Rewind: Giants' Parker 'speechless' after record day


Rewind: Giants' Parker 'speechless' after record day

OAKLAND — Jarrett Parker was home in Virginia two weeks ago, having been passed over for a September call-up despite the fact that he was on the 40-man roster and the Giants were in need of healthy bodies. 

Parker didn’t have any big plans after a long season that included a disappointing cameo with the Giants. He was going to spend time with his family, hang out with some friends. He wasn’t planning on playing winter ball, meaning his next swings would come at Scottsdale Stadium next spring. 

Parker has guaranteed himself a spot in that spring clubhouse, and after one of the hottest stretches in franchise history, he has put himself in a position to compete for an Opening Day spot. 

“He’s made a lot of noise since he’s been up here,” manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday. “He’s opened up a lot of eyes.”

Bochy’s eyes have watched players like Tony Gwynn and Barry Bonds, but after Parker hit three homers, including a go-ahead grand slam, in a 14-10 win over the A’s, Bochy said he has never seen a player have the kind of day Parker had.

“That’s the best offensive game I’ve ever seen,” he said. “It’s just an amazing day for this kid. To do what he did today, it really is amazing. The kid has been locked in since he came in. He makes it look so easy.”

Parker has six homers in 18 at-bats since his dad dropped him off at the airport on the way to work at the Pentagon two weeks ago. He has five in his last nine at-bats, and when he hit the first pitch from Ryan Dull deep to right in the eighth inning Saturday, he joined some impressive lists.

[INSTANT REPLAY: Parker hits three homers, Giants storm past A's]

He is the first Giant since Barry Bonds in 2004 to homer five times in nine at-bats. He is the first Giants rookie since Brandon Belt in 2011 to homer in three straight games. He is the first MLB rookie since Andrew McCutchen in 2009 to homer three times in a game. He is the first Giant since Pablo Sandoval in 2013 to hit three homers in a game. 

Those are all well and good, but this fact blew Parker away: He is the first Giant to hit three homers and drive in seven runs since Willie Mays in 1961. 

“That’s unbelievable. I’m speechless,” Parker said. “I can’t even respond to that. To be mentioned in that kind of company, it’s unbelievable.”

Parker is soaking in every second of his third stint in the big leagues, because he knows how fleeting these moments can be. He was called up with Matt Duffy last August 1, but while Duffy became a key bench piece on a title team, Parker was sent back down to Triple-A without having ever gotten into a game. When he came up briefly this June, Parker went 1 for 9 with five strikeouts. Coaches were disappointed with his passive approach, and Bochy went as far as to say publicly that Parker wasn’t big league ready.

Parker sat back, soaked it all in — and vowed to be different the next time he got the call. He didn’t know when he would get another chance, but he promised himself that he would be more aggressive the next time he took a big league field.

“I’m just letting it hang out on the line,” he said. “Earlier in the year when I was called up, I was hesitant.”

Parker homered on a first-pitch fastball in the seventh and the grand slam was also on a first-pitch heater. Three of his six homers have been on the first pitch and one came on a 1-0 count, but he has shown some versatility during this Bonds-like stretch. His 474 foot homer off Dull on Friday was on a full count, and his first homer Saturday came on a 2-2 fastball that Barry Zito left up after buckling Parker with a curveball. 

In two games here in Oakland, Parker has homered off a righty and two lefties. He has homered to all three sections of the field and he has homered to the upper deck in center, which is considered just about off limits to hitters. He could be at eight homers right now, too. His double at AT&T Park would have been out of most parks, and A.J. Pollock reached over the fence to rob him of a blast on the last homestand. 

“It’s an effortless swing,” Bochy said. “It’s got a different sound to it when he hits it. He looks like The Natural right now with the way he’s swinging the bat.”

Bochy also compared Parker to Bonds, saying that like the all-time home run leader, Parker’s fly balls always seem to just carry and carry until they’re deep into the seats. This all raises expectations, of course, and the Giants will have to look at all sides of the conversation when discussing Parker’s future role. He’s 26 already and struck out in 37 percent of his minor league at-bats this season, and at some point teams will adjust and stop throwing Parker so many fastballs. There will be a book on Parker, but the A’s are having trouble finding the right page. Asked how else the A’s can try and get Parker out, catcher Stephen Vogt said he doesn’t know what the answer is.

