Monday, March 30, 2015

No pain for Cain

Tracy Ringolsby of (the guy with the massive cowboy hat) puts together a nice column saying Matt is back....

Cain is showing signs of being ready to go, and he has the track record that says if he's healthy, he's one of the game's elite. Yes, he had the bone chips, but he did just turn 30 last October. And from 2009-12, Cain put together a resume where San Francisco was 79-52 when he started, and Cain was 55-35 with a 2.93 ERA, working more than 200 innings each season and making three All-Star appearances.
That's why Sunday was such a relief for the Giants.
"He's real close," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's not feeling anything."
It's what Bochy was thinking after taking time the other afternoon to go to the Minor League complex and watch Cain throw five innings, which "convinced me he was over the hump. He was not hesitant to throw every pitch. He went [to the mound] five times and felt fine the next day. He's not as sharp as he's going to be. He's a little behind, but he's coming on."
Scouts had Cain's four-seam fastball at 91 to 93 mph and his two-seam fastball at 89 and 90. Nobody saw any kinks in the arm action.
"The fastball command wasn't that great, but the breaking ball and changeup had bite on them," Cain said.
And Cain never had a grimace on his face.
"I was definitely wondering," he admitted about a possible ache or pain. "I've never been through this. I have to learn on the run. I just let the trainers to do their job. They weren't worried about things. The big thing was to calm down and get over that hump."

Bobby Bragan and baseball history

Joe Posnaski has a nice piece about the Dodger backup catcher in 1947; long but well worth the time...

“If Jackie Robinson can play the position better than another player,” Rickey said after summoning Bragan, “then regardless of the color of his skin Jackie Robinson is going to play. You understand that Bobby?”
“Yes sir,” Bragan said.
“And how do you feel about this?”
“If it’s all the same with you, Mr. Rickey, I’d like to be traded to another team,” Bragan said.
And then, Bragan would remember, Branch Rickey leaned back. Maybe he puffed on his cigar. Maybe he didn’t. He asked Bobby Bragan a question.
“If we call Jackie Robinson up,” Rickey asked, “will you change the way you play for me?”
And here, at last, Bobby Bragan was forced to confront what kind of man he was.
“No sir,” Bragan said. “I’d still play my best.”

Sunday, March 29, 2015

Bumgarner strikes out 11

OK, it was against the A's minor leaguers but still. Andrew Baggarly of the Merc-News was there...

Madison Bumgarner drove his very large truck down to minor league camp Friday afternoon and built his pitch count against Oakland's Triple-A lineup. It wasn't an especially fair fight.
He threw six innings, allowed two hits, hit two batters, walked another and struck out 11. It looked even more dominant than the line would suggest.
"I felt dang good about it," said Bumgarner, who wore a look of delight when he saw that a couple of beat reporters were waiting to talk to him. "I didn't know you'd be here. Thanks for coming and watching."
Bumgarner might be 0-3 with a 5.65 ERA in Cactus League games, with three home runs allowed in 141/3 innings. But those stats are deceptive, too. Bumgarner maintained from the first interview he gave at FanFest in February that he'd feel no aftereffects of throwing 270 innings between the regular season and postseason, the heaviest workload by a Giant in 41 years....

Regardless of the opponent, it had to be reassuring for Giants officials to see their ace throwing so crisply -- especially since the rest of the rotation sets up to be a bunch of scramblers. Jake Peavy (6.75 ERA), Tim Lincecum (6.92), Matt Cain (9.82), Ryan Vogelsong (7.41) and Yusmeiro Petit (5.19) have struggled to work clean innings this spring. Tim Hudson (3.00) also has acknowledged benefiting from some hard outs and/or getting away with too many mistakes.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he expects all seven "starting" pitchers to be on the opening day roster and he plans to set the rotation in a few days. Barring a change or injury, it's expected to be Peavy, Cain, Hudson and Lincecum rounding out the starting five, with Vogelsong and Petit in long relief.

Friday, March 27, 2015

Lincecum strikes out 7

Holy cow

The Giants are an MLB-worst 6-19 in spring training right now. But Timmy had seven strikeouts tonight against the A's in a 6-4 loss. So there's something to like.

 "It comes down to one or two pitches per inning. I just have to keep my pitches down. The ones that they're hitting are the ones that are up. Leadoff batters are locking in to some of the first pitches." -- Lincecum, on why he has alternated bad innings with good ones

Chris Haft of reports that the Dodgers won't get to see Bumgarner tomorrow night --

 For the Giants: San Francisco will borrow right-hander Chris Heston, who already has been optioned to Triple-A Sacramento, from Minor League camp to confront the Dodgers in a 7:05 p.m. PT contest at Glendale. The game can be seen on MLB.TV and is also available as an exclusive audio webcast on It's Madison Bumgarner's turn to pitch, but the Giants opted to use the Opening Night starter in a Minor League game to limit the Dodgers' familiarity with him. After all, Bumgarner conceivably will face Los Angeles quite frequently this year.

