Results tagged ‘ Bruce Bochy ’

Sabean/Bochy outtakes, and a bit more

SAN FRANCISCO — General manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy had much more to say than what appeared in the story on sfgiants.com. Here are the answers to some of the other questions asked by various reporters:

What will you do at second base if you don’t re-sign Freddy Sanchez?
SABEAN: “I’m not sure because we still have to lay eyes on [Emmanuel] Burriss, who’s about to play in the instructional league and then go off to winter ball. That was really unfortunate, the way he got hurt in the minor leagues, and we didn’t get a chance to see him get back up here. So it’ll be something we’ll have to contemplate. Our aim is to try to get something done with Freddy and I expect that probably will happen.”
 
What about the payroll?
SABEAN: “The payroll, I think, I can characterize two ways. It’s not going to change all that much per se. Some of the models we’ve done obviously reflect what’s going to happen in arbitration with [Tim] Lincecum and [Brian] Wilson, and even [Jonathan] Sanchez. With Freddy’s situation, being the second base spot, the number’s been folded in there. What I’m confident is the dealings we’ve had with Bill [Neukom] the last two years is, no matter what number gets set, if we have something compelling baseball-wise to bring to him, he certainly will consider it and take it through the proper channels. I think we’ll have the latitude to see what we can recommend. Now how it presents itself or how involved we can or will be to follow through with that, there’s no telling. It’s not a very attractive free-agent market in my mind. You guys have got a list yourselves.”

Would you be willing to pursue a hitter who’s defensively challenged, or do you plan to uphold the team’s defensive standards, no ifs, ands or buts?
SABEAN: “I think there are exceptions to the rule, and we’re willing to visit that. … Really, to speak to some of the questions about our style of play or how we were going to go about it offensively, the one thing that didn’t happen was, collectively as a group, we just couldn’t get marginally better. … In some ways, we might have gotten caught in between. We were waiting for guys to hit three-run homers. We were waiting for guys to hit a double with the bases loaded. The more we found out we couldn’t do that, later in the year, we decided that we were going to have to do some other things — bunting guys over or running a little bit more. … I’ll say this: between Boch and the coaching staff, everybody got their chance. Everybody got their chance to play, stay in the lineup or, more so, get rotated back in when it didn’t work out for somebody else.”

Brian, you mentioned you’d like to get a contract done with Freddy Sanchez. How do you see second baseman-outfielder Eugenio Velez fitting in?
SABEAN: “I think it’ll take some discussion. If you’re asking me personally, he probably is a little bit more comfortable as an outfielder. He probably plays a little bit more relaxed. Having said that, he really has come a long ways as a defensive player, both as a second baseman and as an outfielder. It kind of goes to what can make it easier on the manager. Let’s say if Velez and [Andres] Torres are the leadoff component, it’s probably better-suited [for him] to be in the outfield. That’s not to say that he would never play second base. But I think we would look at it that way.”

Q: This team reminds me of the ’86 Giants — young nucleus, playing with passion, finishing a strong third, and the next year Al Rosen and Roger Craig engineered a division winner. Is that the stated aim going into spring training next year?
BOCHY: “Sure it is. It’s getting back to what I talked about. The team has gotten into a win mode now. We reached up and grabbed a pretty good bar this year. Now we want to reach up and grab the next bar. Sure, more will be expected out of us. I’d rather have it that way. I expect more out of us and I know these players feel the same. As we go into Spring Training, we’re going to go in with a lot of confidence and try to finish the job.”

Brian, what does it mean to you to be the longest-tenured general manager?
SABEAN: “Pretty amazing. I don’t feel particularly good about a colleague of mine like Kevin Towers being let go the way he was, but that’s the business. There are only 30 of these jobs. I’ve always tried to treat the position with the utmost respect and be humble going about it. To think that we’ve been here this long as a group is pretty amazing and I’m thankful. I don’t ever think about how long I want to do this or how long I have done it, but it’s been a good run. We’ve had ups and downs, buts an organization, I think that the Giants have a lot to be pleased with, not only from our past but especially as we’re talking about going into the future.”

What about your reputation for having an attachment to bringing in older players?
SABEAN: “We don’t sit here as general managers making unilateral decisions. At the end of the day, do you have to make the final final? Yes. But the manager and those involved, including ownership, pretty much know what you’re trying to do and who you’re trying to bring in. I’m not going to speak to track record. You guys keep score; we keep score; what I can say is that a lot of times it doesn’t come down to just dollars and cents as to how you got somebody or brought somebody in or more so what they do for the club.

