Giants

Source: Bryce Harper praised Buster Posey during lengthy Giants meeting

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AP

Source: Bryce Harper praised Buster Posey during lengthy Giants meeting

SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes before the start of FanFest on Saturday morning, Giants officials briefly were put into scramble mode. Social media buzzed with rumors that Bryce Harper soon would choose the Giants, which was news to the Giants themselves. 

It was an absurd notion that Harper, after months of speculation, simply would announce his intentions by showing up at Oracle Park on a cold, rainy day -- and team officials quickly shot down the possibility. The Giants do not expect Harper to make a decision this weekend, but as everyone prepared to head down to Scottsdale for the start of spring training, there certainly was an increase in optimism.

As players have talked over the past 24 hours, there has been an increased sense among some in the clubhouse that Harper prefers the Giants, a source told NBC Sports Bay Area. From a management perspective, it certainly was not lost on the team’s decision-makers that Buster Posey publicly lobbied for a Harper deal when he met with reporters Friday. 

That admiration is said to be mutual. Per a source, one of the things Harper talked about with the Giants contingent in a Monday meeting in Las Vegas was how much he likes Posey. That meeting was supposed to last about two hours, but CEO Larry Baer, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy ended up spending four hours with Harper’s camp. 

They did not make an offer during the meeting, but if Zaidi had a concept in mind, he certainly had time to make it known to Scott Boras, Harper's agent. Zaidi, who has been transitioning from Los Angeles, flew back to the city with Boras at the conclusion of Monday’s meeting. 

Zaidi confirmed the team’s interest Friday, but he otherwise has preferred to keep this chase under wraps. Baer did not publicly speak about Harper during the week, but he did take the stage at FanFest on Saturday to answer a few questions. 

“Bryce Harper is an amazing player,” he said. “I can’t handicap it, I don’t know where we are, but we’re giving it a shot. That’s all we can do, I think.”

Baer pointed out that the Giants have had quick turnarounds before, noting the team won 103 games when Barry Bonds joined before the 1993 season. 

“One player can make a difference,” Baer said. “It’s obviously a different sport than basketball, but one player can make a difference.”

The Giants are chasing Harper because he can make a difference in more ways than one. The weather didn’t help, but by any standard, FanFest was stunningly quiet compared to past years. It’s one thing for fans to speak their minds on social media. It's another for them to speak with their wallets. 

[RELATED: Posey calls for every MLB team to be competitive]

If Saturday’s crowd was any indication, a lot of Giants fans aren't happy with the plan to take a step back and get younger. Perhaps it was no accident, then, when Baer threw in one last compliment of Harper as his time on stage came to an end.

“He’s 26 years old, too,” he said.

Here are five reasons to be optimistic about the 2019 Giants season

Here are five reasons to be optimistic about the 2019 Giants season

SAN FRANCISCO -- In just about every way, this has been a brutal offseason and spring for the Giants. 

There were deaths, firings, and the announcement that the manager's tenure is nearly over. They came up short on Bryce Harper after months of speculation. There were off-field issues all the way from the ownership suite to the outfield. The biggest acquisition thus far has been a new scoreboard that might not be ready when the team returns from Scottsdale. 

It is fair to be a salty fan right now, and oh man, do I hear you guys on Twitter. Write a story about a promising 22-year-old pitcher, check the mentions, and you'll see someone raging about the lineup's lack of pop. Write about new technology the team is using on the field, log back in, and you'll see someone angry about an underperforming right-hander. 

But Opening Day brings hope, and it's only a week away. So here are five reasons to be optimistic about the 2019 Giants ...

Starting Five

The last time Madison Bumgarner didn't have a fluke injury, he was worth 4.8 WAR. Two years ago, Jeff Samardzija led the league in innings and had a 2.5 WAR season. Derek Holland found new life last year and was one of the best left-handers in the NL. Dereck Rodriguez never let up, posting a 2.81 ERA as a rookie. Drew Pomeranz was worth 3.9 WAR to the Red Sox just two years ago. 

Sure, there are things that could go wrong with any of these guys, and there are some red flags in the peripherals for a few of them. But on paper, the Giants have a group that potentially could be one of the best in the National League, with Andrew Suarez, Chris Stratton, Tyler Beede, Shaun Anderson and others on deck. 

