Giants

Vogelsong's return to AT&T Park 'going to be a lot of fun'

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Vogelsong's return to AT&T Park 'going to be a lot of fun'

SAN FRANCISCO — Buster Posey caught Ryan Vogelsong 101 times in the regular season and was behind the plate for every one of his postseason starts, so he knows the right-hander as well as anyone. The two developed a close friendship, and if a tight back doesn’t keep Posey out of Monday’s lineup, he’ll face Vogelsong for the first time.

Given all the time they spent together on the mound and off, who has the advantage?

“You can look at it a couple of different ways,” Posey said. “I know how he likes to work … but he knows that I know how he likes to work.”

The Giants, from Posey to Bruce Bochy to Dave Righetti and on, know Vogelsong’s style inside and out. Which means they know they’re going to get everything the 39-year-old has to offer in his return to AT&T Park. 

Vogelsong, drafted by the organization in 1998, returned in 2011 and had five thrilling seasons in a city his family fell in love with. He made an All-Star team and won two titles, with the Giants going 6-0 in his postseason starts. He was a leader off the field and an inspiration on it.

“He left such a mark on this team,” right fielder Hunter Pence said. “We have a tremendous amount of love and respect for who he is, and we all share a bond. It’s going to be a lot of fun to compete against him.”

This is something Vogelsong has been thinking about since his run in San Francisco ended. The Giants moved on from several veteran pitchers in the offseason, signing Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija to fill out their rotation and committing to a plan to find younger alternatives in the long relief role. Vogelsong wanted to return, but when that door closed he signed a one-year with the Pirates in late December. Vogelsong told MLB.com that he has been thinking about this matchup since the offseason.

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"I don't know if I can be fully prepared for what it's going to be like, but I've tried to get myself ready for it in case it happened,” he said. “It's going to happen."

Vogelsong’s last moment at AT&T Park was an emotional one. He represented the team after the final game of the 2015 season and gave a speech to fans.

"I don't know where I'll be next year or what the front of my jersey will say,” Vogelsong said that day, “But I do know one thing: I will always, always be a Giant.”

There is no doubt that Vogelsong will be welcomed back that way. He was a fan favorite, and Vogelsong’s former teammates expect a raucous ovation.

“As a two-time World Series champion, I think he’s going to get a pretty warm reception,” George Kontos said. “As he should.”

Kontos was one of many players and coaches who reached out to Vogelsong when he was hit by a pitch May 23 and underwent surgery to repair facial fractures. The Giants visited Pittsburgh in June, and several players hung out with the Vogelsong family during that series. At the time, Vogelsong was rehabbing. 

Knowing Vogelsong, there was little doubt he would make it back to the mound in time to face his former team. In two starts back, Vogelsong has allowed three runs in 12 innings. Overall, he has a 2.67 ERA in 14 appearances for the Pirates. 

“That’s not a surprise at all because of the work ethic that guy has,” said Javier Lopez, a close friend. “You knew he was going to give his all to make it back, and he has. It’s nice to see, it really is. You always root for your former teammates, but in particular with friends. I’m sure I’m not alone in the clubhouse in saying that we’re going to be excited to see him.”

What will Farhan Zaidi look for in next Giants manager?

What will Farhan Zaidi look for in next Giants manager?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Whether he’s watching the team from the dugout, standing in the clubhouse hallway, or walking back and forth on the back fields at Scottsdale Stadium, Farhan Zaidi always seems to have his cell phone pressed to his ear. 

That was the case Monday when Bruce Bochy announced that this will be his final season, but Zaidi said he did not get calls from coaches around the game looking to get a head start in the search process. He knows that will change, though. It didn’t take long after Zaidi took the Giants job for colleagues to start asking about a potential GM position, and you can bet that parts of this season will be spent having secret discussions with candidates to replace Bochy.

The man who actually hired Bochy 13 years ago believes that’s a good thing. This won’t be a distraction or an awkward situation, Brian Sabean said. Zaidi was informed during the hiring process that Bochy was likely headed for retirement, and Sabean believes that gave everyone time to get “out front” and “on board.”

“I think it should relax the atmosphere among all parties and give (Bochy) his proper due, give him his proper sendoff, but it also gives Farhan some good lead time to noodle this whole thing or line up how he’s going to attack it,” Sabean said. 

Zaidi has already been through this process once before. He teamed with Andrew Friedman in 2015 to hire Dave Roberts in Los Angeles, and that collaboration proved to be a successful one. Zaidi, a communicator by nature, spent years with the A’s and Dodgers and has given plenty of thought to what or who he would look for if given his own shop.