“And I’ll mention this, not in any way of being defensive, but the [Edgar] Renteria situation: We made a management decision on all levels that we needed a veteran shortstop. Looking back, the choice internally would have been somebody like [Emmanuel] Burriss, which as we all know sitting here today, wouldn’t have been the right thing to do. Secondarily, no matter what the contract threshold ended up being, if you talk to Tony LaRussa, if you talk to Bobby Cox, if you talk to anybody around baseball who’s had this type of player and you listen to how Boch witnessed what he was able to do on and off the field, including or especially just with somebody like Pablo, who he took under his wing in Spring Training and carried that out through the season and let alone how he went out there most days not at 100 percent, probably 75 percent. What we’ve tried to do is bring guys in here, no matter what the contract was like, or really, how it turned out against the contract, that could make a difference. Have we made mistakes? Yes. But in our keeping score, we’ve made a lot of good decisions, too.”

BOCHY: “I think a lot of us …get labeled that you like or prefer veteran players. There’s no getting around it. Sure, there’s a little sense of security or confidence with a veteran player. But … I like young players. I love the energy from Pablo Sandoval, what he brings. Velez. You need those kind of players. But you also need guys like a Renteria or Uribe and what they do. And again, not just on the field but in the clubhouse. It’s great to have a nice blend of these guys and I thought we had that this year.”

Have you had talks about a contract extension with Tim Lincecum?
SABEAN: “No … And it’s really not appropriate yet. The first thing we’re doing is deciding, because of the number of [salary arbitration] cases we have, how we’re going to prioritize getting ready for them, who’s actually going to handle them. And really, to tell you the truth, there’s leverage involved … [Lincecum's contract] is a complicated one. It’s one I have not been through. Nor will many people in baseball go through. You’re going to have the union, on their side, very much interested to see how this turns out, and Major League Baseball is going to have an eye and ear [on] this as to where it could go on a one-year deal. And maybe, until you establish what that threshold is, how do you get to the next level, which is a multiyear contract? The other thing that’s very confusing is, it’s almost impossible now to insure contracts. Or insure a contract like Timmy’s. Timmy has nothing wrong with him.”

What are you expecting from now until next season with Pablo Sandoval to see him improve more?
SABEAN: [Mentioning plans to meet with Sandoval later Monday or Tuesday] “He’s been asked to make a trip with some kind of All-Star team from Major League Baseball to Korea. I think that’s a two-week trip. I don’t know whether he’s going to accept that.”Secondarily, he has somewhat of a commitment — a countryman’s commitment, let’s say — with winter ball [for Magallanes in Venezuela]. I’ve heard somewhere in the range of wanting to play for three weeks.

“But lastly, he understands that we have to do some more things to get him in better shape not only coming into Spring Training, but as the season goes along [Sandoval will spend most of November at the Giants' training facility in Scottsdale, Ariz., to work on conditioning and proper nutrition]. And as we know, that’s only going to prolong his career, and he understands that. We just have to figure out the place, the time frame and the cooperation. Because some of it is a change in lifestyle. But he’s saying the right things and he does believe that he needs to make some changes. He’s not the only guy on the ballclub who will go to [a conditioning program].”

What about Tim Lincecum’s strengthening program?
SABEAN: “It’s a slippery slope with him because this guy’s an amazing athlete as is. Last year because of the Cy Young, he was on the circuit pretty good and probably started a little too late calendar-wise and that’s one of the reasons he was taxed in Spring Training and not in an optimal space to start the season. He understands that. As far as I know, he’s staying in the Bay Area this offseason, which will help us with him.”

Are you OK with Sandoval playing winter ball?
SABEAN: “If it’s for a short period of time. [He's] very popular. He’s still a young player. He has a chance to earn some money in doing so. I don’t say there’s a lot of pressure on him, but we have to pay respect to that. That’s what he grew up around. He was very popular there last year. And it’s good for Major League Baseball. But the time lost down there, if he does go, and I don’t know what that time frame’s going to be, might cut into the calendar that we want for him. That’s why we have to sit down and go through each week, each month.”

Do you anticipate not tendering contracts to Justin Miller, Brandon Medders or Ryan Garko, all of whom are arbitration-eligible?
SABEAN: “For the first time, we have more eligible players than I can remember. Secondarily, it comes down to roster manipulation or machinations where we’re going to need spots to add folks from our minor leagues. And we’re also going to want to have spots available in case of signing a free agent or making a trade. so each one of them is going to have to be visited to see what … the value of that spot is. Not only the 40-man roster, but how we predict the 25-man roster could be crafted.”

