Giants

Beltran shies from Pence comparison, expects 'crazy' fans

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Beltran shies from Pence comparison, expects 'crazy' fans

SAN FRANCISCO -- Perennial All Star Carlos Beltran has a unique perspective on the upcoming NLCS between the Giants and Cardinals after spending the second half of last year in San Francisco before signing as a free agent with St. Louis in the offseason.

You might think his familiarity with the Giants organization would give him the upper hand.

"C'mon, no," Beltran brushed away the notion. "You still have to out there and play the games."

The Giants gave up blue-chip pitching prospect Zack Wheeler to acquire Beltran less than three months before he entered free agency. (Wheeler was elevated from Double-A to Triple-A in the Mets organization this year, and went 12-8 with a 3.26 ERA and 148 strikeouts in 25 combined starts.) But Beltran doesn't have any particular message for Giants fans who were upset that the front office didn't make a move to bring him back.

"I made it clear before the (2011) season was over that I was willing to come back," Beltran reiterated Saturday. "Yes, I had a good time (with the Giants), I really enjoyed the opportunity. I think this organization is always taking the right steps to try to put a good team out there and win. I stayed in the offseason and they never called. But as a player I have to make my move."

The move was to the defending world champions, where Beltran signed a two-year, 26 million contract.

If the Giants gave Beltran an extension, the chances that they acquire Hunter Pence from the Philadelphia Phillies at the trade deadline are none.

Beltran avoided a direct comparison with Pence.

"It's hard for me to talk about myself, so I will talk about him," Beltran opted. "I believe he is a good ballplayer. He shows a lot of emotions, a lot of energy in the field. He does everything hard. And I believe since the time he was acquired from Philadelphia he did a good job for the organization. So they should be proud of him."

In reality, Giants fans are more proud of the source of inspiration Pence has provided, rather than his on-field production. Pence's 4-for-20 (.200) NLDS with no runs or RBIs pales in comparison to Beltran's monster series. The seven-time All Star, three-time Gold Glover and two-time Silver Slugger was 8-for-18 (.444) with two home runs, two doubles, four RBIs and five runs scored.

Not surprisingly, Beltran is picking himself over Pence in right field.

"I'm always going to believe in myself," Beltran explained diplomatically. "I believe we will (both) go out there and do well, but our production won't mean anything if the rest of the guys don't play well."

No matter how the rest of the guys play, their respect for Beltran is steadfast, especially that of his former New York teammate and Giants centerfielder Angel Pagan.

"He's my mentor," Pagan said. "Any time I had a question or anything I went to him. I always want to get better, even if it's the last day of my career. And he's such a good hitter and such a great guy."

Direct comparisons between Pence and Beltran will be made, but the only thing that really matters is the outcome of the games.

RELATED: Carlos Beltran stats Hunter Pence stats
Health shouldn't affect Beltran's impact on those games; the 35-year old missed time with the Giants last year with an injured right hand and will play the rest of his career on a right knee that has little cartilage after multiple surgeries. With his knee brace sitting idle in his locker, Beltran announced Saturday he feels completely healthy.

"It's going to be a fun one," Beltran said of the 2012 National League Championship Series. "That's no doubt. This place is going to be packed. Fans are crazy about baseball here."

Cardinals manager Mike Matheny also has ties with the Giants after catching for San Francisco in 2005 and '06. The former Willie Mac Award winner also foresees a good series, though he's not ready to cast it as "fun" just yet.

"I see a knock-down, drag out."

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

***

Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Friday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

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AP

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”