Shawn Estes

Shawn Estes advises Giants starters on how to stay ready during hiatus

Shawn Estes advises Giants starters on how to stay ready during hiatus

Every day seems to bring a new round of terrifying updates regarding the coronavirus (COVID-19) outbreak, and as baseball players sit home and digest the news, they have no idea when they'll be able to play again. But they're staying ready, as many, including several Giants players, have made clear on their social media pages. 

Evan Longoria recently posted a video of a session in his indoor batting cage and Mauricio Dubon has been working out on his balcony. Dereck Rodriguez's wife posted a clip of a portable pitching mound the right-hander now has. 

The starting pitchers are the ones who have the most work to do right now, and a former Giants starter gave his suggestions on how to stay ready on this week's episode of The Giants Insider Podcast. Shawn Estes, who pitched in the big leagues for 13 years and now is an analyst for NBC Sports Bay Area, said starters should try to replicate their normal routine as much as they can given what they're working with. 

"I would try to keep it as a starting pitcher as close to (my) every-five-day routine," Estes said. "You can still go out and get your cardio in, you can get your lifting in, you can throw a bullpen if you have that opportunity ... On your fifth day go out there and kind of do a simulated game, obviously without hitters there. Throw to a catcher and sit down, and I would probably do that for 80 pitches. 

"You know there's still going to be at worst a three-week spring training that you can actually get your arm ready to throw 100 pitches. I wouldn't overdo it until they announce that there's going to be a spring training but I would try to be at 80 pitches if at all possible. I would try to keep it as close to my five-day routine as I could."

[RELATED: Crawford creates fan favorites bracket]

Giants starters were getting into that range just as camp was shut down. If there is a season, the biggest baseball issue for teams will be making sure pitchers are ready to restart and throw at least four to five innings right away without getting hurt. Rosters are sure to be expanded to add coverage, but starting pitchers will still carry a heavier load than others, and they won't have a six-week spring training to ramp back up. Some on other teams have posted clips where they've thrown to catchers recently, although those guidelines might soon be changed. 

Estes talked about what a spring training might look like on the podcast and also touched on how a shortened season might help the Giants, the current vibe in his hometown of Scottsdale, and the possibility of pitchers getting hurt. You can stream the podcast here or download it on iTunes here.

Former Giants reveal how they'd handle spring training cancellation

Former Giants reveal how they'd handle spring training cancellation

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants told reporters today that their workout facility will remain closed for the weekend to undergo a deep cleaning amid the coronavirus outbreak, and plan on re-opening Monday for players' workouts. Major League Baseball also announced players have the green light to head home or stay in their respective spring training cities to continue baseball activities, if they so desire.

Since I wasn’t able to talk to any current Giants players, I reached out to a few former San Francisco fan favorites, who now reside in Arizona. Former Giants and current NBC Sports Bay Area analysts Rich Aurilia and Shawn Estes shared their takes on how they would handle the cancellation of spring training and postponement of the regular season from both a pitching (Estes) and position-player (Aurilia) perspective.

Here’s what they had to say.

Shawn Estes

"I would treat this as if spring training hadn’t ended. It would be business as usual, with the exception of playing real games against real competition. I would simulate my normal spring training routine as if I were pitching every fifth day and do everything I would normally do in between starts (run, lift, throw bullpen, etc).

"I would simulate game days as close as possible and build up pitch count by throwing to live hitters in the cage or on the field. I would throw 15-20 pitches an inning and try to put myself in real game situations. As soon as I built up to 100 pitches I’d yo-yo between 80 and 100 pitches every fifth day until we resumed.

"It would also be a great opportunity, with the technology and knowledge of the coaching staff, to work on cleaning up mechanics, improve spin on pitches, and study video of opposing hitters you’d most likely face when the season starts. Really, the guys that are able to stay as close to their normal routines as possible and simulate with purpose won’t need but a week or less to be ready for games that matter."

[RELATED: MLB's coronavirus hiatus hits fans hard at spring training]

Rich Aurilia

"It’s a situation we haven’t seen before. If I was a current player, the concerns I would have are the close proximity in the clubhouse. Could be anywhere from 50-75 guys in that clubhouse. They’ve taken measures to keep fans at a distance which helps, but I think as far as the illness goes, the proximity and closeness with teammates and players on the other team on a daily basis is what’s on your mind. 
"Being a position player and a hitter, I would say this is around the time of spring training you start to feel pretty good about yourself and you’re ready to break camp, so my concern would be the longer you have between facing live pitching, the more your timing is going to be disrupted or it won’t be the same as it was. It’s hard to make any of these decisions to the workout regimens if you don’t know the end line and you don’t know the date of when you’re going to start.

"My assumption would be once MLB decides on a start date, they may even push that back ten days or two weeks so these guys can get more reps in. So my concern would be being stale, my timing not being right. But again, in this day and age with technology and the ability to get into facilities, these guys are going to stay ready. As ready as they can besides facing live game action. It’s something no one has an answer for."

Why Shawn Estes believes Joe Panik 'odd man out' on Giants' roster

Why Shawn Estes believes Joe Panik 'odd man out' on Giants' roster

Joe Panik is a former first-round draft pick, an All-Star, a Gold Glove winner, a World Series champion and the author of one of the most memorable plays in San Francisco Giants history.

But in the middle of his sixth season with the Giants, his time with the franchise might be up.

The Giants acquired former All-Star Scooter Gennett and highly-touted prospect Mauricio Dubon before the MLB trade deadline passed on Wednesday, signaling to many that the struggling Panik could be on his way out.

"I think the writing's on the wall, unfortunately for Joe," former Giants pitcher and current analyst Shawn Estes told NBC Sports Bay Area on Wednesday. "It's sad because he was a big part of this club, in the World Series run in 2014. He was a Gold Glover, he hit .300. He's done some really good things in a Giants uniform. It's sad because he's a good dude and a guy you really root for and you want him do well because you'll never forget about the backhand dive up the middle, the starting of the double play in 2014 to help them win their third world championship in five years."

In the Giants' 3-2 win over the Kansas City Royals in Game 7 of the 2014 World Series, Eric Hosmer ripped a ball up the middle with the score tied 2-2 during the bottom of the third inning. Panik dove to his right to make the stop and flipped the ball with his glove to Brandon Crawford. Then, Crawford stepped on second base and threw to first to turn the double play. Initially, Hosmer was called safe, but after a replay review, Hosmer was ruled out.

Instead of runners on first and third with no outs, Panik erased both runners with his incredible play. The Giants would go on to win their third World Series in dramatic fashion, and Panik's play was a instrumental in the team winning its third World Series in five seasons.

But five years removed from that iconic play, Panik is a different player. After hitting 10 homers in both 2016 and 2017, Panik has combined for seven homers between 2018 and 2019. This season, he's slashing just .232/.307/.315 and has fallen into a platoon with 31-year-old Donovan Solano, who didn't play in the majors in 2017 or 2018.

"I think based on what we've seen out of Joe the last few years," Estes said, "the regression and as far as being a consistent batter at the plate, getting it done from a production standpoint and even defenively. Defensively, he's struggled a little bit.

"I don't think we'll see Joe in a Giants uniform maybe on Thursday or Friday depending on when they activate Gennett. I think he's going to be the odd man out. I could be wrong. They could keep an extra infielder and Joe could be around."

[RELATED: What Gennett's arrival means for Panik]

Panik ultimately played in Thursday's game in Philadelphia and went 1-for-4. But the Giants will need to clear a roster spot for Gennett and a move could come as early as Friday. It doesn't make sense for the Giants to keep Panik, Solano and Gennett on the roster.