Giants-Pirates: What to watch for

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Giants-Pirates: What to watch for

Programming note: Giants 2012 Opening Day coverage begins today at 12 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live, then Kruk and Kuip are behind the mic to call the Pirates vs. Giants at 1:30 p.m., only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants open their 13th season at AT&T Park, and there wont be a banner raising or a ring ceremony included in the pregame festivities. Instead, theres rain in the forecast.

The Giants do not expect dampened spirits from the stands, though. The club sold out every game last season and could do the same in 2012, even though last years team missed the playoffs and failed to defend its World Series title

Here are a few things to watch for when the anthems and flyovers are complete, and the Giants and Pittsburgh Pirates take the field:

NEW FACES

Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Ryan Theriot and Gregor Blanco will make their home debuts. With his fast start and the flair in his game, Cabrera could establish himself as a fan favorite. Blancos nickname, the White Shark, makes him a natural to be the next hot seller at the plush hat stands. Pagan has spoken with excitement about playing his home games at a ballpark packed with passionate fans. Bet you couldnt guess he was a Met last year.

And then youve got Buster Posey. Despite his case of the shingles, hes expected to start behind the plate. Expect the biggest ovation to be for the Giants beloved catcher, who will be playing his first regular-season game at China Basin since May 25 the night he was involved in a devastating collision near home plate.

SHIVER ME TIMBERS

The Giants havent mopped the poopdeck with the Pirates recently, capturing the season series just three times in the last eight years. Thats not a proud outcome against a franchise that hasnt posted a winning record since Barry Bonds left as a free agent after the 1992 season. (Yes, seriously.)

Last year, the Giants took two of three in PNC Park but lost two of three at home.
RELATED: Stat-Pack -- Giants 9-3 in AT&T Park openers

NO UMBRELLA GIVEAWAY

The weather calls for intermittent showers that should pass through the area by the mid-afternoon. There have been just five rainouts at AT&T Park since the Giants opened their waterfront home in 2000; the last one came April 12, 2006 vs. Houston.

PITCHING MATCHUPS

Right-hander James McDonald (0-0, 3.00 ERA) takes on Matt Cain (0-0, 7.50) on Friday. First pitch is at 1:35 p.m. PDT.

The Pirates havent announced a starter to oppose Barry Zito (1-0, 0.00) on Saturday (6:05 p.m. PDT).

Former Giants right-hander and 2011 NL All-Star Kevin Correia (0-0, 1.50) will face right-hander Ryan Vogelsong on Sunday (1:05 p.m.) Vogelsong came through his two rehab starts for Triple-A Fresno with no lower back problems and will be activated from the disabled list in time to make the start.

Notes: Ex-Giants not getting much traction, not expected to return

Notes: Ex-Giants not getting much traction, not expected to return

SOMEWHERE IN THE AIR, United States — On the first day of the Winter Meetings, I discovered that my hotel room for the week was a few doors down from a section of rooms and suites dedicated to the Chicago Cubs. So either I have a lot of juice with Marriott or the Cubs have very little juice. 

They were a happy group as they came in and out, and for good reason. The Cubs are the reigning champions and they’re the heavy favorites going into 2017. Every other team at the Gaylord National Resort was chasing Theo Epstein and his guys. The Giants, after landing closer Mark Melancon, feel they have the firepower to compete with the Cubs. 

The Melancon move is the big one of the Giants’ offseason and it obscured just about everything else. Here are some other notes, quotes and rumors from five days at the Winter Meetings: 

--- Bobby Evans said the Aroldis Chapman deal ($86 million) came in right around where the Giants expected. The two sides never met in person, and while the Giants kept tabs on the Chapman market, he was always viewed as an unlikely choice. Part of that has to do with a 30-game suspension last season for a domestic violence incident. Evans said the off-field stuff was “not lost on us.” The Giants knew many of their fans were strongly opposed to a Chapman deal. 

“Our hearts and minds were really focused on one guy,” Evans said as he discussed the closer market. It was Melancon, and the Giants got the guy who will now head a bullpen that blew 30 saves during the regular season. 

Evans took some good-natured shots at that number, by the way. He pointed out that many of those “blown saves” came in the sixth or seventh innings and the Giants won a lot of those games. The more important number for the front office was ninth-inning blown saves that led to losses. The Giants lost nine such games, including five in September. 

