Silver lining with Posey, Nuñez news after Giants' walk-off loss to Rockies

Silver lining with Posey, Nuñez news after Giants' walk-off loss to Rockies

DENVER — There was a moment Thursday night that seemed too cruel, even for an odd year, even for a clubhouse full of rings. 

Trailing by seven runs, the Giants watched Eduardo Nuñez, their spark plug, limp off with hamstring tightness. Five minutes later, Buster Posey hit a two-run homer and felt a stabbing pain in his ankle. Posey followed Nuñez into the trainer’s room as Bruce Bochy scrambled to put a reasonable lineup back on the field for the bottom of the inning. 

In the dugout, heads hung. Players looked around in a daze. The number crunchers say there’s a 99 percent chance this season ends after 162 games, and the Giants understand that. But they were having a hard time coming to grips with a frightening flurry of events. 

And then, they flipped a switch. 

It’s here that we’ll stop and point out that the Giants lost, 10-9. It was their 12th loss in 16 games, but in the clubhouse, players understood that this night could have been so much worse. 

Posey has inflammation in his surgically-repaired left ankle but he was feeling much better after the game and expects to miss just a couple of days. Nuñez could be back in this series. He said he was mostly being cautious with a hamstring that flares up now and again. The lineup was not torn to pieces, and players took solace in the fact that they proved to themselves that they’ll continue to fight, no matter what the standings show. 

“We didn’t give up,” leadoff hitter Denard Span said. “We lost and we’re losing a lot, but we’re still fighting. We’re still battling.”

Moral victories don’t count, but at the moment, the Giants will take any positive they can get. Span was happy that the Giants at least “made them earn that win” after falling behind by eight runs. 

“Right now, we’re trying to find anything to build off,” Span said. 

Perhaps they can sleep a little better knowing that they’re still whole, and that there were signs of life Thursday. Austin Slater had four hits and looks locked in as the left fielder for the near future. Brandon Crawford hit a three-run homer, the first of the year for the Giants. Ty Blach had a pinch-hit RBI single. The contributions came from up and down the lineup, but the hole was just too deep. That falls on the shoulders of Matt Moore, who gave up eight runs in three innings. 

Posey was behind the plate for those long frames, and perhaps on a humid 86 degree night, that took something out of him. He said he felt pain as soon as he connected on his ninth homer. 

“I had pain go through my ankle and the more I ran on it the worse it hurt,” he said. 

When a reporter pointed out that the ankle was the one he famously hurt in 2011, Posey nodded. “Yeah,” he said. “I was a little confused (about why it was hurting).” The training staff believes scar tissue “pinched” on Posey’s swing and caused the pain. 

“All in all, I’m happy about it because it was pretty painful,” he said. 

With Posey and Nuñez hurting, the Giants will be short this weekend. They expect to at some point lose Hunter Strickland to his suspension, and because of that, Bruce Bochy used Strickland for a third straight day. 

The Giants had tied the game when Gorkys Hernandez lofted a fly ball to center off Greg Holland, who took his first blown save. Strickland got the bottom of the ninth and put two on for Raimel Tapia, who bounced the winning single to right. The Rockies charged the field and the Giants walked slowly back to the clubhouse, where they mostly got good news. That was enough to take some of the sting out of the loss. 

“I’m good with what happened tonight,” Bochy said. “This was a gutty effort.”

Reds, Rangers had Derek Holland interest before he re-signed with Giants


Reds, Rangers had Derek Holland interest before he re-signed with Giants

The Giants brought back starting pitcher Derek Holland on a one-year deal on Monday, which could be the start of more additions to the pitching staff.

Well, the team did make a pitching hire on Tuesday, but in the baseball operations department: hiring Matt Daniels as their coordinator of pitching analysis.

But back to Holland ...

The 31-year-old boasted solid numbers in 2018, with a 3.57 ERA and 169 strikeouts in 171.1 innings with the orange and black. And it turns out the former Ranger also received interest this offseason from his previous team and the Reds.

