Clubhouse comic Theriot misses parade to handle personal matter


Clubhouse comic Theriot misses parade to handle personal matter

SAN FRANCISCO -- It was one of the main themes that Hunter Pence touchedon during his first spirit session of the postseason.

Sure, he wanted to play one more game with his teammates,and he didnt want to go home. But he mentioned one more thing: I want to see whatJerry is going to wear tomorrow.

Jerry is second baseman Ryan Theriot -- apparently because hecalls everyone by that name in the clubhouse.

Unfortunately for Pence and his teammates, they didnt getto see Theriot at the World Series parade. He was the only member of theplayoff roster unable to attend because he was called away to deal with apersonal matter, Giants CEO Larry Baer said.

His absence was felt -- especially by teammates who werewondering how his victory parade getup would top the wild duds he wore allseason.

Heading to the park for Game 4 of the World Series, Theriotmatched a camel hair coat with a beanie.

It was beautiful, he said.

Shortstop Brandon Crawford could only shake his head.

Hell wear sort of plaid jacket that doesnt match hisshirt, Crawford said. He pulls it off somehow, though.

The Giants pulled off their second World Series in threeyears, and it was beyond fitting that Theriot scored the winning run in the 10thinning Sunday night. He was the designated hitter for the first time in hiscareer, leading to all kinds of guffaws from teammates when they saw thelineup.

As he stepped in the box in the 10th, Theriot hadno idea that Tigers left-hander Phil Coke had struck out all seven hitters hedfaced in the World Series.

Really? Wow, Theriot said. I just know I didnt want toget to the breaking ball. When I face a guy with a legitimate strikeout pitch,I think one pitch and thats what Im going with. It was a fastball up and Iput a good swing on it. I didnt want to get to the slider.

Theriot ripped the pitch into right field. It was just hissecond hit in 18 in World Series at-bats, counting last years experience withthe St. Louis Cardinals. He advanced on Crawfords sacrifice, and after Angel Paganstruck out, a vibe washed through the Giants dugout as Marco Scutaro stepped tothe plate.

Well, Theriot is always talking about how he scored thewinning run in the College World Series, Hunter Pence said. So when he got tosecond base, that lifted our spirits. When Scutaro was up to bat, we were all, 'It has to happen.' And it did.

Scutaro, the guy who took Theriots starting second base jobin August, got Cokes slider. He shot it to right field, as hes done so manytimes since joining the team from the Colorado Rockies.

A throw never came home. And Theriot became that kid from LSU adozen years ago. (Watch this if you care to compare.) He took no chances, slidinglike he was colliding with an imaginary pair of shinguards.

I didnt know it was necessary, Theriot said. But you've seen thehighlights when guys didnt slide. And I, 100 percent, was not going to letthat happen to me.

The dugout is going to erupt any time someone scores ago-ahead run in the 10th inning of a clinching World Series game.But it might have been a little more raucous because it was Theriot who scored it, roaringin a sumo wrestlers pose after flinging himself across the plate.

He was the Giants' daily comic relief -- the guy who wore muckboots to the shower, who dressed to impress and who started throwing sunflowerseeds, bubblegum and even protein bars during the pregame rally throngs.

Youve got to be careful, those bars are hard, Theriotsaid. I did think about getting a couple hundred bucks in 1s and making itrain. That was my plan. Didnt happen, though.

While were on the subject of dollars, it might be worthmentioning that Theriot is the answer to a trivia question: He was the Giantsmost expensive free-agent acquisition last winter, at 1.75 million. Thatsexactly 212.25 million less than what the Tigers gave Prince Fielder, who went1-for-14 in the World Series with no walks and four strikeouts. And its a lotless than the dead money the Dodgers absorbed to get Adrian Gonzalez from theRed Sox.

Its hard to pin a value on what Theriot provided to theseWorld Series champions Giants while winning his second ring in two seasons. Butthose who were around him every day understand what he was worth.

What Scutaro did all season is unbelievable but I dontthink people saw what Theriot did for us, Cain said. He was such an asset forus in the clubhouse. It wasnt an easy spot for him, but when we needed him, hestepped up. And now hes the DH and ends up scoring the deciding run. Thatsjust awesome.

Giants spring training Day 7: Rule change should help Bochy

Giants spring training Day 7: Rule change should help Bochy

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On one of the many nights last season when his bullpen imploded, Bruce Bochy nearly put a catcher on the mound. Trevor Brown ended up playing an inning of third base on June 28 as the Giants gave up eight runs over the final two innings in a brutal loss to the A’s, and he said this week that he was told he was the next man up on the mound. 

That night was an odd one, as a tired bullpen was waiting for Sergio Romo to get activated off a rehab assignment and trying to get by without long reliever Chris Stratton, who had thrown 57 pitches out of the ‘pen the night before. The bench was also short because Joe Panik was about to be put on the concussion DL.

Bochy hopes he doesn’t have to deal with such a situation this season, and not just because the bullpen should be much improved. The disabled list lasts 10 days now, not 15, and Bochy is thrilled with the new rule.

“The DL thing, I really like it,” he said. “You get caught in that gray area so often.” 

Bochy met with league officials on Saturday to go over some of the rule changes. DL stints can now be made retroactive just three days, but it’s still a vast improvement overall. 

“With (position) players and pitchers it’s going to make it easier to DL guys,” Bochy said. “If you’re looking at (starting) pitchers, they could miss just one start.”

