Coaches Working OT in Spring

Coaches Working OT in Spring


SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. If you think players work hard at spring training, you should see what kind of time the coaches put in. Theyre the first to show up in the morning and typically the last to leave.This is their busiest and most important time of year; once the season starts, the amount of actual coaching -- more specifically, teaching -- is minimal. Here is where they refine everybodys fundamentals, help individuals make any necessary adjustments in their game, and set the work-ethic tone for the marathon to come.During the season, coaches are basically in maintenance mode, keeping their troops sharp during the limited work time before each game. During the game, they assume roles just like the players.Third-base coach Tim Flannery has one of the most important in-game jobs on the Giants coaching staff; hes the guy who has to make the split-second, high-profile decisions -- stop or try to score -- that can be the difference between winning and losing.His job at spring training is awfully big, too, though, as evidenced by a scene I observed and a conversation I had with Flannery in the Giants dugout at Scottsdale Stadium.The scene -- part of which you can see in my flip-cam home videos for the day -- played out on the main diamond, some 45 minutes before the start of the full-squad workout. Flannery, well into his workday at about 9:15 in the morning, was on the mound feeding a pitching machine. Rotating in and out of the cage were Andres Torres, Eugenio Velez, Nate Schierholtz and Kevin Frandsen.Early hitting? Nope. Early bunting, and Flannery is the designated bunting instructor. Torres, Velez, Schierholtz and Frandsen are the fastest players on a generally slow roster, and the Giants need to take advantage of that speed whenever possible.None of the aforementioned four has a starting job locked down, but Schierholtz is the obvious frontrunner in right field. Torres likely will end up as a backup in the outfield, Frandsen is trying to win a job as a utility infielder, and Velez will play all over the field.As bench players, theyll be key to the Giants success this year, and Flannery needs to make sure each of them can consistently play small ball.Thats not all Flannery does here. He throws batting practice every day, hes the baserunning instructor, and he hits fungoes -- ground balls -- throughout the day. He hits a lot of fungoes. I was wondering exactly how many hes hit in his 15 years as a coach, so I asked him when he stopped to get a drink of water while I was working in the dugout. "You know, I figured it out one day, a rough estimate," he told me. "I figure I hit about 44,000 ground balls a year."Multiplied by 15 seasons, that equals 660,000 fungoes. If he stays in coaching, that means hell pass the million mark at some point in 2017."Thats why," Flannery said with a smile before running back onto the field for more work, "we all get double shots of cortisone the day we get here every spring."--Mychael Urban
What's your take? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start


Madison Bumgarner was back on the bump Sunday night in a Giants jersey for the first time since being placed on the DL due to a dirt bike accident on April 21.

Bumgarner took the mound for the Arizona Rookie League Giants against the Arizona Rookie League Angels and did not allow a hit in three innings pitched. The Giants' ace also struck out two and walked one. 

In both the first and third innings, Bumgarner pitched a perfect three up and three down frame. 

Bumgarner was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his left throwing shoulder and sustained bruised ribs from his dirt bike accident on an off day in Colorado. Pitching in a game for the first time in over two months, Bumgarner was throwing between 88-91 miles per hour, according to Tommy Stokke of FanRagSports. 

After finishing his three innings of work, Bumgarner went down to the bullpen to increase his pitch count, reports Sande Charles of FanRagSports

Before sustaining the injury, Bumgarner was 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts this season. 

The Giants have gone 21-41 since Bumgarner's injury. They are 27-51 on the year and sit 24.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. 

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes after yet another missed opportunity at the plate Sunday, a voice came over a speaker in the press box at AT&T Park and announced a 524th consecutive sellout. It nicely summed up this current stretch of Giants baseball. 

The seats are emptier than they used to be at first pitch, and they were just about abandoned in the ninth inning of an 8-2 loss, but for the most part the fans are still showing up in droves. One woman brought a toaster by the dugout Sunday morning and asked players and coaches to sign it, hoping to recapture the magic from across the bridge. Another, Bryan Stow, made his first appearance of the season at AT&T Park, met with Bruce Bochy, and said he hoped to see a win. As Matt Moore started warming up, a band set up on top of the visiting dugout to play hits that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. 

For a while, AT&T Park was rocking. And then, as has happened so often this summer, the game started. 

The Giants turned in another epic clunker in a season full of them. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of 26, but it’s worse than the raw numbers. On most nights, some in the organization have noted privately, they are simply boring. It’s one thing to lose, it’s quite another to do it in this way. 

“There’s no getting around it,” Bochy said after the sweep. “I’ve been through some tough stretches here and this is as tough as any stretch I’ve seen. For some reason the baseball gods are really testing us here and (testing) this group. It’s not that they’re not coming out ready or trying, but enough is enough.

“At some point, we’ve got to find a way to get this thing turned around.”

Even a slight pivot would be welcomed by the faithful. There were scattered boos Sunday, the latest in a growing trend. This is a fan base that has seen the highest highs, but rarely in franchise history have the lows been this low. 

The crowd no longer turns to the rally lights that were used so often in an awful April, but the noise still grows with each new rally. And then, every single time Sunday, the Giants killed off any hope. 

In the second inning, a Brandon Belt bunt single and Brandon Crawford bloop put two on, but a pair of rookies flied out. 

In the third, the bases were loaded ahead of Buster Posey. He flied out to bring one run across, and there were still runners on the corners for Belt, who leads the team in homers. On a 2-2 count, Hunter Pence inexplicably took off for second. He was caught, the inning was over, and the two-run Mets lead was intact. Bochy said he did not send Pence. 

In the sixth, there were two on with no outs for Posey. Both runners bolted to stay out of a double play. Posey popped up to first -- for a double play.

“He’s not a guy that strikes out, so I’m pretty confident sending runners with Buster,” Bochy said. “We can’t keep laying back. We’re trying to force the issue a bit and stay out of double plays.”

In the eighth, the Giants loaded the bases for Posey and Belt. Posey grounded out. Belt struck out for the third time. 

“We’re getting guys out there,” Bochy said. “We’re not doing enough damage.”

Matt Moore’s damage was self-inflicted. He twice gave up homers to the guy — Rene Rivera — hitting in front of the pitcher. Moore said he has stopped throwing his cutter the past three starts and tried to get his four-seamer going, but the Mets were teeing off. Moore gave up five runs on seven hits. He was pulled in the fifth, left to think about mechanics that still aren’t right. 

“The cutter is a little bit different of a pitch and at times it can take away from the four-seam fastball location-wise, and command of the four-seam was starting to go down the more I threw (the cutter),” Moore said. “I’m anxious to get back to it, but the foundation has got to be throwing the four-seam fastball. I need to execute where they’re carrying through the zone, not running or cutting.”

Moore said his confidence is fine and his problems are not physical. Others can no longer say that. Austin Slater, a rare bright spot in this five-win month, was pulled with a tight hip flexor. He was headed for an MRI. 

Slater is too young to be one of the players Bochy approached after the game. He said he talked to a few, though, passing along that “enough is enough” message. Moore, last in the National League in ERA (6.04), was not one who needed a reminder. 

“I’m sitting on a six right now with not a lot of wins and not enough team wins when I’m throwing,” he said. “It’s been 'enough' for me for the last couple of months.”