[Sabean concluded by saluting the pitching staff]
“We’ve got some guys who are tough SOBs. And I think that [Randy] Johnson really helped with that mindset. [Brad] Penny coming in with his bravado. And in some ways, I’m not so sure our whole team didn’t take on that type of personality. These guys wanted to win every inning and every game … and in some ways, took the pressure off what we couldn’t do offensively. There weren’t many position players that would dare half-step that type of group. It’s tough to find a pitching staff not only that good, but that competitive — that competitive among themselves and more so as you went into the game. That’s one of the reasons I think we won as many games as we did. The opposition knew that [he pounded the table for emphasis], our team knew that and they all deserve so much credit. Because they all talk different, they all have different styles, they all act different, but individually and collectively, this was a tough-minded group of people.”

*****

Three Giants underwent minor surgery Monday. Right-hander Justin Miller had arthroscopic surgery to have loose bodies removed from his throwing elbow; infielder Rich Aurilia experienced a similar procedure; and right-hander Brandon Medders had a torn meniscus in his left knee repaired.

– Chris Haft

Molina fine with move to fifth

SAN FRANCISCO — Did you notice the subtle difference in the Giants’ batting order Monday? Bengie Molina batted fifth in the series opener against the Colorado Rockies — marking the first time that he hadn’t hit cleanup since the 2007 season. Pablo Sandoval replaced Molina in the four-hole.

Manager Bruce Bochy explained that he hoped to re-create the magic of Sunday, when San Francisco lashed 15 hits and defeated the Dodgers, 7-2. As Molina rested, Sandoval went 2-for-4 from the fourth spot. In fact, each of San Francisco’s collected multiple hits and combined to go 10-for-17 with five RBIs.

“I like the way it went yesterday,” Bochy said before Monday’s game. “It’s not a lot of tweaking, but we put some runs on the board.”

Molina, who hit mostly sixth in 2007 before replacing Barry Bonds at cleanup, accepted the move unblinkingly.

“I always respect what Bochy has to do,” Molina said.

Molina said that Bochy didn’t consult him before making the move but noted, “He doesn’t have to. He’s the manager; [Brian] Sabean’s the general manager. They’re the ones who make the decisions.”

Many critics have charged that Molina isn’t a prototypical cleanup hitter. But he has been extremely productive, at least by the club’s standards. He amassed a career-high 95 RBIs last year and entered Monday ranked second on the club in homers (17) and RBIs (70). “I’ve got nothing to be ashamed of,” Molina said. “I probably did much more than they expected.”

– Chris Haft

Giants go ‘fourth’ with Torres

SAN FRANCISCO — More than once in his postgame address Sunday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy expressed appreciation for Andres Torres’ bases-loaded walk in the sixth inning off Jeff Weaver that drove in San Francisco’s fourth run of the game.

“We had trouble getting that fourth run. That was frustration,” Bochy said, practically equating “fourth run” with “Holy Grail.” Added Bochy, “That’s why it was so important Torres drew that walk.”

Why did Bochy heap what might have seemed to be disproportionate praise upon Torres? It’s simple.

The Giants own a 54-14 record when they score four runs or more. With their excellent pitching, that number usually gives them enough offense to win. That’s why Torres’ RBI loomed as significant.

It also paved the way for Freddy Sanchez’s two-run single, which was the biggest hit in the four-run uprising.

Torres’ statistics aren’t spectacular (.250 in 59 games), but he has made contributions like this all season. And, for what it’s worth, his attitude is ceaselessly positive and he’s one heck of a nice guy. It’ll be interesting to see whether the Giants bring him back for 2010. He’s a pretty useful player to bring off the bench.

– Chris Haft 

Bochy ‘fesses up on Penny hijinks; Velez glows

PHILADELPHIA — Now the story can be told. When Bruce Bochy managed the Padres and Brad Penny pitched against them as a visitor with Florida and the Dodgers, the velocity readings at the ballpark were about 5 mph slower than they should have been.

That’s because Bochy, knowing that Penny habitually checked the speed of his deliveries after every pitch, tried to mess with the right-hander’s head by ordering the velocity gurus to slow down his readings by 5 mph.

Penny casually mentioned this after throwing his eight shutout innings Wednesday night, and Bochy confessed to this crime Thursday.

Trouble was, Penny’s speed-run readings were still impressive. “I’d see ’94,’ ” Bochy said. When he reminded the crew to subtract 5 mph from the speed readings, the reply came, “We are.”