Monday, March 23, 2015

RIP Nick Peters

He covered the Giants between 1961 and 2007. Marcos Breton writes a nice obit for the Sacramento Bee, where Nick worked for 20 years.

Peters was present at every Giants Opening Day in San Francisco, the first in 1958 until more recently, when illness kept him from AT&T Park. He covered the Giants from the prime of Willie Mays until the final days of Barry Bonds’ career. He covered the Giants from the era of manual typewriters to the era of wireless laptops, which Peters was known to curse from time to time while on deadline.
“We used to tease Nick about his longevity by asking, ‘Was Babe Ruth a good quote?’” said Dan Brown, a San Jose Mercury News sportswriter and longtime friend of Peters. “But in truth, that wisdom was irreplaceable. ... The thing that amazed me about Nick was how much the (Giants) greats respected him – Mays, (Willie) McCovey, (Juan) Marichal.”
Peters earned that respect by being a straight shooter. He never sugarcoated how the Giants were playing, which was often quite dismal during the 1970s and ’80s. But Peters always respected the game and the men who devoted their lives to it.

Read more here:

"I feel close"

It sounds like things are OK for the ace. 

That quote is Madison Bumgarner describing how he felt yesterday -- he gave up a homer to Albert Pujols and that was it. 

Here's the story --

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Madison Bumgarner says there's still some work to be done in his final Spring Training starts, but if Sunday was any indication, he appears to be ready for Opening Day.
"I feel close," Bumgarner said when asked if he's ready for Opening Day. "I won't start honing in on that start until after my last Spring Training start."

The Giants' ace may feel close, but he sure looks like he's already there.
Bumgarner was dominant Sunday as he limited the Angels to just one hit--- an Albert Pujols solo home run -- over six innings in a 3-2 Halos win.
"Everything's felt really good the last few times out," Bumgarner said. "All pitches are feeling good. I feel like my secondary pitches are better than they usually are at this point in time. I feel pretty good."
The 25-year old left-hander retired 18 of the 19 batters he faced, including 16 straight to finish his outing.
However, it's only March 22, and Bumgarner isn't focused on the results just yet.
"It's just about getting ready for the 2015 season," Bumgarner said. "It's not about how good you are or how bad you are in Spring Training. It's just about getting ready."

Thursday, March 19, 2015

Here we go!

This is the kind of game the Giants excel at -- a 3-2 vic. Best start of the spring by any Giants starter. Belt's third homer.

Here's the top of the story from -- 

PHOENIX -- Joe Panik and Brandon Belt homered for the Giants, and Ryan Braun snapped a spring slump for the Brewers in San Francisco's 3-2 victory Thursday at sold-out Maryvale Baseball Park.
Giants right-hander Sergio Romo notched a save, working out of a two-on, no-out situation in the ninth inning.

An appreciation of Gregor Blanco

He shouldn't be starting but he's started a LOT in the last 3 years. John Shea's story indicates he'll probably be the right field starter til Pence gets back....

Blanco has played between 141 and 146 games each of his three years as a Giant. In left, 189 games. Center, 178. Right, 56 (thank you, Mr. Pence). One error. No trips to the disabled list.
“The thing that stands out for me is the versatility, the ability to play all three positions at such a high level,” Posey said. “He’s always ready. Whether he’s playing or not, he’s ready to go. Great attitude, always. Obviously a big part of the success we’ve had.”
Manager Bruce Bochy said after Pence got hurt that newcomer Nori Aoki would get first crack at right field but said this week the team is discussing playing Aoki in left, meaning Blanco would be the top choice in right, where the adventures and misadventures of the Great Wall of China Basin are hardly routine.
Of all the outfielders in camp, Blanco would be trusted the most to defend Pence’s position. He’d have Matt Cain’s vote. Right field is where Blanco played when making his famous diving catch to preserve Cain’s perfect game in June 2012.

Tuesday, March 17, 2015

Romo on being a Giant

He's forever the guy who ended the 2012 World Series. Romo talks to the SF Chron about how much he disliked being a free agent...