The starting pitching alone should allow the Giants to be much more competitive than they've been the last two years. 

More of Reyes Moronta

Did you know Reyes Moronta allowed just 34 hits in 65 innings last year, setting a franchise record for fewest hits allowed per nine innings? He had a remarkable season, set back only by a propensity to walk batters early in his appearances. Moronta has looked just as sharp this spring while working in his changeup, and he gives Bruce Bochy one of the best weapons in the league. 

At some point this season, especially if the Giants trade Will Smith, Moronta should start his reign as closer. It's a role he wants, and one he looks ready for.

A Full Season of Steven Duggar 

The young center fielder has had no setbacks after shoulder surgery and looks poised to take over as the leadoff hitter. A full season of Duggar should finally fix the organization's long-running defensive issues in center, and give a big boost to the pitching staff.

And the ultra-competitive 25-year-old isn't here to just get his feet wet at the plate; he wants to steal 30 bases, and he certainly has the skill set to take a run at Angel Pagan's San Francisco Giants record of 15 triples. 

The Breakout

In Los Angeles, Farhan Zaidi helped discover Max Muncy, Chris Taylor and others. Will a current Giant follow that path? 

Beede had a huge spring and could pitch his way into the rotation. Mac Williamson is poised to get his first extended run as a starter and is hoping to build off of his pre-concussion 2018 numbers. Travis Bergen looks like a keeper. Perhaps someone else tears it up in Sacramento early on and gets a look in the big leagues.

There are few things more exciting to a fan base than the player who comes out of nowhere to perform like a star -- remember when we all discovered Rodriguez last summer -- and Zaidi has a history of helping guys figure it out. 

[RELATED: Giants' new role players must step up for team to contend]

Nostalgia

I almost went with "Paul Goldschmidt got traded so the Giants should win at least, like, six more games," but that does actually play a part in the final reason. 

The Giants could have traded Bumgarner ... they didn't, and he'll take the field with a healthy Buster Posey on Opening Day.

They could have traded Joe Panik ... they didn't, he looked great this spring and will once again team with Brandon Crawford for strength up the middle.

Unlike other teams, the Giants kept their core together (in part, to be fair, because they have so many immovable contracts) and it's not unreasonable to expect a lot of better performances. 

Evan Longoria looks like his old self this spring. Brandon Belt was on pace for 30 homers before his appendix flared up last year, and you figure one of these years the Baseball Gods will let him stay healthy for six months. Posey will no longer be in pain in the fifth inning every night.

This is a group that is older, with more toddlers and gray hairs in the clubhouse, but it is also mostly the same set of players that was a ninth-inning meltdown from potentially beating the eventual World Series champion Cubs 29 months ago. Maybe there's one last run in them, especially with players already rallying around the fact that this is Bochy's last season. 

Maybe not. 

But in March, isn't it much more fun to be optimistic?

Brandon Belt reveals how he accidentally cut off half of his eyebrow

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AP

Brandon Belt reveals how he accidentally cut off half of his eyebrow

Whether it's a haircut or a new wardrobe, looking good for picture day was always a must when growing up. For Brandon Belt, a new look was a bit of an accident this year. 

The Giants' first baseman arrived for photos in Scottsdale, Ariz., with something missing. Or a bit of something. Not his beard, not a haircut, but a piece of his right eyebrow. 

"Fortunately, it was right before photo day, so I'm sure it's in every single one of them," Belt said Wednesday night to Amy G during the Giants' spring training game against the Indians. "But, it's comin' back." 

Yes, this wasn't on purpose. So how did this all happen? Let's hear Belt's side of the story. 

"I was trimmin' my nose hairs and it had an eyebrow guard on it, so I thought I'd try it," Belt said. "You get those little stragglers every now and then. I did it on my left side. It looked a little thin so I had to even it out. Did it on my right side and chopped half my eyebrow off." 

[RELATED: Joey Bart joining Giants in 2019 halted by farm director Kyle Haines]

Mistakes happen, and memories are made. Maybe this is exactly what Belt needed to crack 20 home runs this season.