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Bochy compares Duggar to Gold Glove center fielder he coached with Padres

Bochy compares Duggar to Gold Glove center fielder he coached with Padres

When Bruce Bochy first became the Padres' manager in 1995, he had a speedy, left-handed hitting Steve Finley roaming center field and swiping stolen bases. Finley was 30 years old in 1995. Steven Duggar wasn't even two years old yet. 

Fast forward 23 years later and Bochy may have his new Finley, but he throws right handed and is younger at 24 years old. 

"As far as talent, they're both good runners, good ballplayers, smart ballplayers, and they're both built the same," Bochy said to Mike Krukow after comparing Duggar to Finley in the second inning of the Giants' spring training game Sunday against the Dodgers. 

Bochy sees more than just a talent comparison with the two. "I'll tell ya, not just in his style of play -- left-handed hitter and a great defender, but the way he looks. He looks like Steve Finley's kid." Bochy even said he saw Finley before spring training and told Finley he had to come to Scottsdale to meet Duggar. 

The rookie is looking to make his case to be the Giants' Opening Day center fielder and put on quite the display against the Orange and Black's biggest rival. Duggar has started off hot at the plate this spring and has flashed his glove that everyone can't stop talking about. Bochy is certainly taking notice. 

"He's got a chance to make this club," Bochy said. "We're giving him a lot of playing time. He's a gifted defender. The hitting part -- he's gonna be a good hitter.

"He's intriguing because the defense he's bringing. He's gonna bring speed. He's got discipline at the plate and for a young hitter trying to make the major leagues, the discipline he's got, it works the way he can get on base and work pitchers. We're taking a good, hard look at him."

And only a few minutes later, Duggar showed how gifted of a defender he is. With the bases loaded and Jeff Samardzija struggling in a long second inning, Chase Utley came to the plate. The veteran smoked a line shot to center field and Duggar ended the inning with a smooth diving catch. 

The Giants badly need more athleticism in the outfield after seeing balls continuously drop or get over their head last season. Samardzija and the rest of the pitching staff may soon have a new best friend. 

"To see someone out there go get the ball makes my job a whole lot easier. That's such an important part of the game. Up the middle -- center field, short, second. Obviously we got the catcher on lock, short and second so we're not worried about that.

"It's good to see someone in center running that ball down and having fun doing it. It looks real natural for him and he plays the ball real well in the air," Samardzija said of Duggar on the NBC Sports Bay Area broadcast. 

Already showing off his glove, it was time for Duggar to grab another tool from his bag in the next inning with his bat. In the bottom of the third inning, Duggar stepped in against Kenta Maeda and crushed a hanging curveball over the right-field fence. 

The home run was Duggar's third of the spring in seven games. Duggar finished the day 1-for-1 with the home run, a walk, and raised his batting average to .412. 

In Bochy's first season as a manger, his center fielder hit 10 home runs, stole 36 bases and went on to win a Gold Glove. This season, the manager is being pushed by Finely 2.0 and the veteran Giants could soon have a fresh face leading the outfield.


Sacramento native Rhys Hoskins reaches Home Run Derby semis


Sacramento native Rhys Hoskins reaches Home Run Derby semis

WASHINGTON — Bryce Harper thrilled the home crowd and surely made his father proud, winning the All-Star Home Run Derby on Monday night with an exceptional display of power that carried him past Kyle Schwarber of the Chicago Cubs 19-18.

Harper hit the contest-winning blast in extra time, the reward for hitting two homers at least 440 feet during the 4 minutes of regulation. After he connected with the game winner, the Washington Nationals slugger threw his bat in the air and pointed both index fingers toward the sky as a shower of streamers rained upon the crowd of 43,698.

The six-time All-Star arranged to have his dad, Ron, pitch to him in the annual contest on the eve of the All-Star Game. Harper responded with a performance that drew the loudest cheers of the night at Nationals Park.

It’s been a trying season for Harper, who’s hitting only .214 for the disappointing Nationals. He won a contest that many sluggers avoid, fearful it might wear them out and throw them off.

Harper can only hope this helps him get back into the swing.

The 2015 NL MVP beat Freddie Freeman of the Atlanta Braves and Max Muncy of the Dodgers before trumping the fifth-seeded Schwarber, who put the pressure on with a solid outing before Harper stepped to the plate.

Wearing a headband that resembled the District of Columbia flag and displaying a right sleeve with stars and stripes, Harper trailed 18-9 with 1:20 left before rallying. He homered on nine of his last 10 swings before entering extra time.

Hours before the session, Harper spoke excitedly about having his dad pitch to him in the contest. The 25-year-old said his father “worked his tail off every single day to provide for me and my family” and “now being able to have him throw to me in a big league ballpark is the cherry on top.”

Harper advanced to the final with an astonishing spree of long-ball hitting. He trailed Max Muncy of the Dodgers 12-4 with 2:20 left, then peeled off six homers in 47 seconds before calling a timeout.

Harper returned to hit three more home runs in 22 seconds, the last of them inside the right-field foul pole.

The semifinal matchup between Schwarber and Philadelphia’s Rhys Hoskins was a thriller. After stunning top-seed Jesus Aguilar of Milwaukee in the opening round, the eighth-seeded Hoskins ripped 20 long balls to put the pressure on Schwarber.

Using a late surge, Schwarber pulled one ball after another over the right field wall to squeeze out a 21-20 victory — by far the highest-scoring matchup of the night.

The fans dutifully cheered most home runs during the first round, but they saved their loudest cheers for Harper, the last player to step to the plate.

After Freeman hit 12 home runs over the 4-minute span, Harper unleashed six shots of at least 440 feet and secured the victory with a drive to center long before the clock expired. As the ball cleared the wall, the left-handed hitting Harper walked out of the batter’s box and thrust both arms in the air.

Freeman was the oldest player in the field at 28, and the first Braves participant since Andruw Jones in 2005.

Milwaukee’s Aguilar, the NL home run leader at the break, was eliminated in the opening round by Hoskins 17-12.

Aguilar hit too many balls to straightaway center, where the wall stands over 400 feet from the plate. Hoskins pumped most of his drives into the left-field seats, where it’s 336 feet down the line.

The most thrilling first-round match featured a near buzzer-beater by Houston’s Alex Bregman, who fell to Schwarber 16-15. The difference was the pair of homers that Schwarber hit during 30 seconds of extra time, the reward for hitting two long balls of at least 440 feet.

Bregman — the lone AL representative — appeared defeated with a minute left, but he mounted a late surge and lost when his final swing produced a drive that landed at the base of the center-field wall.

Muncy advanced by defeating No. 6 seed Javier Baez of the Cubs, 16-15. Baez hit the longest shot of the Derby, a 479-footer.

Aaron Rodgers hits fan jumping off a boat in Tahoe in stride with perfect throw


Aaron Rodgers hits fan jumping off a boat in Tahoe in stride with perfect throw

Green Bay Packers quarterback (and former Cal Golden Bear) Aaron Rodgers is known for his downfield accuracy. 

Rodgers has three successful Hail Marys to his name. The first, on Dec. 3, 2015 against the Detroit Lions, kept his team's playoff hopes alive. Another, on Jan. 16, 2016 against the Arizona Cardinals, sent the Divisional game to overtime, and a third came en route to a Wild Card game win against the New York Giants on Jan. 8, 2007. 

At the American Century Championship Celebrity Golf Tournament in Lake Tahoe on Friday, Rodgers added another notch to his belt.

His latest effort won't be confused with the other three, but it's not like any of those receivers landed in a body of water, either. 

The real question? Whether or not that's a catch under the NFL's new rules.