Results tagged ‘ Darren Ford ’

Upon further review, maybe Ford makes sense

Think about it: The Giants probably are going to struggle to score runs against the Atlanta Braves in the Division Series. Derek Lowe has been outstanding lately and always pitches well against the Giants. Tommy Hanson doesn’t scare me much, but Tim Hudson looked like Orel Hershiser circa 1988 the last time he faced San Francisco.

Ideally, the Giants won’t give up many runs, either. Which (duh) means a lot of low-scoring ballgames. To cope in this environment, the Giants just might need to keep the ultra-speedy Darren Ford on the postseason roster.

Lately, the Giants have relied far too much on homers while struggling to manufacture runs. It’s easy to envision scenarios in which they find themselves tied or trailing by one run late in a game. Then they get a runner on first base with nobody out or one out, putting them in a position where they absolutely have to try to generate a run.

They’ll need to advance that runner into scoring position without giving up an out. They’ll need a stolen base.

They’ll need Ford.

Ford conceivably can do what Dave Roberts did for the Red Sox in 2004 or what Chone Figgins accomplished for the Angels in 2002. It’s easy to regard Ford as a luxury, but under the circumstances, he might actually be a necessity.

Of course, keeping Ford means that a veteran position player such as Edgar Renteria or Aaron Rowand won’t make the Division Series roster. It would be a shame to see either player sidelined. Renteria and Rowand both happen to own World Series rings. Moreover, they’re solid professionals who won’t back down from tough, critical situations. They’d be ideal to have available.

But addressing what probably will be a desperate need for offense of any sort requires some extreme measures. For this reason, don’t be at all surprised if Ford joins San Francisco’s 25-man contingent for the Division Series.

– Chris Haft

Stunning reports in Darren Ford case

Wednesday, July 7

MILWAUKEE — Darren Ford could face big trouble.

According to published reports, the Giants’ center-field prospect was charged in his hometown of Vineland, N.J., with making false reports and a form of theft in connection with his claim in Nov. 2009 that he was robbed of a bank deposit bag belonging to his employer.

The 24-year-old Vineland native turned himself in at police headquarters on the afternoon of July 2. Ford was charged with making false reports to law enforcement, obstruction of the administration of law, conspiracy and theft by failure to make proper disposition of property received.

He was processed and released on a summons.

Last Nov. 18, Ford told police that a black or Hispanic male pointed a double barrel shotgun at him and demanded his belongings at a Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) office. Ford was carrying a deposit bag to a bank for his employer, RK Chevrolet.

He told police he’d given the robber the deposit bag, his cell phone and $300 in cash.

Ford, 24, impressed the Giants with his speed, hustle and diligence during Spring Training, earning himself the Harry S. Jordan Award as the most outstanding first-year invitee to camp. He has spent this season playing at Double-A Ricmond.

Ford’s not guilty of anything yet, but he joins dubious company. Would-be slugger Angel Villalona remains in the Dominican Republic awaiting trail after being charged with murder last November in a barroom shooting.

Schierholtz picks himself up

Monday, March 29
PHOENIX — Don’t assume that Nate Schierholtz will easily give up in the Giants’ right field competition.

Schierholtz, whose status as the likely Opening Day right fielder was eroded by his inability to hit consistently, smacked an RBI triple and a double, drew a walk and scored three runs Monday in the Giants’ 8-6 exhibition victory over Milwaukee. “It was good for Nate to get a few knocks,” said bench coach Ron Wotus, who managed the final three innings after Bruce Bochy left to attend to a personal matter.

Schierholtz also played the entire game in right field, though that wasn’t tremendously significant.

Here’s what was significant: John Bowker, Schierholtz’s apparent chief rival for the job, kept hitting. Bowker hiked his team-leading totals to five home runs and 20 RBIs with a two-run homer in the fifth inning. He also doubled in the first, helping lift his batting average to .308. Schierholtz is at .241, but his superior defensive skill will continue to be a factor.

Bowker has a Minor League option remaining, but he could make the Opening Day roster if Fred Lewis’ ribcage injury lingers and forces him onto the disabled list.

*****

The afternoon’s most entertaining hitter, however, had to be Eugenio Velez.

Velez cranked a long, long, l-o-n-g drive past the right-field foul pole in the first inning off Milwaukee starter Dave Bush. Velez’s clout was ruled foul.

Undaunted, Velez crushed the next pitch to straightaway right field for a legitimate home run. Everybody knows that Velez is capable of spectacular deeds. But this?

“You don’t see that often, do you?” Wotus said. “We were talking about it in the dugout. [Shawon] Dunston said usually when you do that, it takes the air out of you.”