“I tried to get him to smile,” Vogt said. “That kid’s locked in. I tried to make jokes with him, tried to get him to laugh, tried to get him to smile when he has come up to hit. There’s no doing that right now. He’s hitting everything right now.”

Parker did finally crack a smile Saturday. He couldn’t help himself when he crossed the plate and saw a whole team -- including a giddy Tim Hudson -- pouring out of the dugout. If Parker stays hot through his next Cactus League season, he could be standing next to those veterans on Opening Day. 

That’s a conversation for the offseason and March. On Saturday, after one of the best days a Giants hitter has ever had, Parker wasn’t worried about 2016. He was still trying to figure out how to sum up one of the last games of 2015.

“It was awesome,” he said, smiling. “It was awesome.”

MLB rumors: News, updates, trade talk Monday from 2018 Winter Meetings

MLB rumors: News, updates, trade talk Monday from 2018 Winter Meetings

Executives, agents and even some players descend on the Mandalay Bay Resort and Casino in Las Vegas for the MLB Winter Meetings, starting Monday.

Roster construction, either through signings and/or trades, is the goal for many teams, and both Bay Area teams figure to be heavily involved. The Giants, with new president of baseball operation Farhan Zaidi, have numerous questions to answer, particularly in the rotation and the outfield. The A's also need rotation depth -- heck, they need a rotation, period -- and finding a second baseman and a catcher would be nice, too.

Keep it here throughout Day 1 of the Winter Meetings for the latest news, rumors and trade talk, as MLB teams reshape their rosters for the 2019 season.

11:45 p.m. PT: Good news, Giants fans: You may not have to watch Yasiel Puig play for the Dodgers much longer. Los Angeles is making Puig available in trade talks, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman.

Giants-Dodgers will never lack for sizzle, but a Puig-less rivarly won't be nearly as entertaining. 

10:51 p.m. PT: Khris Davis doesn't become a free agent until next summer, but he's still a "huge prority" for the A's. 

9:43 p.m. PT: Jonathan Lucroy settled things down for the A's behind the plate in 2018. That may not happen in 2019, if the reports surrounding his contract negotiation are any indication. 

8:18 p.m. PT: The New York Mets are making a hard push for a rumored Giants target: All-Star catcher J.T. Realmuto. 

The Giants were linked to Realmuto last month, and it was reported earlier Monday that the Marlins lowered their asking price for the catcher. Just not enough for the Giants' liking, apparently. 

7:08 p.m. PT: The Yankees ruled themselves out of the Bryce Harper sweepstakes, but that hasn't stopped "several teams" from meeting with the superstar in his hometown, according to Fancred's Jon Heyman.

Here's hoping the "mystery owner" is unmasked, Scooby Doo-style. They would've gotten away with the meeting, too, if it wasn't for those meddling reporters. 

6:38 p.m. PT: Giants fans can breathe easy that Paul Goldschmidt is out of the NL West, but that almost wasn't the case. The Colorado Rockies apparently pushed to trade for Goldschmidt, according to The Athletic's Nick Groke.

The only thing scarier than Goldschmidt raking against the Giants? Him doing it at Coors Field. 

6:04 p.m. PT: The Giants confirmed a trio of reported hires. 

Ricciardi was the Toronto Blue Jays' general manager for eight seasons (2002-09), then worked in the New York Mets front office as a special assistant to general manager Sandy Alderson for the past eight seasons.

Minasian worked with the Milwaukee Brewers for the last 14 seasons, and most recently as a special advisor for scouting in the Brewers' front office. Holmes worked alongside Zaidi in the A's front office, and was most recently their assistant scouting director. 

5:59 p.m. PT: Giants president of baseball operations Neal Huntington? It almost happened, according to the Pirates general manager himself. 

