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Trade back to Giants caught reliever Watson by surprise

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Tony Watson is in his 11th MLB season and the Los Angeles Angels were his fourth big-league team, so he knew the drill when the trade deadline approached. But Watson also is coming off an offseason that didn't bring much interest and he wasn't in any serious rumors before Friday, so he wasn't expecting to be leaving. 

Watson was at lunch with his family in Anaheim when his phone rang shortly after 1 p.m. Angels general manager Perry Minasian was on the other end, and Watson thought perhaps Minasian -- whose brother, Zack, is an executive for the Giants -- was calling to tell him about a trade of Alex Cobb, Andrew Heaney or perhaps Angels closer Raisel Iglesias. 

"I didn't really know why he was calling me, and then he said we're moving you to San Francisco. There was kind of an awkward silence for about 10 seconds," Watson said Saturday, smiling. "I said, 'Wow, that's great.' I started thinking about the standings and the playoff push and the relationships that we've built. My family was really excited. I was really excited. I went home and packed my stuff and tried to get here as fast as I could."

Watson made it up the coast a few hours later and was activated Saturday, with the Giants optioning rookie Sammy Long to Triple-A. Long was the fourth lefty in the bullpen and now it's Watson, who brings more experience to a group that has been borderline dominant in recent weeks. 

 

Watson might have been in the other league for four months, but he still followed the Giants and he faced them twice in June. He said he's particularly happy for Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey, two of his teammates for three prior years in San Francisco, and credited the front office for building "incredible" depth.

Watson saw part of it last year, when he pitched in the late innings for Gabe Kapler. It's unclear what his immediate role will be, because the Giants have Jake McGee and Jarlin Garcia to face lefties from the seventh on. But they're trying to build for October, particularly if the Dodgers -- and Max Muncy, Corey Seager and Cody Bellinger -- are in the other dugout, and they trust Watson to get big outs. 

"I'll be here and do my part, whatever they ask of me," he said. "I've been in these (races) before and this is what it's all about, playing into October, playing baseball and meaningful baseball into September. Whatever they ask of me, I'll be ready to go. I'm trying to blend in and not get in anyone's way because they've got a good thing going here."

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That's part of what the Giants are counting on. Farhan Zaidi said Watson was the right addition because his stuff has ticked up in recent weeks, but also because he was a leader of the clubhouse during his prior stint. The Giants believe they have better chemistry than anyone, and Watson should only help. 

He sounds ready to join right in, and he smiled when told that veteran Giants -- plus 25-year-old Logan Webb, of course -- have been wearing "let the old guys play" shirts during batting practice.

"I need one," the 36-year-old said, "Because I'm definitely the old guy."

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