Giants

With pinch-hit homer, Alen Hanson shows he's worthy of additional time

With pinch-hit homer, Alen Hanson shows he's worthy of additional time

SAN FRANCISCO — There are two steps to this breakthrough. Alen Hanson has done his part. The next step is up to manager Bruce Bochy. 

Hanson has been a revelation, not just as a Joe Panik fill-in, but as a bat off the bench. His two-run blast with two outs in the ninth inning Wednesday was one of the biggest swings of the season for the Giants, who escaped with a 5-4 win over the Diamondbacks when Brandon Crawford lined a walk-off single in the bottom of the 10th. 

Now, it’s up to Bochy to figure out a way to ride the hot bat, and see if Hanson truly is as talented as he has appeared thus far. The timing couldn’t be better for a manager who has just one lineup hole, and at a position (first base) Hanson doesn’t play. The Giants are about to embark on a tough trip: Three games in Washington D.C.; four games in muggy Miami; three games in Los Angeles. 

That kind of stretch requires a few off days for regulars, and Bochy said Crawford and Evan Longoria, in particular, are due. Hanson is the backup shortstop and he’ll start taking grounders at third to get sharper there. He also will take fly balls, Bochy said. He nearly left Hanson in as his center fielder after the shocking blast off Brad Boxberger, but Gorkys Hernandez also pinch-hit and he got the assignment. 

“He’ll get some starts,” Bochy said of Hanson, “But he’s a pretty nice weapon coming off the bench. You’ve seen what he’s done. He’s getting some huge hits for us. He’s been a shot in the arm with what he’s doing, and it doesn’t get any better than that (one today).”

The arcade shot off Boxberger was Hanson’s second career pinch-hit homer and the third of the season for the Giants. They have benefited from a deep bench all season long, and Hanson is the hottest of the group right now. He has a hit in each of his last four pinch-hit appearances: Single, two doubles and the homer. He poked a two-run double down the line Monday night to help the Giants win that one. 

“You’ve got a switch-hitter who is good from both sides,” Bochy said. “He’s got easy pop.”

Bochy went on to call Hanson “dangerous” and “exciting.” Crawford noted that his athleticism stood out in spring training. That makes the 25-year-old perfectly suited for a super-utility role. 

Hanson has mostly played second base at the big league level but he also has 228 innings of outfield experience. The Giants will ask him to back up short and third for now.

And on days when there’s no open spot, they’ll hope for a contribution off the bench like the one Hanson gave Wednesday. 

“That’s a great win for us,” Bochy said. “That could be our best win of the year.”

Joey Bart hype to join Giants in 2019 halted by farm director Kyle Haines

Joey Bart hype to join Giants in 2019 halted by farm director Kyle Haines

Joey Bart looks the part and he's proving it in his first big league camp with the Giants. 

The No. 2 pick in the 2018 MLB Draft is batting .368 with a home run, two doubles and seven RBI in 14 games. He's been so impressive, teammates awarded him the Barney Nugent Award, which is given annually to the player who performs best in his first big league camp.

One anonymous scout is so high on Bart he believes the catcher can join the Giants by midseason. But, farm director Kyle Haines is here to halt the hype. 

"A lot of people want to see him in San Francisco sooner rather than later, but we want to make sure we put him in a position to best grow in the minors," Haines said to MLB.com

After hitting 13 home runs in Short-Season Single-A last year, Bart's power has followed him to the desert. While his defense is nothing to downgrade, the Giants want him to grow behind the dish. 

"The big thing is just to get experience because the catching position is so demanding," Haines said. "There's so much to learn, especially all of the information. We're flooding players with data and technology, so just getting exposure to the pro game, exposure to data, exposure to game strategy is important."

Bart is expected to start the season in Advanced Single-A for the San Jose Giants. One of the selling points to have him there is to learn from manager Bill Hayes, who was a long-time catching coach. 

In San Jose, Bart will get experience catching fellow Giants top prospects Sean Hjelle and Jake, whom were draft behind him in the second and third rounds respectively last summer. 

[RELATED: Joey Bart needs to improve this part of his game, Mike Krukow says]

The hype is real, and the numbers are there to back it up. Expecting the 22-year-old to be in San Francisco for Bruce Bochy's final season, however, is not.

Giants sign veteran outfielder Matt Joyce to minor-league contract

Giants sign veteran outfielder Matt Joyce to minor-league contract

SAN FRANCISCO -- The competition to win outfield jobs hasn't exactly been an inspiring one, so on Wednesday the Giants added another option to the mix. 

Veteran Matt Joyce signed a minor-league deal with the club on Wednesday and will join camp as a non-roster invitee. Joyce was let go Tuesday by the Cleveland Indians, who recently signed Carlos Gonzalez. 

Joyce, 34, hit .208 with the A's last season, with a .322 OBP and seven homers in 246 plate appearances. He was much better the year before, slugging 25 homers with a 118 OPS+. While Joyce brings some power, he does not solve the primary need, which is adding a right-handed bat to the mix. 

[RELATED: Where Giants position battles stand before Opening Day]

Farhan Zaidi has said his main priority is finding a right-hander to balance an outfield that currently has Steven Duggar and Gerardo Parra slated for significant roles. Mac Williamson is expected to start in left field and Cameron Maybin could be the fourth outfielder, although he has not had a good spring.