Pat Burrell

What Pat Burrell remembers most from Giants' 2010 World Series run

What Pat Burrell remembers most from Giants' 2010 World Series run

This season was supposed to help vault the Giants into the future, but it was also going to celebrate a huge part of their past.

The organization planned to spend much of the summer looking back at the 2010 team that finally brought a World Series title to San Francisco, culminating with a weekend reunion in the middle of August. The Giants planned to hold the reunion August 16 and give out replica rings to the first 30,000 fans to stream through the gates. 

That's all up in the air now, and while games that far ahead haven't been canceled yet, nobody can imagine a situation where fans are able to celebrate the 10-year anniversary of that team in person anytime soon. On this week's Giants Insider Podcast, Pat Burrell, an integral part of the lineup that year, said he's hopeful the organization still honors that team at some point. 

"I hope we get a chance to do something and it's not like a Zoom reunion," Burrell said, laughing. 

The Giants certainly will find a way when baseball gets back to normal. They do ceremonies better than anyone, and the 2010 reunion was going to be a big one. Many of those players returned last September for Bruce Bochy's final game and talked about how much they were looking forward to the 2010 reunion, and even the elusive Tim Lincecum was expected to be back. 

When Burrell, now hitting coach for the San Jose Giants, was asked what stood out about that team, he mentioned that pitching staff that included Lincecum. But the first thing that came to mind was something else.

"The momentum. If you were close to that team or around it, there was such a sense that there was something special there," Burrell said. 

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Burrell, a Bay Area native, signed with the Giants in late May of that season after being DFA'd by Tampa Bay. He provided a needed dose of power, hitting 18 homers in 289 at-bats. That was one of several significant under-the-radar moves that general manager Brian Sabean made to bolster the lineup, which didn't need to do much. The pitching just needed a little help.

"The pitching was so next-level and I don't think a lot of people realized how good the pitching was," Burrell said. "I did because I had come from other places that were heavily loaded offensive teams and always searching for the pitching. When I got to San Francisco, to see the arms, the starting pitching, the bullpen -- the bullpen, I don't know that they could ever get enough credit for what they did for those block of years with the three championships -- that just doesn't happen a whole lot.

"You can interchange offensive parts like they did and be successful, but it's really hard to lose pitching, and they were able to keep those guys around. Once we started scoring a little more runs, once our offense got into sync there, we started gaining momentum, and it just didn't stop." 

That staff was led by Lincecum, the two-time reigning Cy Young Award winner, and Matt Cain, who had a 3.14 ERA in 223 1/3 innings. Jonathan Sanchez had his best season in 2010 and a 20-year-old Madison Bumgarner bolstered the rotation down the stretch and in October. The bullpen was brilliant, with Brian Wilson backing the Core Four. 

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The lineup skewed much older, and Burrell remembers a sense that everyone was coming together to take one final run at big league success. 

"It was kind of the last chance for us to do something," Burrell said. "We couldn't have asked for a better environment. As an offense, we really weren't asked to do so much because the pitching was so good."

Pat Burrell explains what makes Giants prospect Marco Luciano special

Pat Burrell explains what makes Giants prospect Marco Luciano special

Pat Burrell hit 18 homers after signing with the Giants two months into the 2010 season, and he retired with nine 20-homer seasons and four 30-homer seasons on his résumé. That's exactly the kind of power production the Giants have been desperately searching for in recent years, and as they rebuild their farm system and organizational structure, they're counting on Burrell's experience to help the next generation.

This month was supposed to be Burrell's first as hitting coach for the San Jose Giants, who play just a few minutes from Bellarmine College Prep, where he starred in high school. Whenever San Jose is cleared to play, Burrell will be in charge of some of the organization's best hitting prospects, and he got some early time with them at a camp in January and during a couple of weeks of minor league spring training. 

Burrell came away impressed by the prospects, including with 18-year-old shortstop Marco Luciano, who is considered by some to be the organization's top prospect. On Tuesday's episode of the Giants Insider Podcast, Burrell talked about what makes Luciano special.

"He creates a lot of torque, a lot of bat speed. It looks easy for him," Burrell said. "You throw batting practice, which I've started doing, and certain guys just stand out, they just do. Certain guys cover larger percentages of the plate with less effort. Obviously the power is there and he coils up nicely. Remember Alfonso Soriano with the Yankees, how there's kind of a coil there and then just an explosion of power there? It's similar to that, he's got a similar build."

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Luciano would have had a strong chance to come through San Jose this year, and Hunter Bishop -- last year's first-round pick -- might have spent much of his season with Burrell. The two have a natural connection, as Bishop starred at Serra High, another traditional power in the West Catholic Athletic League. But Burrell joked that he's found those ties aren't always realized since the players he's coaching are so young. Bishop was born three years after Burrell graduated from high school.

Burrell eventually found his way back home, helping the Giants win the 2010 title. The organization hopes this next wave of prospects can get the Giants back to prominence, and Burrell is a believer. 

"In the past five years when I wasn't involved, or more, all you heard about was the lack of talent in the Giants' minor league system, and when I went to January camp, seeing (Heliot) Ramos, seeing Luciano, (Luis) Matos -- these guys, there's a lot of natural ability there," Burrell said. "Luciano, I'd be surprised if he doesn't move really quick. Joey Bart, he's been up and down in camp, he's half in the door already, it seems like to me. Hunter Bishop, I mean, wow, he's a very talented player. He's got a ways to go but all the intangible things are there. He's a big man, moves (well), unbelievable power, and he can really run, so we definitely have some big pieces that are coming."

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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." 

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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.