*****

Despite the Giants’ 2-1 loss Thursday, Eugenio Velez couldn’t resist a smile when he was asked to discuss his home run off his Dominican countryman, Pedro Martinez.

“Man, that’s my favorite pitcher,” Velez said. “I feel so excited because that’s the best pitcher I’ve faced.”

Velez jumped on the game’s first pitch, a fastball. He explained that this was the wisest approach to take against Martinez.

“With a pitcher like him, you have to be aggressive, always,” Velez said. “You’re going to see only one pitch [to hit], and then he’s going to make his pitch.”

*****

Bengie Molina, who returned to the starting lineup Thursday after an eight-game absence due to a tight right quadriceps, met with Bochy after Wednesday night’s game. Shockingly, they didn’t invite reporters to join them. But Bochy revealed that the talk was constructive and mostly involved Molina’s physical state. The chat apparently wasn’t dominated by Molina’s concerns about management’s plans for him in light of Buster Posey’s promotion, as was reported.

“We talked about [Molina's] start today and we’ll give him more time [off] if he wants,” Bochy said. “He wants to do all he can to help contribute to the cause here.”

*****

Asked what he thought the ideal scenario for Posey’s Major League debut would be, Bochy said, “I think it would be a start, to help him in his preparation.” That’s not likely, though, as long as Molina stays healthy and the Giants remain in contention.

– Chris Haft 

Promising health update for Molina

SAN FRANCISCO — This isn’t extremely detailed, but manager Bruce Bochy said after Thursday night’s 11-0 loss to Arizona that the MRI of catcher Bengie Molina’s right quadriceps revealed a “mild strain.”

The strain was known. The “mild” part was a little less certain.

So, Bochy said, “I think we got some pretty good news there.”

– Chris Haft

Aurilia ready to play but remains on DL

SAN FRANCISCO — Infielder Rich Aurilia was eligible to be activated from the 15-day disabled list Thursday. He remained in limbo instead.

“I think he’s physically ready,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Aurilia, who had tendinitis in his left ankle. “We just don’t have a move to make right now.”

In other words, the Giants would rather have rookie Ryan Rohlinger on their 25-man roster than Aurilia, who has a wealth of experience and, despite his .220 batting average, remains more than capable of battling the best of pitchers, particularly during the late innings.

So Aurilia must wait until roster limits expand to 40 next Tuesday to be activated. Wisely, he remained mostly mum regarding Thursday’s non-events.

“I don’t make those decisions,” he said. “I’m healthy and ready to play.”

– Chris Haft

Tight quad sidelines Molina again; picture Torres

SAN FRANCISCO — Catcher Bengie Molina was out of the lineup for the second game in a row with tightness in his quadriceps. Eli Whiteside replaced Molina, the Giants’ cleanup hitter who’s batting .261 with 15 home runs and 64 RBIs.

Manager Bruce Bochy sounded optimistic that Molina would return soon. But he didn’t want to rush the veteran. “Let’s get that thing healthy,” Bochy said, referring to Molina’s injury.

Third baseman Pablo Sandoval (strained right calf) also began his second consecutive game on the bench, though he remained available to pinch-hit, as he did Tuesday night.

The Giants want both Molina and Sandoval at full strength by Friday, when they begin their critical three-game rematch against the Colorado Rockies.

*****

The Giants posed for their team picture Wednesday, and it was too bad that outfielder Andres Torres wasn’t around. Torres is playing in Arizona as he recovers from a hamstring injury.

Torres hustled his way onto the Opening Day roster and was instrumental in a couple of victories earlier this season. The team photo simply wouldn’t be complete without him.

– Chris Haft

 

All hope is not lost, but …

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants’ season and their playoff push are far from over. But after their 6-4, 14-inning loss Monday at Colorado, anybody feeling less than hopeful is excused.

In 40 years of following this team, this is among the most crushing come-from-ahead defeats I’ve witnessed (albeit on TV; I wasn’t on assignment for the Rockies series). Granted, the Giants are well-positioned to shrug off the effects of this setback and losing three of four to the Rockies, who lead them by four games in the National League Wild Card standings. If the Giants can recover against Arizona while Colorado struggles against the Dodgers in the next few days, San Francisco will be poised to regain ground when the Rockies visit AT&T Park next weekend.

After all, it’s not even September yet.

But for now, the Giants are reeling.