“That’s the difference,” Evans said. “If you reduce that number to five or four, then that’s maybe the difference in your division.”

The Giants finished four games behind the Dodgers.

--- Joe Maddon said his biggest fear in the postseason was facing Johnny Cueto in Game 5.

--- Angel Pagan was not at the ballpark for the final game of the season. He had an injection in his injured back and was allowed to stay home to try and recover. The Giants told Pagan to prepare for a Game 5, but some team officials believe his postseason was probably over regardless of how far the Giants got. 

--- It was a little surprising, by the way, how little mention there was of Pagan and other Giants free agents. Pagan was briefly connected to the Orioles at one point but otherwise his name has not come up. There are no Gregor Blanco rumors, and nothing significant with Sergio Romo, Jake Peavy, Javier Lopez or Santiago Casilla. 

Giants people who have talked to Romo say he has at least a couple of offers and he’s confident he’ll find a good fit. Lopez is said to be headed for retirement unless an East Coast team (he lives in Georgia) makes a great offer. Peavy is said to be ready to fight for a job as a non-roster invitee in spring training. It seems the majority of the ex-Giants might have to go the non-roster route. Currently, none are expected to return to San Francisco. 

--- Gordon Beckham is technically a “Giants free agent” and several people in the clubhouse approacedh management to relay what a positive impact Beckham had in his week there. He is the kind of energetic, ball-busting presence that helps over a 162-game season, and everyone in the organization loved having him around, but they’re looking for power bats right now when it comes to the bench. 

--- Ramiro Pena is close to a deal to return as a non-roster invitee. The Giants will also add a catcher for Triple-A depth. They’re selecting from a group that includes former Dodgers and Cubs catcher Tim Federowicz. 

--- There will be new managers up and down the minor league system. The affiliates are expected to announce those choices soon. 

--- At the risk of wiping out a bunch of future "The Player to be Named Later has not been named" tweets, here's how it works: The Giants gave the Mariners a small list of prospects they'll watch in spring training, and they'll scout them and choose one player as the return for Chris Heston. It will not be a significant prospect. 

--- Under Armour will be the exclusive uniform provider of MLB starting in 2020, and all jerseys will have a small Under Armour logo on the chest. No exceptions, from the awful Diamondbacks jerseys to the Yankees pinstripes to the Giants. It was bound to happen eventually. The Giants have some of Under Armour’s most prominent baseball players, including Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Joe Panik. 

--- The Giants never had any intention of pursuing a reunion with Pablo Sandoval. If they can add depth at third, they will, but for now Eduardo Nuñez is slated to be the opening day starter. Keep in mind, too, that Christian Arroyo will primarily play third base in the minors from now on. 

--- Bill Hayes, who was relieved of his duties as first-base coach, will stay with the big league staff. His exact role has not been determined. Roberto Kelly will not return in a different role. 

--- CSN did a bunch of one-on-one interviews this week, and two of them — Evans and Bruce Bochy — are available here as podcasts. If you’re a fan of the podcast, please consider hitting subscribe on iTunes. It’s good for the pod. 

--- In case you missed it: Here's an explanation of why the Giants are unlikely to add an expensive outfielder. The Giants currently have four players set for the WBC. Hensley Meulens will manage the Netherlands. Ryan Vogelsong helped Melancon choose the Giants. Bochy on if he has any postseason regrets. 

--- Melancon will be introduced at a 1 p.m. press conference on Friday. It will air on CSN Bay Area and you can stream it on this website. 
 

Wife of former Giants outfielder Andres Torres passes away

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Twitter/BengieMolina1

Wife of former Giants outfielder Andres Torres passes away

Former Giants outfielder Andres Torres lost his wife on Wednesday evening.

Soannie Torres passed away from cancer.

Andres played for the Giants from 2009 to 2011 and again in 2013.

During the Giants' World Series run in 2010, he hit .268 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI over 139 regular season games.

In the World Series against the Rangers, he batted .318 and hit a home run.

Torres was the 2010 winner of the Willie Mac Award, -- given annually to the Giants' most inspirational player.

To donate to the Soannie Torres Memorial Fund, click here.