5:06 p.m. PT: For the second straight offseason, the Marlins are probably going to trade one of their best players. Miami dropped the asking price for catcher J.T. Realmuto, according to the New York Post's Joel Sherman.

The Giants reportedly checked in on the All-Star catcher earlier in the offseason, even though they have an All-Star cather of their own. With a lower asking price, will the orange and black explore the possibility again? 

4:55 p.m. PT: The A’s could use some starting pitchers -- heck, they could use any starting pitchers. MassLive’s Chris Costillo dropped interesting tidbits on two bargain-bin options who might fit.

The A’s, of course, know Pomeranz well, as he pitched for them in 2014 and 2015 before they traded him to the Padres in the Yonder Alonso deal. His 2018 statline of a 2-6 record with a 6.08 ERA for the Red Sox might drop the left-hander’s price this offseason.

Oakland also knows Santana well from his eight seasons pitching for the rival Angels, from 2005 to 2012, although he’s about to turn 36, had a horrible 2018 and is showing significant signs of wear.

3:30 p.m. PT: While Yankees GM Brian Cashman all but ruled out the team adding Bryce Harper, he acknowledged he has spoken with the agent for free agent third baseman Manny Machado. The Yankees don't necessarily need a third baseman with Miguel Andujar in the mix, but they could use Machado at shortstop while Didi Gregorious recovers from Tommy John surgery.

3:26 p.m. PT: If you're a Yankees fan hoping the team will sign Bryce Harper, we have some bad news for you. What GM Brian Cashman just told reporters in Vegas pretty much squashed any thought that there is room for the outfielder on the Yankees' roster.

If you're a Giants fan holding out hope that Harper will come to San Francisco, knowing the Yankees aren't in the mix should make you feel good.

2:38 p.m. PT: The A's still would like to bring back second baseman Jed Lowrie, but if the sides can't come to an agreement, former NL batting champ D.J. LeMahieu could be an option. The San Francisco Chronicle is reporting that the A's have expressed interest in the former Rockies second baseman.

1:15 p.m. PT: Former A's draft pick, Bishop O'Dowd and Cal alum Tyson Ross is headed to MoTown on a one-year, $5.75 million contract, according to The Athletic.

12:28 p.m. PT: Everyone needs their very own boomstick, and the Twins, Astros and Rays reportedly are in the mix for veteran designated hitter Nelson Cruz.

The 38-year-old spent the last four seasons with the Mariners. The A's probably would like to see Cruz pick the Twins or Rays over the Astros, to get him out of the AL West.

11:36 a.m. PT: Earlier, Jon Morosi reported the Dodgers are involved in trade talks for Corey Kluber. Now we know what the Indians want as the headliner of the return: Dodgers No. 1 prospect Alex Verdugo. That would be a hefty price to pay, but the Dodgers are flush with outfielders at the major league level.

11:33 a.m. PT: New president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has made his first 40-man roster addition, as the Giants claimed 26-year-old outfielder Mike Gerber off waivers from the Tigers.

10:46 a.m. PT: In the aftermath of the Diamondbacks letting Patrick Corbin leave and trading Paul Goldschmidt, we wrote last Thursday that the A's should inquire about left-hander Robbie Ray. But according to USA Today, Arizona is telling teams the All-Star pitcher is not available.

10:41 a.m. PT: The Dodgers have won the NL West the last six seasons and made it to the Fall Classic the last two years. But they have yet to end their World Series drought, so could a big splash put them over the top? According to Jon Morosi, the Dodgers are involved in trade talks with the Indians regarding two-time AL Cy Young winner Corey Kluber.

10:13 a.m. PT: The Tigers have a 26-year-old outfielder in Nick Castellanos who hit 49 homers over the last two seasons, and he's drawing trade interest, according to Jon Morosi. Could the Giants be interested? We're not sure, but it's an interesting name on the market.

9:36 a.m. PT: Manny Machado plans to show off his hustle by going on a Image Rehabilitation Tour Free Agent Tour! Will he stop by San Francisco or Oakland?

9:12 a.m. PT: Billy Hamilton reportedly will receive a total of $5 million in base salary and incentives from Kansas City.