The bullpen that has sustained the Giants so well this season is in rough shape. Most relievers are suddenly overworked. Those who aren’t no longer inspire confidence, such as Merkin Valdez. If the Giants put second baseman Freddy Sanchez on the disabled list, it wouldn’t be a surprise to see them fill his spot on the 25-man roster with a reliever, though lacking a full complement of position players handcuffed manager Bruce Bochy somewhat in the 14-inning marathon.

The Giants’ plight will be worsened if third baseman Pablo Sandoval is out for more than a few days with his calf injury.

Tuesday’s pregame hours could be intriguing as the Giants evaluate the fitness of Sandoval and their bullpen.

– Chris Haft

Lewis is a lucky charm; contemplating Bill Hall

CINCINNATI — Fred Lewis will take the Giants’ lineup to home plate for the umpires before Wednesday night’s game against the Cincinnati Reds.

That’s because he did it before Tuesday’s game, which the Giants won. And before Monday’s game, which the Giants won. Baseball folks are superstitious that way.

Typically, bench coach Ron Wotus does the honors. But the Giants will ride Lewis’ luck as long as they can. Besides, Bochy and Wotus pretty much know each ballpark’s ground rules. They can adjust to Lewis’ interpretation.

“We had to talk to him for a while to get them all figured out, but he was pretty close on them,” Bochy said jokingly.

*****

The Milwaukee Brewers have until Friday to try to engineer a trade for utility man Bill Hall, who they designated for assignment last week. I heard third-hand that the Giants might be among the interested teams. Now, I’ll readily admit that “third-hand” is a pretty flimsy source. Except that this particular source often knows what he’s talking about.

Still, it’s difficult to figure out why the Giants would need Hall. They’ve already got Juan Uribe as an infield handyman, and though they could use a spare right-handed-hitting outfield, it’s not a crying need. I’m guessing nothing will happen, though I’ve been wrong a few million times before.

*****

FYI: Catcher Buster Posey, who needed a few days off to nurse a minor injury, returned to Triple-A Fresno’s lineup Tuesday and went 2-for-5 with an RBI single and a run scored. 

– Chris Haft

Zito’s a harsh self-critic; Wilson loves the challenge

SAN FRANCISCO — Barry Zito received a warm ovation from the AT&T Park fans upon leaving Saturday’s game once he walked Wladimir Balantien to open the seventh inning. But while Zito might have impressed observers, he sounded anything but impressed with himself.

Zito called his outing “a grind,” though his statistical line might suggest that he cruised through Cincinnati’s lineup in the Giants’ 4-2 victory. The left-hander allowed both Reds runs and only three hits in six innings. Zito, who’s 3-1 with a 2.32 ERA in five starts since the All-Star break, has walked nine and struck out 25 in 31 innings in that span.

Zito meant that his results didn’t come easily. Manager Bruce Bochy, of course, was thrilled that Zito delivered, extra effort or no extra effort. Bochy pointed out that Zito has been the Giants’ “tough-luck pitcher” this year, having entered Saturday’s start with the Major Leagues’ lowest run support.

“I think he’s throwing the ball better than his record indicates,” Bochy said. “He has been exceptional this last month. He’s throwing strikes and pitching with a lot of confidence right now.”

Zito has won three consecutive decisions for the first time since May 23-June 4, 2007, his first couple of months as a Giant.

*****

A temporarily overlooked element of Brian Wilson’s blown save and loss Friday night was the simple fact that Bochy summoned him with the bases loaded and one out in the EIGHTH inning. Though Wilson has converted a National League-high seven saves of more than one inning, each of those was a 1 1/3-inning stint. Had he saved Friday’s game, his 1 2/3-inning outing would have been his longest of the season in a save opportunity. He pitched 2 1/3 innings in a 10-inning victory April 22 against San Diego and two innings July 17 in a 14-inning loss at Pittsburgh. Both were scoreless performances.

Second-guessing managers for using their closer for more than one inning is a favorite fan pastime. But Bochy hasn’t hesitated to insert Wilson in the eighth inning, and he won’t hesitate to do so again in the future.

“The game’s on the line,” Bochy said. “That’s where you want your closer.”

Speaking after he recorded his 28th save of the season in Saturday’s victory, Wilson said that entering games in the eighth inning is OK with him.

“They obviously have confidence in me to come in and shut the door,” Wilson said. “I’m not going to complain about that, because what’s the team going to think about a guy who complains about pitching? I play this game for the love of it. Any chance I get to pitch is a good chance.”

In a remark that bordered on a Yogi Berra-ism, Wilson added, “If you’re going to come in the ninth, you might as well come in the eighth, too.”

– Chris Haft

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