Amy G's Giants Xclusive: Benito Santiago

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Amy G's Giants Xclusive: Benito Santiago

Amy: Thanks a lot for logging on to CSNBayArea.com for an Amy G. Giants Xclusive. I have - yes, it is him - Benito Santiago. He looks exactly the same! Maybe it's maybe a little more salt and pepper in the hair, but that's it. Time has been kind to you Benito.

Benito: Thank you. Thank you.

A: Tell us a little bit about what you're doing currently since retiring from the game.

B: Well I'm enjoying life, you know, and after that I do financial stuff now for the players so when they retire, you know, we wanna make sure they have some money and they continue the good life, and that's what I'm doing right now.

A: Continuing the good life. I love that. That's a good goal. Alright, talk a little bit Benito about your time with the Giants. Of course everyone knows you from that 2002 year. You went to the World Series, you were the NLCS MVP. You had such an important role. What does that year mean to you and your career?

B: You know what, I have played 18 years and never was anything like that when I was over here, especially in that year 2002. I worked from 2002-2003 but every year here was special, you know? I love it. I love these people here in San Francisco, greeting me like...No one has contrition. And you know, being a part of it in 2002, I was - I was proud of that because we reached the goal, you know? Our goal was to win the World Series but it didn't happen, but it was a lot of fun that year and that was my only year going to the World Series. So it's not easy to get there. You know, in 18 years it was my first one. I wanted a ring so bad but you know, everything was good and even though we lost San Francisco people were happy for us and it was all good in 2002.

A: You brought so much joy to the city of San Francisco and people are going to get to see this team again on Sunday. That's actually why you've been around. A big reunion of that 2002 team. Dusty Baker of course is in town. Who are you - I'm sure you're excited to see all of them, but are there some that stick out that you're really excited to see? Some of your former teammates?

B: Oh yeah, yeah, yeah. You know, it's gonna be nice. It's going to be fun, you know, especially when you go to the World Series with this group. I can't wait. I can't wait for Saturday to come and I can spend time with them and then come over here on Sunday and be a part of the show.

A: Yeah. What I've heard so far: Kirk Reuter; Rich Aurilia; of course Dusty's here; J.T. Snow.

B: I think most of the guys are gonna be here. The ones that they're not going to be, you know that, because they're in baseball business, a couple of guys are coaching in Minor Leagues and some others, they gotta do some things, personal stuff. But I'm talking about maybe three to four guys, you know, but the rest of the group is gonna be in.

A: Ok, and another good friend of yours is current San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who in his final year of playing was your rookie year, which you were the Rookie of the Year in 1987. He had a lot of nice things to say about you.

B: Well, you know, I love- I love Bruce. And Bruce is, no- He's not a friend. Bruce is a part of my family and what a guy. What a guy to be around. I was lucky. I was lucky to be around guys like that, and they motivate me, they teach me the right way to play the game and there's not anything bad to say about Bruce. Bruce is, is my brother. He's my brother.

A: Aww. Even though you were the starting catcher that year do you feel like he was a mentor to you?

B: Yes, yes, yes. I say I'm lucky, you know, because I was one of the youngest guys on the team and I played with guys I used to see on TV when I was a kid, you know, and they were there at that point, and they controlled me, kept me as Benito, you know, and they gave me the best advice I could get from anyone, and it was so good overall.

A: Ok last one: How much are you enjoying watching the Giants this year, and who stands out in your eyes?

B: You know what, they have a good club. They have a good club and especially coming from the managers, you know, the managers have to do a lot with that and that's Bruce, but you know I see some exciting new guys over here that they promise to be an All-Star or they already are. But you know, they're doing good. They're doing good, and you know, I see they got- I love the catcher.

A: I know. Me too!

B: That's one of my- That's my favorite position.

A: Great catchers. Posey and Sanchez.

B: It's so good. It's so good. Well, you can tell when he was hurt last year how everything went, you know, and it's an important guy to be here, you know.

A: Pivotal piece.

B: Yes, yes, and I like him. He's a good kid. I go and talk to him, you know, he listens to me very well and he wants to learn. He gets answers to some questions. He wants to get better, you know, like that, and I love it. I love him. I like guys that throw guys out, and he's one.

A: One of the good ones. Yeah, we like that too. Fans really like it when the catcher throws the guy out. When the catcher's on the San Francisco Giants, of course.

B: Yeah, yeah.

A: Benito Santiago, an Amy G. Giants Xclusive. You'll see more of him on Sunday for the broadcast of the 2002 reunion. Thank you for your time and thank you for logging on to CSNBayArea.com.

Giants spring training Day 41: Hwang wins award, hits game-winner

Giants spring training Day 41: Hwang wins award, hits game-winner

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jae-Gyun Hwang’s day started with an ovation from teammates who had selected Hwang as the Barney Nugent Award winner. It ended in style, too. 