Historical/personal notes: Ed Bailey followed a foul home run with a “real” homer on the next pitch in Game 162 of the 1962 season to open the Giants’ scoring in their 2-1 victory over Houston that put them in a three-game playoff with the Dodgers. Somewhere I have a collection of highlight tapes that includes Willie McCovey performing the foul-fair/back-to-back act in the mid-1960s (I have a feeling he did this more than once).

And I distinctly recall attending a Giants-Padres doubleheader at Candlestick in 1974 or ’75 when Randy Moffitt faced Bobby Tolan with the bases loaded. Tolan yanked one foul into the upper deck before clobbering Moffitt’s next pitch almost as far, and this time fair, for a grand slam en route to another Giants loss.  

*****

To nobody’s surprise, center fielder Darren Ford won this year’s Harry S. Jordan Award in voting by his teammates, the coaches and the athletic training staff.

The award is given to the player in his first Major League camp whose performance and dedication best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit. Past winners include Tim Lincecum (2007), Pedro Feliz (2001) and Russ Ortiz (1998).

Ford, 24, was San Francisco’s sensation of the spring, impressing all observers with his .500 batting average (10-for-20) and sprinter’s speed.

Reassigned to Minor League camp last Friday, Ford is likely to begin the season with Double-A Richmond.

– Chris Haft

Ford, Bowker highlight intrasquad game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Center fielder Darren Ford turned the Giants’ intrasquad game Monday into a one-inning personal showcase.

Widely considered the organization’s fastest player, Ford raced into the right-center field gap to catch Francisco Peguero’s line drive for the game’s first out. Ford then led off the inning’s bottom half by tripling to left-center field. He proceeded to score on Kevin Frandsen’s groundout.

Ford slid into third base, but he easily would have been safe had he gone in standing up. Not too many players possess enough speed to hit standup triples to left or left-center. This 24-year-old does.

“It’s always a blessing to go out there,” said Ford, who seems truly humble. “I was given a gift. I’m just using it any way I can, whether it’s offensively or defensively.”

Ford amassed nine triples (while stealing 35 bases) in 380 at-bats while hitting .300 for Class A San Jose. He acknowledged that he was thinking “third base” once he left the batter’s box. It’s a habit for him.

“I try tio go as far as I can until they stop me,” he said.

After Ford scored, John Bowker belted a drive down the right-field line that somehow stayed fair. It was an impressive home run by Bowker, a left-handed hitter who defied the percentages by victimizing left-handed pitcher Clayton Tanner.

That was it for the scoring as Richmond manager Andy Skeels’ “Armed Forces” defeated “Harper’s Heroes,” led by San Jose manager Brian Harper, 2-0 in three innings. Craig Clark, Tony Pena Jr., Dan Turpen, Craig Whitaker and Rafael Cova each pitched a shutout inning.

– Chris Haft

The Man (Willie Mays) arrives

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Willie Mays’ presence is just as powerful as it was when he stood in the batter’s box.

Baseball’s greatest living player made his first appearance of the spring at San Francisco’s camp Monday and immediately commanded awe upon entering the clubhouse. You simply have to appreciate being in the same room with a genuine legend — particularly one as lively as Mays, who loudly greeted visitors.

Veterans such as Todd Wellemeyer, Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa, who had never seen Mays in the flesh, simply stared at the man. Players who previously had met Mays, such as Aaron Rowand and Kevin Frandsen, gleefully shook hands with him. Now the spring can begin, right?

Two rookies were especially intrepid. Outfielders Darren Ford and Thomas Neal, who hope to achieve a fraction of what Mays did as a Giant from 1951-72, sat for more than an hour with the Hall of Famer, absorbing advice — as well as some good-natured abuse.

Ford is 24 years old and has never played above Class A. Mays unabashedly recited some of the accomplishments he had piled up at the Major League level by the time he reached that age. Ford, perhaps the fastest player in the Giants organization, mentioned that he had won a stolen-base title; Mays reminded everyone within earshot that he led the National League in thefts four years in a row from 1956-59. “Then I quit,” Mays said, meaning that he ceased concentrating on stolen bases and focused more on slugging.

This was a you-had-to-be-there scene. Any comparison between Mays and Ford is certainly unfair. But Mays made all of this sound playful, not mean and condescending. The smile never left Ford’s face. Toward the conclusion of his visit, Neal and Ford had their fielding gloves on, listening to Mays — a 12-time Gold Glove Award winner — share secrets of his defensive excellence.

Roger Angell, one of the finest baseball writers ever, once wrote of Mays, perhaps the best all-around player ever, “The leader is still leading.” That was in a 1971 article. Some 39 years later, it’s still true.

– Chris Haft
 

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