The Giants have often played a man or more short, trying to get by day-by-day to give a position player or starter time to heal. Around camp, this could be called the Angel Pagan Rule, as the former Giants outfielder often missed a week or so before officially going on the DL. At times, Bochy has been patient with players like Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, knowing that even if they missed a week, keeping them off the DL could still earn the Giants seven or eight games with a big bat back in the lineup. If a future diagnosis is that a player will miss a week, it’ll be much easier to swallow putting him on the 10-day DL than it was for the 15-day. Likewise, the Giants will take advantage of the change if a pitcher will have to miss a start. 

Bochy has said often that he would like every reliever to go on the DL during the season to freshen up. That’ll make more sense now, and it should keep the Giants from having to play as many games where the bullpen is gassed and a backup catcher is preparing to pitch. For guys like Stratton — a versatile pitcher on the 40-man roster — it should also lead to increased trips up to the big leagues to fill gaps. 

INJURY UPDATE: Pence (side muscle) took 25 swings during a live BP session in the cage and Bochy said he’s doing much better. That was about the only significant activity Sunday. Once again, the workout was rained out. Bochy said the Giants have enough time to get guys ready for the Cactus League opener on Feb. 24, but they’ll likely hold some big-name pitchers out of the early games. Brandon Crawford and Posey will get plenty of early starts to prepare for the WBC. 

PROSPECT WATCH: If the early games are turned over to prospects, Dan Slania will be an interesting guy to watch. Slania is listed at 6-foot-5 and 275 pounds, so he always had the look of an imposing reliever. But his greatest success last season came after a surprise move to the rotation. 

Slania, a 2013 fifth-round pick out of Notre Dame, got a call on his 24th birthday telling him to prepare to start because of an injury in Richmond’s rotation. He had not started a game since high school, but his four-pitch mix worked. He had a 5.32 ERA out of the bullpen but it dropped to 1.48 in 10 starts for the Flying Squirrels. In two Triple-A starts, he struck out 14 over 13 innings while allowing just eight hits and two runs. The Giants put him on their 40-man roster to protect him from the Rule 5 Draft. 

“He had a great year last year,” Bochy said. “He’s in camp for a reason. He’s got great stuff and a good makeup.”

RULE CHANGE: One more thing that came out of that rules meeting: Managers who are out of challenges now have to wait until the eighth inning to ask an umpire to look at a play.

QUOTABLE: “We know he’s better off taking some days. We talked about it (with him). He agrees that it’ll help him.” Bochy on Pence’s workload. The right fielder is coming off two injury-marred seasons, and the Giants have no intention of even trying to get him back to his Iron Man days. 

Tomlinson still a fit as Giants put bench together

Tomlinson still a fit as Giants put bench together

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The “options game” can be a cruel one. It can also be one of the most important parts of spring training. 

If two players are relatively even at the end of camp but only one can be optioned to the minors, he’s usually the man left out. Giants officials have already made reference to this several times in discussing left field, where Jarrett Parker — who is out of options — would surely be claimed off waivers if the Giants try to sneak him back to the minors before Opening Day. Mac Williamson, on the other hand, can be shuttled back and forth. 

The same holds true for Kelby Tomlinson, and while it was easy during the first week of camp to see him as the odd man out, manager Bruce Bochy said that’s not the case. What do all the veteran infielders mean for the young one already in-house?

“It hasn’t affected anything for Kelby, really,” Bochy said. “It’s all about competition for spots on this team.”

Tomlinson played 54 games in 2015 and 52 a year ago, but the Giants put a clear emphasis this offseason on finding backup infielders. Jimmy Rollins, Jae-gyun Hwang, Orlando Calixte and Gordon Beckham were among those brought in before camp, and Aaron Hill arrived on the fourth day. Sure, Ehire Adrianza — who was seemingly perpetually out of options — is no longer around, but if the Giants carry just two backup infielders, one of them will almost certainly be Conor Gillaspie. 

Tomlinson isn’t bothered by the offseason of additions. He said he can take knowledge away from six weeks spent with guys he grew up watching.

“Rollins’ prime was right in my later high school years,” he said, smiling. “I’ve got a lot of guys to learn from and watch. It’s a little of both (a competition and learning experience). We’re all fighting for the same job, but we’re still on the same team and we’re all trying to learn from each other and help each other.”

Tomlinson is the incumbent, and the Giants certainly know all about his speed and ability to play all over the field (he continued to take fly balls this winter, just in case). They also now know that Tomlinson adds something that’s needed on any bench. Last season, he emerged as one of Bochy’s most reliable pinch-hitters. 

Tomlinson’s seven pinch-hits were tied for second on the team after Gillaspie’s 11. He was 7-for-17 in a pinch, adding three walks. Tomlinson’s simple swing and up-the-middle approach have proven perfect for important spots. He’s a .315 career hitter with runners in scoring position, a .373 hitter in situations baseball-reference deems “late and close,” and a .367 hitter in “high leverage” spots.

“I’m just trying to compete up there every at-bat, especially in that pinch-hitting role,” Tomlinson said. “It’s a grind, but that makes it fun when you give the team a quality at-bat. Even if it’s not a hit, you go up there and try to see five pitches and have a good at-bat.”

Tomlinson has given the Giants plenty of them over parts of two seasons. With Brandon Crawford headed for the World Baseball Classic, he is sure to see increased time this spring, and while the options game or non-roster list might catch up to him, the Giants haven’t forgotten what they already have. 

“He gives us versatility,” Bochy said, “So he’s in the mix, too.”