He wouldn’t give anything away this week, but he has a short list forming in his head already. 

“I think everybody is shaped by their own experience and people that they’ve come into contact with that they value their baseball acumen or their personal values or those kinds of things,” he said. “Everybody just by virtue of their own experience has a list of people that they’ve thought, ‘That guy could be a manager one day,' or, 'If I’m in a position that’s someone I would think about.’”

While Zaidi said this would be a collective process, Larry Baer made it clear that his president of baseball operations will take the lead. Baer said people within the organization — Hensley Meulens and Ron Wotus would be two likely internal candidates — will be considered, but most of the candidates Zaidi has experience with would come from the outside. 

One possible candidate, David Bell, came off the board a couple of weeks before Zaidi was hired. When Bell joined the organization as farm director in 2017, he was viewed as a likely successor to Bochy or general manager Bobby Evans. The Reds hired him away in October. 

Bell was a nice blend of old and new, someone who could be a respected voice in the clubhouse but also work seamlessly with an analytics-driven front office. Roberts has been the same in Los Angeles, and that seems the likely mold for this search. 

But Zaidi promised to be open-minded, pointing out that he and Friedman had no idea Roberts would even be a finalist when they began that search. To that point, two executives known as analytics types put together an eclectic group of candidates when the Dodgers were looking for Don Mattingly’s replacement. 

Gabe Kapler, a favorite to win the Dodgers job back then, was certainly a modern choice. But the Dodgers also reportedly interviewed longtime baseball men Tim Wallach and Ron Roenicke, both of whom were in their late fifties at the time. Kirk Gibson was brought in, and he’s certainly not the type to be a puppet for a front office. Former Angel Darin Erstad, current Rockies manager Bud Black and current Nationals manager Dave Martinez also reportedly interviewed.

That’s not a group that has a ton in common.

[RELATED: Odds for next Giants manager to replace Bruce Bochy brings wild names]

Zaidi has a reputation for being the smartest guy in the room, but he loves spending time with scouts and experienced coaches, and has regularly positioned himself behind the cage this spring, chatting up players and Giants coaches. He eventually will find a replacement for Bochy, but right now it’s not something he’s worrying much about. 

“I’m sure there will be conversations and inquiries along the way, but it’s not the focus for us,” he said. “For me, I’m still trying to learn the organization and the players and make sure I get off to the right start.”

Giants' Buster Posey likely won't play in spring games until March 1

Giants' Buster Posey likely won't play in spring games until March 1

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There has been nothing over the first couple weeks of camp to indicate that Buster Posey won't be ready Opening Day, but the Giants promised all along to be cautious, and that will start Saturday when the Cactus League season kicks off. 

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Posey won't play until March 1, and that may be the case for some other veterans. Brandon Crawford has been watched closely the last couple of years and Bochy wasn't sure if any regulars would be in the lineup Saturday when the Giants visit the Angels.

He said it's the right thing to do with a long spring, although he's hoping to get big names out there soon, aware that fans often pay a lot for spring games. 

"As a kid, I was one of those guys that would skip school to see spring training games in Florida," Bochy said.

Brandon Belt and Joe Panik seem the most likely to get out there early on. Belt said he's eager to see real pitching. As for the rest of the everyday lineup, Evan Longoria fits the vet status, the Giants have position battles in both outfield corners, and Steven Duggar is coming off shoulder surgery and may be a few days behind. 

Bochy had a somewhat unusual spring when veterans like Cameron Maybin, Gerardo Parra, Stephen Vogt and Yangervis Solarte signed late. He said there's no rush to see what they can do. 

"These guys are chipping some rust off," he said. 

[RELATED: Giants 'trying hard' for Bryce Harper, but not optimistic]

--- The schedule for the starters early on: Chris Stratton and Ty Blach on Saturday; Madison Bumgarner on Sunday; Derek Holland and Drew Pomeranz on Monday; Dereck Rodriguez on Tuesday; Jeff Samardzija and Andrew Suarez on Wednesday. 

--- At the beginning of camp, Bochy said he hoped to get Joey Bart into early Cactus League games. That remains the plan. 

--- One more on the "Bochy is retiring" front: Here's what Bob Melvin had to say.

--- I wrote about top pitching prospect Shaun Anderson the other day. Here's some video of him in action today. There's certainly a Noah Syndergaard thing going on at times.