Initially, the Giants pursued big-ticket items Pablo Sandoval and Jon Lester, offering a combined $245 million. Each went in different directions, as did the Giants. Only then did they focus on Romo, making him their first free-agent signing Dec. 22, beginning a domino effect of securing players who would be cheaper but have plenty of experience.
They brought back two more old friends, Jake Peavy and Ryan Vogelsong, along with newcomers Nori Aoki and Casey McGehee.
“I had no idea what free agency would be like,” Romo said. “I was told by a few guys free agency’s good to you. You get a chance to choose where to play. It could be a good thing. It could be fun.”
“That dead time, it's hard to get by that because, hey, we can get this done in five minutes, for real, if they call me,” said Romo, who claimed to have seriously considered only one team. “From the beginning, this is where I wanted to be.”

Friday, March 13, 2015

Bumgarner got the last six batters he faced

That's the latest from Arizona per Chris Haft of

It's so difficult to tell what's going on at spring trainning but Haft does a decent job here --

  In case you haven't noticed by now, Madison Bumgarner holds himself to a high standard.
Evaluating his repertoire of deliveries after his 2 2/3-inning effort in the Giants' 7-4 Cactus League victory Thursday over the Chicago White Sox, Bumgarner was harshest on his curveball.
"It's not quite there yet," he said. "That's one I'd like to have that coming a little better. It's not far off. It's better than it's ever been this early."
Then Bumgarner demonstrated the drive for excellence that separates him from many athletes. When a reporter mentioned that breaking pitches are tougher to command in Arizona's dry air, the Giants' 2014 postseason hero pointed out that he must pitch here and in Colorado under similar conditions during the regular season.
"I feel you can still throw it here just as good," he said. "You just have to be perfect with it. You can't be off at all."
Bumgarner was a little off in the first inning, when Alexei Ramirez stroked a two-run single. But only one run was earned, and Bumgarner retired the final six batters he faced. "Everything felt really, really good today," said the left-hander, who's scheduled to start the Giants' April 6 regular-season opener at Arizona.
Though Bumgarner might have hoped for a longer outing, he sounded satisfied with being able to "get up" from the dugout to the mound for a third time.
"That was important," said Bumgarner, who trimmed his spring ERA from 14.73 to 9.95.

Sunday, March 08, 2015

Timmy strikes out 5

That's the best news out of Arizona today, per Chris Haft of

Lincecum, who's projected to occupy a spot in the back end of San Francisco's starting rotation, struck out five in two innings. He also yielded two runs and two hits.

 Brandon Belt's third-inning double off Matt Wisler accounted for the Giants' first run. Wisler, San Diego's top pitching prospect, struck out three in two inning

Friday, March 06, 2015

The annnoying Cubs

One of the young Cub pitchers named Cory Black broke Hunter Pence's arm -- he'll be out for 6 to 8 weeks. 

I can't stand the Cubs. There's nothing lovable about them.

From the story -- 

Pence played in all 162 games in each of the past two seasons and hit .277 with 20 home runs and 74 RBIs in 2014.
The outfielder has played in 383 consecutive games, the longest active streak in baseball. It appears that streak will come to an end on Opening Day.

Wednesday, March 04, 2015

Left fielder Travis Ishikawa

Mind-boggling, I say.

He started 3 times in left field during the regular season and 14 times in the postseason. Whoa!

He went 5 for 13 and drove in 7 runs in the NLCS!

Ari Kaye of reports -- 
During the postseason run, Ishikawa said he received a lot of on-the-fly positioning instructions from first-base coach Roberto Kelly and center fielder Gregor Blanco. Blanco also gave Ishikawa advice on how to mentally prepare to play the outfield.
"I was trying to calm him down," Blanco said. "The first thing I told him was just to have fun. Everybody knows you're not an outfielder so don't try to do better or worse, just try to do what you can do."

Sunday, March 01, 2015

RIP Minnie Minoso

One of the great stars of the 1950s and a much-admired pioneer in integrating MLB. He was the first black player for the Chisox. 

The Chicago Trib obit mentions that he had  finished 4th in the MVP voting 4 times and had a WAR of 8.3 in 1954. 

He had a career WAR over 50 despite getting to play regularly until he was 25. He never played in the postseason.

"Cain looked sharp"

That's the word out of Arizona from Chris Haft at

He's been so reliable for so long except for last season --

 Emphasizing that nothing is physically wrong with Matt Cain, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday that the right-hander won't appear in a Cactus League exhibition game until sometime between March 10-14, enabling him to work more extensively on his recovery from surgeries.
Bochy still expected Cain, who had bone spurs and chips removed from his right elbow and ankle during the offseason, to be ready to start a game in "the first go-round" -- during San Francisco's opening five regular season contests. Cain looked sharp in his first two throwing sessions off a bullpen mound and is expected to pitch live batting practice Sunday.
"There has been no setback," said Bochy, explaining that Cain will accomplish more by working a little longer under the supervision of head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner instead of limiting himself solely to pitching.