Entries in Giants (215)


More odd-year agony for the Giants

By Art Spander

It’s an odd year, isn’t it? We should stop there, when it comes to the San Francisco Giants. It isn’t so much that in even years, at least three of them, everything goes right and the Giants win World Series.

It’s that in odd years too much goes wrong.

Buster Posey was run over at home plate in May 2011; he missed the rest of the season. Hunter Pence’s arm was broken by a pitch in spring training 2015; he never was completely healthy throughout the year.

And now, Posey again, in 2017. Hit by a pitch two days ago, the first home game of the season. Put on the disabled list with a concussion.

Odd years aren’t a jinx, they’re a curse. For the Giants, there’s nothing odd about the odd years, there’s something evil. Already they’re in a hole. And they had Buster.

A terrible opening week, losing every game except one. Now they lose Buster, who’s drilled in the head.

The Giants will take no chances with Posey, their main man, their cleanup hitter, their star. Nor should they. After Posey was run over at the plate in 2011, Major League Baseball changed a rule, providing catchers more protection. But that’s on defense.

In the National League, everyone comes to bat, and even wearing a helmet is vulnerable. Posey was unable to duck a Taijuan Walker fastball.

A pitcher’s job is to keep a hitter off balance, to instill fear. He throws inside, usually without any repercussion — or concussion. This inside pitch at 94 mph couldn’t be escaped.

“The fact he is a catcher, taking shots, it doesn’t take a lot,” said Bruce Bochy, the Giants manager, of being properly wary about bringing Posey back too soon.

Bochy knows. He was a catcher. We all know. The year Bochy took control of the Giants, 2007, their catcher the previous season, Mike Matheny, retired because of concussion symptoms, headaches and dizziness. That was a decade ago. Now Matheny is manager of the St. Louis Cardinals.

"This is not a shoulder, a knee or an elbow,” Matheny explained on making the decision to quit playing.

"We're talking about the brain. ... I didn't expect this. I don't think anybody did."

Ten years later we have learned so much more, from studies of NFL players and athletes in other contact sports. Talking about the brain? All those stories of chronic traumatic encephalopathy. Catchers are jarred by foul tips off their mask, dangerous for a man recovering from a head injury.

“You get hit in the head,” said Bochy, “it doesn’t take a lot.”

So Posey is out a week. At least. Are the Giants so quickly out of contention?

“I think we’re better able to withstand this short-term,” said Bobby Evans, the Giants' general manager. “We’re going to exercise caution.”

Nothing is more important than a person’s health. Whether it’s Buster Posey, an MVP, or a lesser player, the responsibility is to the individual. The Giants, a caring organization, will err on the safe side.

“I don’t anticipate it being a long time,” Posey said. “That’s based on how I feel.”

Also how the medical people feel. Football players, in the vernacular, would talk about “having their bell rung.” Trainers would show a hand and ask how many fingers were being held up. A correct answer would get the player back into the game.

Then two days later, the man would complain about headaches, about reacting slowly. Now the majority of sports have developed what is called concussion protocol, applied before an athlete can be cleared.

“Obviously,” Posey admitted, “we’ve seen some guys with lingering effects. Again, I feel pretty good.”

Pretty good, however, isn’t good enough.

“I think it was a smart move,” Posey conceded about being placed on the DL, “especially being a catcher and having the one (Monday), and you never know if you’ll get some more.”

In this odd year, the Giants — struggling, without Buster Posey for even a few days — don’t need any more.


S.F. Examiner: Opening Day reminder of last season’s woes

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

PHOENIX — Somewhere beyond the usual platitudes and justifications, the expected words that it was only one game and yes, baseball can be bewilderingly strange, is the unavoidable fact the Giants started the 2017 season exactly the way they ended the 2016 season: With a massive bullpen failure.

Say what you want, and what manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday was true to his character, that the Giants should have scored more, that the Arizona Diamondbacks had some good fortune — “seeing-eye hits,” is the phrase — and that a couple of calls by the umpires could have, more specifically, should have gone the other way.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner


S.F. Examiner: Questions for Giants as they drop eight

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Eight in a row for the Giants, the wrong way. True, they don’t count, but going a week without a win, even in the exhibition season brings back haunting memories of the second half of the 2016 regular season, when those losses did count, when San Francisco plunged from first place.

Madison Bumgarner pitched beautifully on a 72-degree Sunday afternoon, and that is what we should take from yet another Cactus League defeat for the Giants, this one to the Kansas City Royals, 4-3.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner


S.F. Examiner: Graveman tops Samardzija in Bay Bridge Series warmup

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Exhibition games are baseball in reverse. “You get the starters their work,” said Bob Melvin, the A’s manager, “and then it’s time for the young guys to finish and get the win.”

Which is exactly what happened Monday for Oakland. Against the Giants

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner


S.F. Examiner: Baseball’s time in the sun

By Art Spander
San Francisco Examiner

GOODYEAR, Ariz. – A manager’s dream. “I’m enjoying seeing those guys,” said Bruce Bochy. So are the rest of us. Not just the Giants, who Sunday out here on the desert among the scrub vegetation and abandoned jet planes, won another game.

Also the fans, few as showed up at Goodyear ballpark, seemingly halfway to California, which the Reds and Indians share each spring. It’s their time in the sun — and, yes, the sun was bright, if the temperature, 65, wasn’t that warm.

Read the full story here.

©2017 The San Francisco Examiner

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