The Reds made a few pitching moves this offseason including losing free agent Matt Harvey to the Angels. Pitcher Homer Bailey also said his farewells in a blockbuster trade with the Dodgers, so starting pitching was certainly on the team's to-do list. It's on every team's to-do list, but you get the point.

NBC Sports Bay Area has learned the Rangers had interest in him in a possible reliever role, but bowed out in the end. Keeping him in the NL West would appear may be more beneficial to the lefty than the high-powered AL West anyway.

During the interview with MLB Network, Holland also took a few moments to talk about the man of the hour, or the man of the offseason, Madison Bumgarner.

MadBum has been a constant in trade talks for the Giants, but at the moment Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi is keeping him around. 

Holland must be pretty happy about that.

How Giants' park dimensions, location can help free agent recruiting


How Giants' park dimensions, location can help free agent recruiting

SAN FRANCISCO — For years, Giants officials have grumbled about the impact their home ballpark has on negotiations with free agents.

It’s no secret that sluggers do not want to play 81 games at Oracle Park, and the Giants have been kept from large portions of the position player market over the past decade. 

Farhan Zaidi will have to figure out a way to build an offense for his new park, but when it comes to another set of free agents, he’s not shying away from the dimensions at Third and King.

Multiple agents for free agents pitchers have mentioned this winter that Zaidi is using the pitcher-friendly park as one of his main selling points, and Zaidi said that’ll be an emphasis going forward. 

“Especially for guys looking for short-term deals, it’s very attractive,” Zaidi said at the Winter Meetings. “It’s a platform for guys coming off down years to come in and be productive, help us win games, and then also set themselves up well going forward.”  

Giants pitchers had a 3.62 ERA at home last season but it jumped to 4.29 on the road. A year earlier, they were third in the NL with a 3.73 home ERA, but ranked 11th on the road at 5.34.

The ballpark can be a pitcher’s best friend, hiding issues for even the best on the staff. When the Giants engaged in trade talks about Madison Bumgarner this winter, you can bet executives on the other side of the table brought up the 4.97 ERA on the road last season, which was more than three runs above his home ERA of 1.63.

Tony Watson, another potential trade chip, saw his ERA jump 2.46 runs when he got away from Oracle Park. 

Zaidi will have to deal with those issues when negotiating with other teams. But the flip side of that is an ability to use the park as a major selling point for free agents looking for a soft landing spot.

“We’ve found that, for players that have been in the National League West and have played a lot of games at (Oracle Park), it is a draw,” Zaidi said. “They know how energetic the crowd is and what a fun atmosphere it is. Any place you can look for an advantage in recruiting, you try to have that be part of your game plan. For pitchers looking to come here, to pitch in a friendly environment is certainly something we’re going to look to take advantage of.”

Zaidi hopes to add at least one more starter to the mix this offseason, perhaps another reclamation project like Derek Holland. While Holland’s ERA was virtually similar at home and on the road in his first season with the Giants, there were some big differences in the underlying numbers. His walk rate was far higher on the road and he allowed 14 homers in road games as opposed to just five at Oracle Park. 

Holland also has given plenty of credit to pitching coaches Curt Young and Matt Herges and catcher Buster Posey, and the Giants use that as a draw, too. But the ballpark is the easiest sell, in part because it’s guaranteed to always be there. Lineups and coaching staffs will change, but the Giants have no plans to alter the dimensions of their outfield, making their permanent home an ideal spot for any type of pitcher. 

Perhaps this will allow the Giants to stay away from the types of massive contracts they have given to the likes of Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Mark Melancon, knowing that lesser pitchers can take a massive step forward at Oracle Park. If the Giants are able to consistently do that, they’ll be able to save their resources, which will be needed.

They’ll always need to overpay to get the other half of the game’s best players — hitters — to Oracle Park, and you might see them going after a few more like Troy Tulowitzki, a Sunnyvale native who was a target but chose the Yankees.  

[RELATED: Zaidi reveals timetable for Giants' next move]

"I love hearing that a guy is a Bay Area native, and if not a Bay Area native, a California native," Zaidi said. "I think that’s a certain pull. California guys want to play in this state."