made sure we were all doing the right things, especially me and Pablo (Sandoval). He's a great friend and that was a special moment, I loved it...it was like wow!! It was so cool!!!

VS.

2. Giants defeat Royals in 2014 World Series, Madison Bumgarner closes Game 7 with five shutout innings of relief

(From Alex Pavlovic)

A few minutes after he threw a 119-pitch shutout in Game 5 of the 2014 World Series, Madison Bumgarner was approached by Royals manager Ned Yost. The two were headed in opposite directions as they gave postgame interviews, but Yost wanted to take a moment to congratulate Bumgarner. 

"Great game," he told him. "You know what? I sure am glad I don't have to see you again."

Bumgarner smiled. He had one more trick up his sleeve that month, and it would win the Giants a third World Series, stun the baseball world, and cement the left-hander's place as the best big-game pitcher of his generation. 

Bumgarner came out of the bullpen in Kauffman Stadium in Game 7 and threw 68 pitches over five innings, carrying an early 3-2 lead all the way to the finish line. Essentially making a second start in four days, Bumgarner allowed two hits and struck out four, finishing one of the best postseason runs in baseball history. He earned a five-inning save, lowering his 2014 postseason ERA to 1.03 over an astounding 52 2/3 innings. 

"As soon as I saw him warming up and we had the lead, I knew it was over," said Game 7 starter Tim Hudson. "I knew the big fella was going to get it done."

Hudson lasted just 1 2/3 innings before turning it over to Jeremy Affeldt, who got the ball to Bumgarner. The Giants scored twice in the second and took the lead on Michael Morse's single in the fourth. Joe Panik had the defensive highlight of the night, diving and glove-flipping to Brandon Crawford to start a huge double play in the third. From there, it was the Bumgarner show. 

A misplay in the outfield put Alex Gordon on third with two down in the ninth, but Salvador Perez popped up. The Giants had a third title in five years. 

"This group of warriors continues to amaze me," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Nobody wanted it more than them."

VOTE HERE:

What the search for new Giants front-office executive could look like

What the search for new Giants front-office executive could look like

SAN FRANCISCO — This is not how the Giants hoped to spend October. 

For a second straight year, the team’s top decision-makers will spend the month conducting interviews rather than watching postseason games. Last October, the Giants underwent coaching changes. This time around it's the general manager who is gone, and Larry Baer and Brian Sabean are looking for a new head of baseball operations to carry the department forward. Bobby Evans was just the eighth person to hold the GM title since the franchise moved to San Francisco, so the process is a new one for ownership, and Baer said he plans to be meticulous. 

The Giants hope to have a new executive in place by the GM meetings in early November and certainly will have their search done well in advance of December’s winter meetings in Las Vegas. Until then, Sabean will handle any day-to-day responsibilities. 

“I don’t want to set a timetable,” Baer said Monday. “We have the benefit of Brian being able to steer the ship here until we have somebody.”

Given the timing of the Evans move, the Giants can afford to be patient. There are no major decisions to be made until late November when 40-man moves must be made and contracts must be tendered to arbitration-eligible players. While free agency starts soon after the World Series ends, few players sign before Thanksgiving, and the Giants don't have any major decisions to make with their own free agents. 

There’s another reason for the Giants to be patient, too. Their wish list is expected to include several executives on teams headed to the postseason, and often times it’s difficult to conduct interviews until a team is eliminated. In the meantime, ownership is busy building the list. Initially, the Giants expect to hire just one executive to report directly to ownership, although over time that person surely would want to revamp the baseball operations department. 

Baer said Monday that he would be open to becoming the first team to have a female run the baseball operations department, and there are several highly qualified candidates, including MLB’s Kim Ng and the Yankees’ Jean Afterman, a San Francisco native. 

The Giants also are expected to look at executives who currently serve as the No. 2 for successful organizations. Often times you’re not given permission to interview someone for a lateral move, but because this will be a head of baseball operations role, the team could potentially poach a GM from an organization like Tampa Bay or Atlanta, for example, arguing that the Giants’ job is a promotion. 

The initial list also will include those who have served as general managers in the recent past but no longer do so. Ownership believes this is an all-in, 24/7 job, and there is some preference to hire a person who has previous experience with the demands of leading a baseball operations department.