Giants

Report: Longtime Giant Javier Lopez announces retirement

Report: Longtime Giant Javier Lopez announces retirement

SAN FRANCISCO — The Core Four era officially came to an end Wednesday when left-hander Javier Lopez announced his retirement. 

The announcement, made through Fox Sports, did not come as a surprise, as Lopez had a very small list of teams that he would consider playing for in 2017. The Giants, with a promising group of young left-handers, decided early on to go in a different direction. Lopez, 39, had a 2.47 ERA in seven seasons in San Francisco, playing a key role in three World Series runs. 

“More than anything, it’s just time,” Lopez told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. “It’s a young man’s game. Although I think I can compete, it’s getting harder and harder to get ready for spring."

By his lofty standards, 2016 was a down year for Lopez. He had a 4.05 ERA in 68 appearances and struggled with his command at times. Lopez walked left-handed hitter Anthony Rizzo in the ninth inning of an NLDS Game 4 loss, but that was just about the only blemish on his postseason record with the Giants. 

Lopez, a brilliant under-the-radar move in the middle of the 2010 season, allowed just one earned run over 23 appearances during the even year title runs. Used primarily against tough left-handers, he held opposing hitters to a .125 batting average during that span. Lopez also won a World Series ring with the 2007 Red Sox, and he spent the final years of his career as MLB’s active leader in rings. 

As much as the Giants will miss Lopez in the late innings — even last year he held lefties to a .208 average — the impact will be just as great on the clubhouse. He was a leader for a bullpen that has undergone massive changes in the last two years, and the rare reliever who stood up as a voice of the team during difficult times. In good times, Lopez was one of the funniest quotes on the team.

It was an open secret around the team last season that Lopez was likely playing his final year. The Lopez family had recently moved closer to the East Coast. 

“I’m looking forward to some other things in my life,” Lopez told Rosenthal. “We’ll see what they are. I don’t know yet, but we’ll come up with something.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Sergio Romo agreeing to a deal with the Dodgers and Santiago Casilla going across the bridge to the A’s. Throw in the retirement of Jeremy Affeldt after the 2015 season and that’s 30 seasons of Giants experience that has walked out the door in a short period of time.

Giants notes: Enchilada-eating roving instructor gets Stratton back on track

Giants notes: Enchilada-eating roving instructor gets Stratton back on track

NEW YORK — Long after retirement, Ryan Vogelsong is still taking part in reclamation projects for the Giants. 

Vogelsong, now a part-time roving instructor in the minors, worked with Chris Stratton when the young right-hander was sent back to Triple-A. Stratton was rotating too much with his delivery, causing his fastball to flatten out and cut back over the heart of the plate unexpectedly. For a pitcher who relies primarily on a fastball-curveball combination, the lack of command was hard to overcome. 

But Vogelsong has seen it all in this game, and his delivery shares traits with Stratton’s. He gave Stratton some tips to help smooth his mechanics. 

Whatever Vogelsong said, it certainly worked. Stratton returned to the big leagues Tuesday night and showed a lot of improvement from previous starts. Through six innings, Stratton had thrown just 71 pitches and not allowed a run. The Mets knocked him out in the seventh, but at 6 1/3 innings with two earned runs, this still qualified as Stratton’s best outing in two months. Stratton said he was able to make adjustments in-game using Vogelsong’s tips.

“It’s just nice to have some success up here and give our team a good chance to win,” Stratton said. 

The Giants fell 6-3 to the Mets after falling apart late, but manager Bruce Bochy was pleased with what he saw from Stratton. He said the staff will discuss whether Stratton stays to make another start in five days.

If Stratton does, perhaps he can duplicate an old tradition. He didn’t know about Vogelsong’s eating habits, but smiled when told of the history.

“I actually had enchiladas two nights ago,” he said. 

—- Bochy said he’ll go “with the hot hand” in left field going forward. For the most part over the past week, that has been Alen Hanson, not Austin Slater, who started at first base Tuesday night. It’s an odd arrangement. Slater, an outfielder, was only in the lineup because Brandon Belt was getting a night off and Buster Posey, originally scheduled to play first, caught 13 innings Monday night. Slater had two hits. 

—- Some relevant minor league news: Tyler Beede (groin strain) came off the disabled list and returned to Triple-A Sacramento. That should clear the way for a September call-up. The Giants moved Beede to the bullpen before he got hurt.

Giants squander lead, Tony Watson roughed up in loss to Mets

Giants squander lead, Tony Watson roughed up in loss to Mets

BOX SCORE

NEW YORK — The race for the White Flag picked up steam in the late innings Tuesday night. 

The Giants blew a late lead on another night where the lineup didn't show, falling 6-3 to the Mets at Citi Field. They have lost five of six and are 3-5 on a road trip that was supposed to keep them in the NL West race. This was a very familiar performance.

The Giants scored a pair early but then shut it down, and the Mets tied it with two in the seventh. Jose Reyes led off the eighth with a triple off Tony Watson, but for a moment it looked like the Mets would Met. They made two quick outs before Jeff McNeil lined a double to left. A few minutes later, Michael Conforto put the game away with a three-run homer. 

—- Watson was charged with four earned on three hits and a walk. He had allowed just three total runs in his previous 14 appearances and had not allowed four runs in an appearance all season long. 

—- The early scoring was exactly what the Giants envisioned with their offseason moves. Andrew McCutchen drew a leadoff walk in the first and Evan Longoria blasted a Steven Matz pitch into the left field seats. The homer was the 13th for Longoria. 

—- Before Longoria’s blast, the Giants had just two homers in their previous 115 innings. Longoria and McCutchen are the only Giants with homers on this road trip, which has reached eight games. 

—- Chris Stratton had his best start in two months, allowing two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Stratton needed just 71 pitches to get to six shutout innings, but was lifted after giving up three hits in the seventh.