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 shares advice from Posey, reveals one and only purchase with record bonus

Joey Bart shares advice from Posey, reveals one and only purchase with record bonus

SAN FRANCISCO — Joey Bart drove a 1997 Chevy Tahoe in high school. He upgraded to a 2004 Tahoe while attending Georgia Tech. You can probably guess, then, what Bart bought as soon as he was taken second overall by the Giants earlier this month. 

“A brand new Tahoe,” Bart said Monday, smiling. 

Bart, the highest Giants pick in 33 years, got a signing bonus of $7.025 million, per Jim Callis of MLB.com. That’s the largest bonus for a position player in draft history, but Bart said he hasn’t made any other big purchases. The first one was the focus. 

“I kind of had a deal with my parents. They wanted to buy me a car several years ago and I told them, you know what, I don’t want you guys to do that. I want to wait until I have my own money where I can buy it,” he said. “I don’t need much. I’ve been fortunate and came from a great family, but what I did is I went and bought myself a new car. That’s basically all I’ll buy and once that first check comes in I’ll slide that back to my dad and pay that off.”

The first check is coming soon. Bart has already been working out at the Giants’ facility in Arizona and he headed back there after being introduced at AT&T Park on Monday. Soon he’ll start his career with the short-season Salem-Keizer Tornadoes. 

Posey had a very short stint with Salem-Keizer after getting drafted in 2008, notching two doubles and a single in 11 at-bats. The two met Monday and had a brief conversation. 

“He said to enjoy these next few days and have fun,” Bart said.

For more on Bart’s draft experience, his time calling pitches at Georgia Tech and his meeting with Posey, download the Giants Insider Podcast. You can also stream it here. 

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Belt's 18th inning HR against Nats vs Winning West on final day of 2010 season

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AP

POLL: Giants Memorable Moments -- Belt's 18th inning HR against Nats vs Winning West on final day of 2010 season

PROGRAMMING NOTE: 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  at 6pm to see the next two moments you can vote on! Then, after the Giants and Marlins conclude, tune into Postgame Live to see which moment will move on to the next round! Make your vote count!

1. Brandon Belt's 18th inning homer against the Nationals in 2014 NLDS (13-time winner -- Barry Bonds' two-home run, seven-RBI game in Giants' 102nd win of 1993 season)

(From Alex Pavlovic)
By the end of an 18-inning win over the Nationals in Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS, the Giants were drained in every way. It would be understandable if some of them have few solid memories of the six-hour, 23-minute marathon game, but Brandon Belt will never forget the details. His solo shot off Tanner Roark in the top of the 18th was the difference in a 2-1 win. Four years later, the moment is still fresh in his mind, from his preparation for the at-bat to the emphatic bat drop: 

(From Brandon Belt)
"I remember chugging a Red Bull. It was late into the night and that's tough, it's mentally draining and physically draining to be in a game like that, where you're giving everything you've got to win a baseball game. I was drained at that moment to say the least. I remember chugging a Red Bull and going out there and thinking, 'I'm just going to try and get on base and see what happens.' I remember just not trying to do too much and he gave me a pitch that I could handle, that was kind of in my happy zone. It felt like one of the first home runs I ever hit. It's like you're in Little League and you hit a home run and it's like you're in a dream and it's not real life -- it was kind of the same way. 

"We had just played so long and it was such a big moment in the game, and the fact that I was able to come through and help us win with such a big hit, it was surreal to me. I felt like I was floating around the bases. I think (the bat drop) was relief, more than anything. When I do that I don't really know I do it. It was really just relief. The way the game was going, we had to assume it was over after that. The bullpen had done so well and everyone was so tired. It was going to be tough for (the Nationals) to come back after that.

"We were just ready to go home. We had a long flight after that. We just put so much effort into it and all the guys did so great. Pablo came up with a big hit in the ninth inning and Petit throwing (six shutout) innings. For me, that was the pivotal game of that entire playoffs. We were playing the best team in the NL and to be able to come home up 2-0 was huge."

VS.

2. Giants overcome 7 1/2 game deficit, stun Padres on final day of 2010 season to win NL West)

(From Tim Flannery, Giants third base coach from 2007 to 2014 and current NBC Sports Bay Area analyst)

On July 29th 2010, we were in Los Angeles about to play a series against the Dodgers. Our team had been floundering somewhat that summer, and after the All-Star break with the Padres leading the West by 7 1/2 games, Bruce Bochy called a pregame meeting in the clubhouse.

He rolled out three TV monitors, had the team gather close and said “The team we are chasing is about to stumble, we need to take advantage of it…look around this room, together we have a chance to do something special, something that has never been done, something you will be remembered for.”

Boch then turned on the video. With the team wondering what the skipper was doing, the movie Braveheart came on the screens. Then the words came  “What you do in this life will ring on through eternity.”

In a few minutes, the team came roaring out of the clubhouse onto the field yelling “Freedom” and we were fired up. We won that night, we won lots of nights the rest of August and September.

In the meantime, the Padres, who we were chasing, lost 10 in a row and we were relentless in making the final push and overtook San Diego the last week of the season. With an entire season now riding on a three-game series against the Padres, we only needed one more win to win the West.

Three crazy sold out games at AT&T would decide history. We lost Friday and Saturday, and had to play for the division title on the last day of the season. Jonathan Sanchez would start the final game. Sanchez pitched great with 5 shutout innings, but it was his bat that he wasn’t known for that changed everything.

With one out in the 3rd inning, Jonathan came to the plate, he looked down at me in the 3rd base coach’s box, I relayed the sign I received from Boch, I gave him the take sign. Jonathan stepped in the batters box and on the first pitch from Mat Latos, Sanchez swings and hits a ball in Triples Alley. As he rounds second base headed my way, he roars in with a standup triple. The place went nuts. I said “You were supposed to have been taking, but you did great, way to go.”

Freddy Sanchez singles him home, then Aubrey Huff doubles Freddy home. We were ahead 2-0. Jonathan kept the momentum by pitching 5 shutout innings.

In the 6th, the great bullpen took over. Casilla, Ramirez, López and Romo pitch into the 8th. In the bottom of the 8th, Buster Posey hit a huge home run that would make it very difficult for the Padres to come back. Now up 3-0, Brian Wilson comes in and finishes off the Padres and the party began.

A remarkable run to win the division on the last day of the season didn’t end until we ran the board winning the first World Championship in San Francisco history. Since the meeting in LA, July 29th, 7 1/2 games back, we went 30-10 to win it all.

I still can hear the words “What you do in this life will echo through eternity.” History will prove that a bunch of misfits who couldn’t even get the “take” sign right, were a very special bunch that became one hell of a team.

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