Giants Insider notebook: Inspirational skipper


Giants Insider notebook: Inspirational skipper

Feb. 19, 2011

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- One of the annual rites of spring training is the manager's speech to his team before the first full-squad workout.Some skippers keep it short, some go long, some go mostly off-the-cuff, some have agonized over every aspect of the address for quite some time before delivering it.The messages may vary, but every one of big-league ball's 30 managers, in giving this first speech, essentially gets to cut the ribbon on his team's grand opening.Only one of them gets to deliver his speech to the reigning World Series champions, though, and this year's honor was that of Bruce Bochy, who greeted the first full gathering of the 2011 Giants on Friday -- with the 2010 Giants very much on his mind."It was special," Bochy said. "When I stood up and started talking to them, I looked around and thought about last year and how proud of these guys and what all it took for them to accomplish what we did. It was a pretty neat feeling to stand up there and look at the world champions."Bochy's message?"We're coming off a great year," Bochy said. "I hope these guys have had time to savor what they've done, because it really is unbelievable. But it's time to get to work. We won't let go of those memories; you never let go of them. But at the same time, you have to concentrate on what's ahead of you, and we have some work to do."I think these guys have earned the attention they're getting, but with that said, success is never final. You have to earn it over and over again. We know that. It's a new year, it's a new season, it's a new race."So it's time for us to get back to work."WHERE'S WILSON?

Closer Brian Wilson didn't participate in the workout, extending to four days his absence from on-field festivities, but Bochy continued to characterize Wilson's sore back as a minor issue that calls for and receives more caution than concern.
NEWS: After testing back, Giants shut down Wilson again
Wilson on Friday was extremely confident that he'd be taking part in Saturday's workout, but Bochy has let it be known that the Giants know Wilson too well to let him gung-ho his way back onto the field. Also on the medical front, backup catcher Eli Whiteside has been told to cool his jets for another couple of days to allow the swelling to subside in his tweaked right elbow. An MRI exam and X-rays showed nothing more than a build-up of fluid.PANDA AT THE PLATE

The workout was hastily rearranged as a concession to the forecast of heavy rain expected to hammer Scottsdale no later than early afternoon, so the live batting practice -- Giants hitters vs. Giants pitchers -- opened the show instead of closing it, and Pablo Sandoval played a starring role.Facing minor-league righty Felix Romero, Sandoval blasted a home run into the picnic area high above the right-field wall on his very first swing. He also homered to left-center, prompting more praise from Bochy, who has been extolling the virtues of Sandoval's dedication to improved fitness since first seeing the slimmed-down Panda in person."First swing, it looked like he wanted to make a statement," Bochy said. "He can change our offense if he's back to where he was a couple years ago."ME FIRST, ME FIRST!

Another highlight from batting practice was the matchup of the day, pitting Tim Lincecum against a group that included Pat Burrell, Aubrey Huff and Mark DeRosa.Burrell volunteered to play the leadoff man, and he lined Lincecum's very first offering into right field for what would have been a clean single in any game. It had to feel pretty good to Burrell, who'd surely like to quickly prove that whatever ailed him during the World Series last year has been cured, but Huff couldn't resist trying to take some wind out of his close friend's sails, saying after the workout that Burrell wanted to bat first because he figured the first pitch from the Freak would be his slowest of the day.Whatever the case, Burrell's line drive was the last hard contact that Lincecum would allow while methodically buzzing through his workout with game-ready nastiness.The rain did eventually come, by the way, and it was pretty nasty, too, bringing high-speed winds with it. Getting the tarp on the infield could have devolved into a massive blue kite flying through Old Town had the crew not worked so doggedly.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from A's loss despite five home runs


Hit five home runs, and a team has to like its chances of winning.

The A’s simply couldn’t keep up with the Houston Astros’ bats, however, in an 11-8 loss Wednesday night that snapped Oakland’s four-game winning streak. Khris Davis went deep twice, and Ryon Healy, Jed Lowrie and Matt Olson all went deep as the A’s set their season high for home runs.

But Houston racked up 17 hits against Jesse Hahn (3-6) and four relievers and evened this three-game series at a game apiece. It was the second time Hahn has gotten knocked around by Houston inside of a week.

The A’s took an early lead, 5-4, in the third on the second of Davis’ two homers, part of a four-run rally for Oakland. But the Astros answered right back with five runs in the bottom half, and the A’s never recovered from that momentum swing.

Hahn’s struggles continue: Hahn was trying to rebound after the Astros hung nine earned runs on him last Thursday at the Coliseum. Things didn’t improve Wednesday at Minute Maid Park, as the right-hander lasted just two-plus innings and allowed six runs on nine hits. Is this a case of one team simply having Hahn’s number or do the A’s make a move and try someone else in the rotation? It bears watching.

Krush Davis x 2: It was apparent early this would be a slugfest, with Khris Davis homering twice within the first three innings as the A’s tried to keep pace. He led off the second with a shot to left field, then came back with a three-run blast to left in the third that put Oakland up 5-4. The homers were his team-leading 20th and 21st.

Reddick-ulous night: Josh Reddick filled up the stat sheet against his old team in every way imaginable. He went 3-for-4 with three RBI and two runs, and twice caught the A’s by surprise by stealing third base. For good measure, he turned in an excellent running catch in right field to rob Yonder Alonso.

Strange offensive night: What to make of this night offensively for the A’s? They hit a season-high five homers but also struck out a whopping 17 times. No matter … you can’t hang this one on the offense, because …

The pitching staff just couldn’t hold things down: Josh Smith was called upon to hold down the fort after Hahn departed in the third, but Smith was tagged for three runs on four hits. Daniel Coulombe and John Axford also got touched for runs. Rookie Michael Brady did turn in 1 1/3 scoreless innings.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”