Hwang’s walk-off single in the ninth gave the Giants an 8-7 win and raised his spring average to .308. Barring an injury or sudden change, Hwang will not make the team out of camp, but he’ll travel to San Francisco for the Bay Bridge Series next week and the Giants expect him back at AT&T Park soon.

“He can keep the award now,” Bochy joked after Hwang’s walk-off. “Good for him. Players love him, and the way he’s come out every day and the effort he puts in. He’s been inspiring with how hard he has gotten after it every day.”

The Barney Nugent Award is given to the player in his first big league camp “whose performance and dedication in Spring Training best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit.” It is meaningful in large part because the voters are teammates, trainers and coaches. Hwang was called to the middle of the clubhouse by trainer Dave Groeschner on Saturday morning to accept the award. 

“With this being my first time coming to spring training to play baseball, I wanted to work hard and show that I belong here,” Hwang said through interpreter Mark Kim. “I think my teammates have noticed how hard I’ve worked for the team.”

The rest of the Giants have also noticed how easy Hwang has made the transition look. He said that, outside of learning a new strike zone, the adjustment hasn’t been a difficult one. He has four homers this spring, but doesn’t necessarily view that as a shining positive. Hwang said he wants to show more of an all-around game, especially on defense, and a stint in Triple-A Sacramento should provide that opportunity. 

If the rosters play out as expected, Hwang should see most of the time at third base in Triple-A. He can also play first, and he’s eager to show that he’s viable in left field. 

“I want to show I’m a versatile player,” he said. 

GAME RECAP: Chris Stratton was having a good spring, but he got knocked around by the Padres early … Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford both hit deep homers in their second game back from the WBC … Mark Melancon still has not allowed a run this spring … Hunter Pence's March slump got a bit deeper with an 0-for-3 ... Bryan Reynolds, last year’s top pick, entered as a pinch-runner and flew home from first on a Gorkys Hernandez double off the wall. 

BULLPEN BATTLES: In the front office’s perfect world, Josh Osich would be the one to take over for Will Smith, giving the team a hard-throwing lefty capable of neutralizing lefties and righties. It’s been an up-and-down spring for Osich, but he was filthy Saturday, striking out a pair in his lone inning. 

George Kontos looked even better in his inning, striking out the side. Kontos has allowed just five hits in 10 innings this spring, with 15 strikeouts. He seems forever stuck in that sixth-seventh range, but given his splits have been just about even over the years, maybe it’s time the Giants see what he can do in a more high-profile role. 

Cory Gearrin followed the previous two with a perfect eighth. Neil Ramirez struck out one and allowed one hit in the ninth. In 9 1/3 innings this spring, Ramirez has struck out 16 and allowed just five hits and two runs. He has a real shot to take someone’s job in the bullpen next week. 

ICYMI: The big news from this morning: Michael Morse will stick with the team and try to rehab/play his way back to the big leagues. And from the early afternoon, Johnny Cueto had a ton of fun with a 19-year-old he faced in a minor league game. 

NOTABLE: Bochy said that all of the players left in camp are slated to head home on the team flight Tuesday, but some guys have opt-outs on March 30, so moves are coming. This would seem a great sign for Aaron Hill, who is due a $100,000 retention bonus on Tuesday. Hill has slumped late in camp, but he’s still in position to make the team. Also noteworthy: Tyler Beede is scheduled to start Saturday’s game in Oakland. The Giants surely want to knock some MLB-stadium-nerves off before Beede heads down to Triple-A to wait for a call-up.

 

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There is no way to really ramp up the intensity when an All-Star pitcher makes an appearance in minor league camp, so Johnny Cueto instead found a way to have a bit more fun. 

While getting his work in against A-ball hitters, Cueto had a prolonged, smile-filled battle with 19-year-old Jasrado Chisholm, one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. The sequence between Cueto and the shortstop from the Bahamas: 

  • Cueto just missed with a two-strike inside fastball, so he went right back to the same spot, freezing Chisholm, who smiled and nodded at Cueto, who laughed back. 
  • The next time up, Chisholm took two vicious hacks, trying to crank a homer onto Hayden Road. He missed both breaking balls by about a foot. 
  •  Before the third pitch, Cueto yelled something at Chisholm and smiled. “I was telling him to keep his eye on the ball,” Cueto said. “Because every time he was swinging, he was taking his eye off the ball.”
  •  The advice worked. Chisholm hung in on the third pitch, lining a single to left-center. Cueto laughed and pointed his glove at the teenager. He promptly picked him off of first base. “He probably doesn’t know I have a quick move,” he said. “I was having fun with a kid who wanted to actually hit against me.”

Nobody has more fun than Cueto, even on a sun-baked minor league field. He capped his day by standing in for an at-bat of his own, and he stood and watched as a young Diamondback struck him out.

The work on the mound was just what was needed: 7 innings, 85 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 0 runs. Cueto, who missed the opening weeks of camp, is ready for the season.

“I feel strong,” he said. “I feel really good."