Two of the most popular players to ever come through the clubhouse at Oracle Park announced their retirement Thursday in a fascinating way.
Former Giants Gregor Blanco and Nick Hundley are joining the commissioner's office as Senior Directors in Baseball Operations, the league announced. Blanco and Hundley, both 36 years old, will report to former big league pitcher Chris Young, who will oversee all on-field operations and umpiring departments for the league office.
Blanco and Hundley are both perfectly suited for the role, which was described as being all-encompassing for baseball operations. They will serve as MLB liaisons to clubs, players and umpires, will aid in administering on-field discipline, and will provide insights regarding rules, technology, instant replay and other initiatives. They will also participate in MLB's youth initiatives in the United States and Latin America.
The involvement in discipline decisions might come easier to Hundley than Blanco, who might have been the nicest player to put on a Giants uniform over the past decade. Hundley was calm off the field, but was sneaky fiery behind the plate, a trait that showed most clearly when he went after Yasiel Puig and started a benches-clearing brawl.
Off the field, Blanco and Hundley were two of the more helpful and inquisitive players the Giants have had. Both became clubhouse leaders, with Blanco taking on an instrumental role in bringing young Spanish-speaking players into the fold. Hundley immediately became a clubhouse leader upon joining the Giants in 2017 and remains close to many of the team's veterans despite only playing two seasons in San Francisco.
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Hundley always seemed a natural to become a manager and Blanco has displayed an interest in coaching, but both ended up in the league office first, a good jumping-off point for former players. Both played last season, with Blanco spending the year in Triple-A for the Mets and Hundley making 31 appearances for the A's.
SAN FRANCISCO -- It's rare for a player to come to a new team, serve as a backup and leave at the end of September with such a high approval rating that team employees and fans openly joke about him becoming their next manager. That's the kind of impact Stephen Vogt had in 2019.
Vogt played 99 games for the Giants but agreed to a one-year deal with the rival Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday with a vesting option for a second year. Vogt was interested in returning and the Giants liked his presence alongside Buster Posey, but he told the San Francisco Chronicle that he chose the Diamondbacks over the Giants and one other suitor.
Vogt will be missed by the fan base but also in the clubhouse, where he had a locker alongside Brandon Crawford and a few feet from Posey and Madison Bumgarner. Vogt thanked his teammates in a message posted to Twitter on Tuesday night, along with many others:
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This is the second consecutive offseason that the Giants are losing a popular backup catcher. Nick Hundley was a similar player before leaving last offseason. Giants fans won't have to wait long to get a chance to show appreciation for Vogt. The Diamondbacks visit on the season's first homestand.
If you glance at the box score for the A's Wednesday matinee matchup against Cleveland, you'll see some full numbers from backup catcher Nick Hundley.
The 35-year-old dominated at the dish in the 7-2 win and series sweep, finishing just a triple shy of the cycle on three hits with a home run and two RBI. This assisted in lifting the A's to the .500 mark for the first time since April 26. He told the San Francisco Chronicle's Susan Slusser after his successful day that Oakland is just hitting its stride.
“This is the type of baseball we expect to play,” Hundley said. “We expect to go out there and pitch well, we’ve been playing really good defense and up and down the lineup we have the ability to drive the ball. This is what we envisioned at the start of the season. It isn’t what we were doing at the start of the season, but that doesn’t matter now.”
Hundley is also now 11 for his last 28 in 13 games. Those numbers are night and day compared to how he started the season.
The veteran catcher also admitted he dubbed himself as someone who "wasn't a very good baseball player" during that time.
It appears those days are in the past -- both figuratively and literally. And it couldn't have come at a more opportune time for the A's.
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Slugger Khris Davis has missed multiple games due to a nagging left hip contusion and was left out of Tuesday's lineup. Mark Canha took over designated hitting responsibilities and went 2-for5 with three RBI.
The Green and Gold have now won six in a row. They have an off day Thursday and return to Oakland Friday to begin a nine-game homestand.