Giants

What Hunter Bishop learned from Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval in spring

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AP

What Hunter Bishop learned from Hunter Pence, Pablo Sandoval in spring

Hunter Bishop grew up going to Giants games with his father Randy and brother Braden. Just like thousands of other kids at the ballpark, Bishop cheered for his favorite players with dreams of one day playing on that same field. 

This spring, Bishop found himself wearing a Giants jersey at Scottsdale Stadium and was teammates with Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval, two players he rooted for as a fan just a few years ago. He let himself take in the moment, but he quickly had to turn the fan side of his thoughts off. 

"It's just all coming full circle," Bishop said to MiLB.com's Katie Woo. "At the end of the day, though, you're able to be a fanboy for a little and then it becomes a reality. For me, it's like I want to take it in, but also I'm not far away.

"I'm one good season away from being right in the mix."

The Giants selected Bishop with the No. 10 pick in the 2019 MLB Draft after the Bay Area native hit 22 home runs as a junior at Arizona State University. This spring, Bishop spent a few games in big league camp and said he saw from veterans like Pence and Sandoval that "they're never too high and never too low" and learned how to have a more mature mentality. 

Bishop learned right away in his first minor league season what a roller coaster professional baseball can be. He had a 1.033 OPS through seven games in the Arizona Rookie League last year before being called up Class A Short Season with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes. But he hit just .224 with 28 strikeouts in 25 games at the higher level. 

"This has definitely been a learning experience," Bishop said to Woo. "Coming from college, where you're practicing two hours a day and then your games are four times a week, to go to every day, six to seven hours ... I love it, but it's definitely a learning curve.

"It's a process to get acclimated to the pro ball scene." 

[RELATED: What Benito Santiago remembers from huge '02 NLCS homer]

Bishop, MLB Pipeline's No. 71 overall prospect and No. 4 in the Giants farm system, has all the traits to be a fast riser to San Francisco. The 6-foot-5 center field has both speed and power and has been praised for his attitude and work ethic. When the minor league season starts -- it has been suspended due to the coronavirus pandemic -- Bishop very well could be in San Jose, where former Giants outfielder Pat Burrell has been named hitting coach for the 2020 season. 

Whether it be from Burrell, Pence or Sandoval, Bishop is getting the rare opportunity to learn from those he used to watch as a fan. If he puts all his skills together and continues to improve, however, he quickly could go from Giants fan to player before we know it.

Former Giant Randy Winn describes feeling of month-long hot streak

Former Giant Randy Winn describes feeling of month-long hot streak

A starting pitcher can take control of a game and singlehandedly lead his team to a win, but in general, it's hard for baseball players to will their team to victory day after day.

Starters pitch once every five days and position players know that even on a five-hit night, you're dependent on your own pitchers standing tall, and every time you reach base, you have to wait a couple innings for another chance to impact the game.

But every once in a while, a hitter gets so hot that it seems he's carrying his team for weeks at a time. The Giants last truly experienced this in 2018, when Brandon Crawford briefly thrust himself into the MVP race and earned an All-Star selection with an absurd stretch in May and June.

Buster Posey won the MVP award with his second half of 2012, and Melky Cabrera dragged the Giants to plenty of wins earlier that year before failing a PED test. In the first half of this century, Barry Bonds could carry the lineup for weeks, even seasons, at a time. 

Randy Winn experienced that after being traded to the Giants from the Mariners in 2005, and that year he had his own hot streak that to this day is one of the most impressive in franchise history. Over the final 30 games of that season, Winn had 54 hits in 123 at-bats, good for a .439 batting average. He hit 11 homers, 13 doubles and three triples, with a slugging percentage of .862 and OPS of 1.331. 

On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Winn recalled what it felt like to get that hot for such a long period of time. 

"Nothing felt different -- everything just felt really, really easy and really slow," Winn said. "Whenever I felt like I wanted to take a pitch, the pitcher would throw a ball. If in my mind I was thinking, you know what, he might throw me a changeup, and he would throw me a changeup and it was very hittable. When anybody describes 'the zone' or being on fire, what they say is always the same: Everything was really slow, I was really relaxed, and my mind was really clear.

"When I think back on that time or other times when I was hitting really well, those are always the things that I remember. I didn't feel different, I wasn't really doing anything different. It just feels like you're in control of everything."

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Winn was having a solid season to that point, with a .273 average and .742 OPS. He opened September with eight hits in a three-game sweep of the Diamondbacks and never looked back, finishing the year with a .306 average. Winn had 17 multi-hit games in September, including three four-hit games. His 51 hits that month set a San Francisco Giants record that Cabrera tied in May of 2012. 

"It was a great situation for me," Winn said of the midseason trade that brought him to San Francisco. "Coming home, still live in the Bay Area, grew up in the Bay Area, my wife is from the Bay Area, our parents at that time lived in the Bay Area, so for us it was a homecoming and it was just great to be back home."

[RELATED: Why "Champ" Timmy is the best version of former Giants ace]

On the podcast, Winn also talks about how he would handle this layoff, what it was like playing college basketball with Steve Nash, what made Bonds and Albert Pujols so great, and much more. 

Giants fans vote 'Champ' Tim Lincecum as best version of former ace

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AP

Giants fans vote 'Champ' Tim Lincecum as best version of former ace

You the fans have spoken.

We asked you to designate your favorite version of former Giants ace Tim Lincecum, and the social media response was overwhelming.

Lincecum was a part of all three World Series-winning teams in 2010, 2012, and 2014 in San Francisco.

During his first postseason run in 2010, Lincecum put together an impressive stretch of performances, solidifying himself as a franchise icon.

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He kicked off the 2010 MLB Playoffs by throwing a 119-pitch shutout with 14 strikeouts against the Atlanta Braves in Game 1, propping up an offense that only mustered one run of support to give the Giants a leg up in the five-game division series.

He followed that effort up by striking out eight Phillies in a Game 1 road win in Philadelphia, when Cody Ross’ two home runs led the Giants to a 4-3 win.

[RELATED: Forbes values Giants as worth $3.1B, fifth-highest in MLB]

Lincecum wrapped up the postseason by earning two World Series wins, including the series clincher in Game 5, striking out 10 Texas Rangers over eight innings as the Giants won their first Fall Classic since the franchise relocated to the west coast in 1958.

Although Lincecum earned plenty of nicknames during his legendary career in San Francisco, “Champ” definitely has a nice ring to it.