Theriot is quick with a line - and on bases, too

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Theriot is quick with a line - and on bases, too

SAN FRANCISCO Brandon Crawford is fighting to competeagainst major league pitching, as the Giants anticipated, and some days areeasier to handle than others.

The gifted shortstop recalled a time last week when he gotparticularly upset after a pitcher jammed him and he hit a dribbler back to themound.

I was pretty frustrated when I came back to the dugout,said Crawford, who was intercepted by second baseman Ryan Theriot.

He says, Oh man, I thought you got that one, saidCrawford, smiling at the memory. How can you be in a bad mood after that?

Theriot is making obvious contributions in the two-plusweeks since he came off the disabled list. Theres his .345 average in 15games. Theres his eight RBIs, mostly on two-out hits. Theres his ability torip an inside pitch into left field or shoot one to the right side to move arunner.

Theres even four surprising stolen bases, and a fifthattempt, too, in which he got a tremendous jump but was tagged out after he overslid the bag.

Theres the peace of mind hes given to Giants manager BruceBochy, who had been spackling second base together with Emmanuel Burriss andJoaquin Arias. (With Theriot emerging as the second baseman and everyday No.2hitter, at least now Bochy can narrow his focus to finding some kind of productionat first base.)

Theres more.

With Theriots role on the team expanding, so too is hispersonality. The Baton Rouge native wears Western shirts that couldve beenstolen from the wardrobe department at Hee-Haw. He has a pair of white muckboots instead of shower shoes. His irreverent sensibilities fit well on a teamthat is younger from the position-player side and didnt have an outspokenpresence.

(And truth be told, Theriot is not even the biggestentertainer in his family. His young son, Houston, is a born showman whoroutinely cracks up players in the clubhouse.)

Baseball is a game of certain failure. For young playerslike Crawford and Brandon Belt, who are prone to overanalyzing every bad at-bat ormissed opportunity, Theriot is there with a quick line to relieve the pressure.

Hes a good guy to play with because hes never really in abad mood, Crawford said. He keeps you in a good mood no matter what.

Its been just 15 games since Theriot took over as thesecond baseman. Nobody is expecting the 32-year-old veteran, who arrived on aminor league contract, to hit .345 the rest of the way. He isnt coming off his best season,either even if it ended with a World Series ring with the St. LouisCardinals.

But perhaps his game is a better fit in this lineup, and at this ballpark.

Last year for me was my worst running-wise, said Theriot,who was thrown out in six of 10 attempts. The way the lineup was set up,youve got the best hitter whos ever played the game behind you. Youre notgoing to take any chances with Albert Pujols coming up, and I didnt.

Im not going to run into outs. Im not going to go just togo. Youll get thrown out and thats part of it. But its about picking goodtimes, and if youre not going to hit home runs as a team, youd better get inscoring position.

Especially at home, where the Giants home run drought isreaching levels seldom seen in the last half-century.

Unbelievably, the Giants havent hit a home run in 506at-bats at home. Their streak of 16 consecutive home games without a homer isthe longest by a major league club in 22 years. (The 1990 Houston Astros, stillplaying at the Astrodome, also failed to homer in 16 consecutive home games.)

If the Giants dont hit one out Tuesday night in the series opener against the Astros, their streak will match the longest by an NL teamsince the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946.

Yet the Giants are 10-6 over their stretch of homerlessgames at home because theyve embraced who they are. Players on last yearsroster like Cody Ross and Aaron Rowand would mutter about the ballpark uponreturning to the dugout or try to solve their problems by swinging harder. But thiscurrent, athletic roster is letting the park suit their game. Despite beingshut out twice by the Texas Rangers over the weekend, their first shutouts ofthe season, theyve done what Bochy and GM Brian Sabean envisioned in thespring: Hitting doubles and triples and moving runners on the basepaths.

Everyone expected Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera to be a partof that. Theriot is proving hes still capable, too.

Hes my guy, said Pagan, who played alongside Theriot withthe Chicago Cubs. Ive gotta mess with him sometimes. But Im never worriedabout him. He knows how to prepare himself. Both of us started slow but you seethe momentum he has right now. Its better to finish strong, right?

Theriots key on the bases has been to get tremendous jumps. Pagan notedthe way that Theriot read the Padres Jason Marquis last week at Petco Park,knowing the pitcher's tendency is not to throw over to first base. Giants third basecoach Tim Flannery likes that Theriot is a peeker and doesnt just run withhis head down. Considering the Giants are more often in run-and-hit thanstraight steal mode, its important that their baserunners know where the ballis at all times.

The ball is the only thing that can get you out, Flannerysaid.

Does Theriot have a constant green light? Well, hed like tothink so.

Oh, we hold him, said Bochy. But hes smart about it. Ifthey give it to him, hell take it.

Reading pitchers, playing to the scoreboard, picking certaincounts when he might get a breaking ball a lot goes into Theriots philosophyon when to run.

And yes, the comedian can talk like a philosopher at times.

Theres a lot of different ways to win ballgames, he said.But really, the only way is to score more runs than the other team. Now, wellhave to hit a few home runs but when we dont, it just means weve gotta doother things better than everybody else.

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.