Giants

With Smith likely out until May, Giants looking for lefty help

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USATSI

With Smith likely out until May, Giants looking for lefty help

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of hours after they were connected to a free agent reliever, the Giants gave their most definitive Will Smith update in months. The two are connected. 

Smith’s target date for a return to the big leagues is May 1, manager Bruce Bochy said, leaving the Giants without their best left-handed reliever for potentially the first 28 games. With little else in the way of established lefty relief on the roster, the Giants are reportedly chasing veteran Tony Watson. Bob Nightengate of USA Today reported that the Giants and Watson are involved in “serious contract talks,” with Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports adding that the Phillies and Red Sox are also after Watson. 

A longtime Pirate, the 32-year-old Watson has a 2.68 ERA in seven big league seasons. He had a 3.38 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 71 appearances for the Pirates and Dodgers last season. Watson would immediately became Bochy’s go-to lefty early in the season, but it’s unclear how the Giants will be able to slide him under the luxury tax. The Giants have only a couple million to spend before reaching the limit, and Watson is certainly worth more than that. On the other hand, camps opened Tuesday and he has been caught up by a market where teams simply aren’t spending. Plus, Bobby Evans has consistently proven to be creative at structuring contracts to lower the tax hit. 

Regardless of what happens with Watson, the Giants will need Smith to be a big part of their bullpen at some point, and he said he’s optimistic about his recovery from Tommy John surgery. Smith has already thrown seven bullpen sessions and is close to facing hitters. He said he has had no setbacks during the process, but the training staff is being cautious. The Giants at some point hoped to get Smith back by opening day but May 1 is more realistic. 

“If you’ve already waited this long, what’s another three weeks?” Smith said. “One of the worst things would be to rush back for opening day and then have to take three weeks off in the middle of the season. That would kill me. That would suck.”

Giants put Dereck Rodriguez on DL with injury from brawl with Dodgers

Giants put Dereck Rodriguez on DL with injury from brawl with Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO -- Tuesday's brief scuffle at Dodger Stadium ended up being much more costly for the Giants than for the Dodgers.

A few hours after Yasiel Puig was suspended two games by Major League Baseball, the Giants announced that rookie right-hander Dereck Rodriguez was placed on the disabled list after being hurt during the altercation between the Dodgers outfielder and San Francisco catcher Nick Hundley. 

Rodriguez went on the 10-day DL on Thursday with a Grade 1 hamstring strain. He was one of the first players on the scene when Puig and Hundley exchanged shoves Tuesday at Dodger Stadium. Rodriguez came from the dugout and apparently got hurt somewhere during the exchange. 

The blow is a big one to a Giants team that's on the fringes of the National League playoff race. Rodriguez, a rookie, has been the club's best pitcher, posting a 6-1 record and 2.25 ERA to this point. He has allowed just six runs in five second-half starts, throwing his name into the NL Rookie of the Year race. 

The Giants skipped their fifth starter so Rodriguez and Madison Bumgarner could kick off the three-game series in Cincinnati. Instead, Casey Kelly will start Friday's opener against the Reds. The Giants will announce a corresponding roster move Friday.

The latest round of Name That Unwritten Rule in baseball

The latest round of Name That Unwritten Rule in baseball

Yasiel Puig got two games for punching Nick Hundley in the mask. Jose Ureña got six games for throwing at Ronald Acuña’. Nobody is happy on any side.
 
And that, ladies and jellyspoons, is baseball justice, now and forever.
 
But it is also sports justice, which is typically very flexible when it comes to precedent anyway, save for drug suspensions, which are covered under the collective bargaining agreement.
 
Puig got his two as part of his ongoing feud with the San Francisco Giants, and theirs with him. Hundley chastised Puig for being unhappy with a pitch he missed, and Puig, remembering all the cheery times he has had against the Giants, responded in more than kind. As a result of the brawl he helped inflame, he will have to go to the trouble of losing his appeal of a two-game suspension while Hundley was merely fined for acting like everyone’s dean of students. And you know the dean of students at your school was so beloved.
 
By now, though, it is clear that Puig and the Giants have issues, and there seems no impetus on any side to make them go away. In other words, the punishments may or may not have fit the crime, but it is clearly not meant as a deterrent. It certainly won’t be one for Hundley or the Giants, who have made Puig a long-running personal cause.

Me, I'd give Hundley two games along with Puig, and fine both teams $10 million and tell them, "Make this nonsense stop." Then again, commissioners don't get to take big money to teams without paying a price down the road, which is why I would have to be named imperial emperor to have that kind of pull.

In other words, this will happen again.
 
As for Ureña, his six games (or one start) will be regarded as a gift from MLB for what looked to all the world like a purposeful beanball attempt. The length of the suspension is probably mitigated further by the fact that Acuña played Thursday against Colorado.
 
But the more interesting notion is that MLB decided not to guess on Ureña’s intent, because intent can’t be proven, and if baseball wanted to go down that particular rabbit hole, it would be in court in no time having to defend breaking precedent so violently for something that must be negotiated as part of the collective bargaining agreement with the players.
 
That is not yet a fight the owners seem to want to have – not when there are so many others to employ between now and the time negotiations begin before the 2021 deadline.
 
In addition, baseball does not throw large suspensions around as a general rule. If you take out the drug-related suspensions (either recreational or performance-based), the longest suspensions on record for a player are Roberto Osuna’s 75 games for domestic violence (which he has denied while accepting the suspension for the thing he said he didn’t do, if that makes sense to you), and Lenny Randle’s 30 days for punching out Texas manager Pat Corrales in 1977, when Randle was a Ranger himself.
 
But the Ureña/Acuña case is about player safety (as opposed to the usually tedious old school/new school arguments that remind us that we make generations hate each other as part of the gross national product), which one would think the union would be interested in enhancing and defending.
 
Player safety should matter, of course, but the distrust between the sides runs so deep that any introduction of language that allows the MLB mall cops to judge someone’s intent as binding evidence would become a war in its own right. The sides would rather play negotiation chicken and hope no players get maimed or worse playing “Name That Unwritten Rule.”
 
Which is why Ureña only misses one start, even though it seems about three starts too light. As for Puig and the Giants, well, September 28 in San Francisco, no later than the fifth inning. If baseball can’t get into the world of intent, it has no chance with a hatred that never seems to die.