8:15 a.m. PT: Will Farhan Zaidi move fan favorite Brandon Belt? According to USA Today, the first baseman is available, and several teams are interested.

7:56 a.m. PT: In previous offseasons, the Giants tried to acquire speedy outfielder Billy Hamilton from the Reds, but the sides never agreed to a deal. This winter, Hamilton was non-tendered by Cincinnati.

Now, it appears Hamilton has found a new home, as he's reportedly close to a deal with the Royals.

7:30 a.m. PT: We're not sure if Bryce Harper will meet with Farhan Zaidi and the Giants contingent in Vegas, but the top free agent on the market reportedly is warming up to the idea of playing for the White Sox. But is he really willing to go to a team that lost 100 games in 2018?

6:49 a.m. PT: The Arizona Diamondbacks finished third in the NL West, nine games ahead of the Giants, last season. That likely won't be the case in 2019. Patrick Corbin left in free agency. Paul Goldschmidt has been traded. And now, it appears the team is trying to trade ace Zack Greinke.

But that will be difficult because Greinke has a 15-team no-trade clause, and has put most big market teams on it, according to Jon Heyman.

MLB Winter Meetings notes: Giants part ways with popular staff member


MLB Winter Meetings notes: Giants part ways with popular staff member

LAS VEGAS -- When the Giants fired their general manager and their strength coach before the end of the regular season, employees throughout the organization prepared for a bloodbath. 

That didn't end up happening, but there still will be additional changes behind the scenes.

Chad Chop, who served a do-everything role in the clubhouse and partnered with Shawon Dunston to handle replays, was not retained. Bob Tewksbury, the mental skills coach for two seasons, also was let go. 

The Giants already have replaced Carl Kochan, the strength coach let go on the final homestand. Brad Lawson, previously the organization's minor league strength and conditioning coordinator, will take that role. The rest of the training staff is returning intact. 

Chop's departure is notable for a couple of reasons. He was an expert with the replay computer system, and the Giants generally did well on reviews. Chop joined the Giants in a fascinating way -- the former minor leaguer started training with Hunter Pence early in his Giants career and initially joined the team as a left-handed batting practice pitcher. Pence recommended Chop to the Giants. Over time, Chop's role expanded, and he was popular in the clubhouse.

Chop's next role won't be as popular with Giants players. He has been hired by the Dodgers. 

Here are some more nuggets from the first full day of the 2018 MLB Winter Meetings ... 

--- Former Giant Brett Pill was among the scouts walking around the Mandalay Bay lobby Monday morning. Pill is in his second year working for the Kia Tigers, a South Korean team he played for late in his career. He's close to getting his degree, too, after going back to school.

--- Casey Kelly and Pierce Johnson both have signed to play overseas next season, and you can expect that to happen more with veterans in the coming offseasons. Multiple agents noted how hard it now is for non-established big leaguers to find jobs as they approach or cross 30. Almost every team prefers to go young -- the Giants were a holdout, but that will change under Farhan Zaidi -- and give those shots to players in their early twenties who have more upside -- and also make far, far less. Playing in Asia is a lucrative way for veterans such as Kelly and Johnson to continue playing when big league opportunities dry up.

Kelly is just 29 and Johnson is 27. Tommy Joseph, a former Giants prospect, also recently signed to play in Asia. He's 27. Chase d'Arnaud, 31, is another former Giant said to be on the radars of South Korean and Japanese teams this offseason.

--- Zaidi said the Giants, who currently have five open roster spots, might take a player in the Rule 5 Draft for a second consecutive year. 

"I could see us taking somebody," he said. "We haven't had our specific meetings about it, but we have enough roles on the roster that we're looking to fill, and we certainly like some of the players that will potentially be available."

Last December, the front office selected hard-throwing reliever Julian Fernandez. He had Tommy John surgery before ever pitching for the Giants and now is a Miami Marlin.

--- If you missed any of the news from Monday, the Giants added an outfielder to their roster, Zaidi believes he'll add two more, and he explained why Hunter Strickland and Gorkys Hernandez now are looking for jobs.