Giants

Steven Duggar sets lofty goal of stealing 30 bases for Giants in 2019

Steven Duggar sets lofty goal of stealing 30 bases for Giants in 2019

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When he was breaking into the majors last year and dealing with your typical rookie growing pains, Steven Duggar sat down with hitting coach Alonzo Powell.

"Check one box a night," Powell told Duggar in an effort to slow everything down. 

What Powell meant was that Duggar should focus on doing just one thing every game to help the Giants win. Run down a line drive to save your pitcher. Score a run. Knock in a teammate. Steal a base. Move a runner over from second to third. Just do something every night to contribute, and over time it will all add up.

In his second season, Duggar is ready to be a bit more ambitious, particularly in one area of his game that should blossom. 

"I've set a soft goal," he said this week when asked about stolen bases. "I'd like to get to 30. I think I can get to 30. It's a lofty goal, but I think that if I can set my sights high and try to aim for 30 -- if we could reach 30 that would be unreal -- but if we end up somewhere around 20 or 25, that would be great, too."

For the Giants, even 20 stolen bases has been lofty in recent years. Andrew McCutchen (13 steals) was the only Giant in double-figures last season. You have to go back to peak Hunter Pence in 2013 (22) to find someone who hit 20. Angel Pagan swiped 29 in 2012, but the Giants haven't had anyone steal 30 in so long that the man who did it in 2007, Dave Roberts, now manages the rival Dodgers.

Roberts was the first Giant in a decade to steal 30 bags. 

So, the soft goal is indeed a lofty one. But it's also one Duggar has the raw ability to reach. BaseballSavant.com allows you to organize players by five-foot splits, and Duggar's speed is elite by any measure. 

To travel 30 feet, Duggar had the fifth-fastest split (1.67 seconds) in the majors last year, giving him the same time as Billy Hamilton. For 60 feet, Duggar (2.76) ranks 13th, sandwiched between Hamilton and Trea Turner. Hamilton has four 50-steal seasons and Turner has swiped 40-plus each of the past two years.

There is more to this than natural speed, of course. Duggar was successful in five of six attempts last season but stole just 42 bases in the minors, where he battled injuries at times. The difference now, Duggar said, is that he's working with better technique. 

Duggar constantly stayed behind after workouts last spring to work on his first step with instructor Vince Coleman, who -- this is not a typo -- stole 100 bases in each of his first three big league seasons. Coleman immediately recognized a flaw in Duggar's technique. 

Duggar used to crouch low, meaning his first move would be to pop up a bit before he took off for second. Coleman showed him guys like Hamilton and Ricky Henderson who wasted no movement heading towards second base.

Duggar is more upright now -- "that's made a huge difference in the first step," he said -- and he has worked with Coleman and third base coach Ron Wotus on changing his mindset, too. 

"Before I was so nervous to get picked off that in the back of your mind your first step is always back instead of forward," he said. "It's more aggressive now. But it's also about knowing when to go, being smart, seeing who is hitting, who is on the mound -- there are a lot of factors."

The Giants will weigh them all, and you can bet that quite often they'll let Duggar take the risk, particularly if the defense is shifting and he may have a chance to catch defenders out of position. The roster has not been injected with power, and it remains unclear how the same lineup that was so poor the previous two seasons can support the pitching staff this season. 

[RELATED: Why Steven Duggar wants to bring bunts back to life for Giants in 2019]

One partial solution could be to have a disruptive leadoff hitter, allowing Duggar to dream of a season in which he is constantly taking second or third in front of Buster Posey and the rest of the core.  

"Every 90 feet could be huge for us," Duggar said.

Source: Giants interested in Cubs' Will Venable for managerial opening

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Source: Giants interested in Cubs' Will Venable for managerial opening

SAN FRANCISCO -- Bruce Bochy spent 25 consecutive years as a big league manager, but it appears the Giants are looking to go the opposite route as they search for Bochy's replacement.

Two weeks in, there's a consistent theme with the known names in the managerial search. They mostly are younger and without much, if any, managerial experience, although they are well thought of within the industry.

The Giants started the process by interviewing current coaches Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus, and a source told NBC Sports Bay Area that A's quality control coach Mark Kotsay interviewed last Monday. Royals quality control coach Pedro Grifol interviewed Thursday, according to Ken Rosenthal of The Athletic, and former Phillies manager Gabe Kapler will sit down with Farhan Zaidi, according to Jon Heyman of MLB Network.

Per league sources, the Giants also have interest in Will Venable, who currently is the first base coach for the Chicago Cubs. Venable, 36, spent eight years as a Padres outfielder and finished his career with the Dodgers in 2016, when Zaidi was the general manager there.

A product of Princeton, Venable joined the Cubs as a special assistant in 2017 and was elevated to Joe Maddon's staff a year later. He also is in consideration for the Cubs' managerial opening.

Zaidi has said he expects to interview six to eight external candidates, but it's possible that some of the names connected to the Giants won't necessarily be in a position to be the new manager. This is an opportunity for Zaidi to spend time with some of the brightest young minds on other big league staffs, and some of the candidates may end up in consideration to join the Giants in other roles.

[RELATED: Why Pillar could be non-tender candidate]

The coaching staff is expected to undergo significant changes under new leadership, and all of Bochy's coaches had contracts that expired at the end of the 2019 season. Zaidi also needs to hire a new general manager and has said that department heads are still deciding what to do with some longtime front office employees.

MLB rumors: Giants grant Phillies permission to interview Dusty Baker

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MLB rumors: Giants grant Phillies permission to interview Dusty Baker

Dusty Baker could reunite with Bryce Harper, and it's all thanks to the ... Giants? 

The Chicago Tribune's Mark Gonzales reported Sunday that the Giants gave the Phillies permission to interview Baker to be their next manager. The 70-year-old currently is a special adviser to CEO Larry Baer in San Francisco. 

Baker last managed in the major leagues when he led Harper and the Nationals to 97 wins in 2017. But Washington lost to the Cubs in the first round of the playoffs that season, despite winning the NL East. 

The Nationals won the NL East both years that Baker managed in Washington DC -- 2016 and 2017 -- and averaged 96 wins in his two seasons. They also failed to advance past the first round of the playoffs both times. 

Baker began his managerial career in 1993 when he won 103 games with the Giants. He served as San Francisco's manager from 1993 to 2002 and compiled an 840-715 regular-season record, though his teams went just 11-13 in the playoffs, including losing the 2002 World Series to the Angels in seven games.

Over his 22-year managerial career, Baker has 1,863 wins to 1,636 losses, but is 23-32 in the playoffs. 

[RELATED: Report: Giants interviewed Royals' Grifol for manager job]

The Phillies seem to be looking for veteran leadership from their new manager. Along with Baker, MLB Network's Jon Heyman reported Sunday that Philadelphia also will consider Buck Showalter, Joe Girardi and Mike Scioscia as candidates.

Gabe Kapler was fired by the Phillies after the regular season as the team disappointed in Harper's first year on his new team. Heyman reported Saturday that the Giants will interview Kapler for their vacant manager position.