Giant Olympians?


Giant Olympians?

Programming note: Giants-Cardinals coverage gets underway today at 4:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live, followed by live baseball from St. Louis, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

DENVER Ryan Theriot thought deeply on the question:Which of his Giants teammates could win an Olympic gold medal, and in what event?I would probably win what is it, the decathlon? Theriot said. Yeah. Id win that. Because Im a freak athlete.Baseball is no longer a medal sport (the recently traded Nate Schierholtz won a bronze in Beijing four years ago), but there are plenty of Olympic endeavors some more random than others -- that use similar skills. And baseball players come in all shapes and sizes, from lithe Tim Lincecum to the rotund Kung Fu Panda.Surely these world-class athletes could find their way to some medal stand in London, right?Oh, no joke, said Brandon Belt, shortly after watching the American swimmers dominate the 4x100 medley relay. Im undefeated in the Nacogdoches city pool. I turned away all challengers. I swim like a fish. I could probably do the medley, but freestyle is my thing.Anyone want to get behind a freestylebelt hashtag?Ill either swim the freestyle or, you know what, I could play ping-pong, Belt said. Id do that. People dont account for my left-handedness.Theriot rolled his eyes.Have you seen those guys? Theriot said. You wouldnt win one point.What if you combined swimming and table tennis into one event? Its no less random than the winter biathlon, where you cross-country ski and shoot a rifle, right?Thats not a bad idea, Belt said. That might be my best chance.Speaking of marksmanship, several players suggested Jeremy Affeldt would hold his own in an archery competition. And as head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said, If it involves shooting something, Ill take Bumgarner.Yes, Madison Bumgarner was a popular mention in any of the various events involving firearms. The big left-hander actually has won a few long-distance 5-shot and 10-shot competitions in North Carolina.Can I use a scope? he said.Sure. Why not? Would he always use the same gun?Nope, he said. Ive got lots of guns.Left-hander Javier Lopez said Bumgarner might be the Giants best chance at a medal.Because theres no actual physical activity, Lopez said.Well, baseball players are pretty good at throwing. So maybe Pablo Sandoval could heave a shot put and Melky Cabrera, who has unleashed a few missiles to the plate this season, could be one heck of a left-handed javelin thrower (following in the footsteps of onetime international javelin competitor Felipe Alou).As for the discus?Give me Hunter Pence, Giants third base coach Tim Flannery said. You see the way he throws from down there? There you go.Pence received mentions in several categories, actually. Manager Bruce Bochy shared Flannerys notion of the discus throw. Lopez suggested Pence looks kind of like a beach volleyball guy to me.Yeah, Ive played a little beach volleyball, but I dont know, Pence said. Ive got long arms, but I cant extend them. And if its anything to do with throwing, Ill take our pitchers. Weve got a pretty good pitching staff here.This reporter suggested that Pence, with his long legs and upper body strength, might do well in sculls or one of the other rowing events.Rowing? Yeah, that might be my best shot, Pence said. Its endurance and back strength. I could see myself being decent.Brad Penny told shortstop Brandon Crawford that he could medal in one of the rowing events as hard as that might be to envision.I dont see it either, but Ill take his word for it, Crawford said.Lets put down Penny for Greco-Roman wrestling, instead.But lest we forget, baseball is a team sport. And there were several players who suggested a dynamic badminton duo of Theriot and Tim Lincecum.Theriot would win at badminton, Pence said. Hes got the quickness and the hand-eye coordination. Hes got the squirrelly mannerisms.Right-hander Clay Hensley mentioned that Buster Posey would make a good water polo goalie, since hes always blocking scuds in the dirt. And he embraced the badminton idea for Lincecum as well.Hey Timmy, would you be good at badminton? Hensley asked.Yes, Lincecum said, matter-of-factly. Id be pretty good at fencing, too.Just make sure Affeldt doesnt get near a foil or epee. Remember, this is the guy who stabbed his hand last year while trying to separate frozen hamburger patties. Its a miracle Affeldt didnt cut himself when he handled the Samurais sword given to Matt Cain after he pitched his perfect game.Posey had a safer suggestion for Affeldt:I can see Affeldt in beach volleyball because of his superior physique, Posey said, trying to swallow a smile. If you ask him, hell tell you how good hed look out there. Oh yeah, the Speedo put him and Bumgarner on a team. Now youre talking.Posey couldnt come up with an event for himself, leading Crawford to moan, Im sure Buster would win in anything hed be in.And as for Crawford?Well, for me I guess I played basketball in high school, he said.A member of the Dream Team? Crawford and LeBron and Kobe, finishing on a break?Sure, why not? Crawford said.If you want an out-there suggestion, Theriot is your man. He kept coming back with more ideas, including bench coach Ron Wotus in that run-walk thing.Ive got it. Ive got it, said Theriot, rushing back to offer one more wild thought. Romo and Wilson synchronized diving. Maybe representing the country of Mars.OK, time for some practical suggestions. Lets ask strength and conditioning coach Carl Kochan, who knows these players physical skills and potential better than anyone:Ill take Affeldt at archery, Bum with shooting, Javier Lopez with the bikevelodrome thing Kochan said. Ill take (Gregor) Blanco playing soccer and maybe Hector Sanchez, too.
He can do some tricks with a soccer ball. Lets go with Melky in the javelin and Pablo in the shot put. And Angel Pagan with boxing.Boxing?Sure, Kochan said. Hes quick, explosive, powerful, selective everything he does has a purpose. Boxing is very technical. I think hed be good at it.Pagan said he laced up the gloves a few times while growing up in Puerto Rico. But hed rather take his chances in the 100 meters or 200 meters. And he likes Bumgarner in the javelin, but only if he has animals he can aim it at.And Pagan had a little fun with Aubrey Huff, who face-planted while trying to jump the dugout rail after Matt Cains perfect game.Hey Huffy, Pagan said. How about the 110-meter hurdles?Huff shot him a look that said everything.But in all this discussion, both silly and serious, weve left out the obvious: Lincecum, the gymnast.He has a spine-bending delivery. He walks on his hands. He can do backflips on command. Its a given, right?Great call, oh, great call, Kochan said. Id take him in the floor exercise because hes like a freaky spider monkey.Id like his chances in the all-around, Theriot said.Lincecum said he never tried organized gymnastics as a kid, but he thought about it.It was more climbing trees, messing around, jumping on a trampoline he said.Trampoline? Really? Hey Timmy, you do realize that trampoline is an Olympic event, right?Noooo.its not, Lincecum said. Seriously?Seriously.

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.”


Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants were annoyed by Monday’s “rubbing teammates the wrong way” report for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list was the fact that the target, Mark Melancon, has been pitching hurt to try and help a last-place team. That’s no longer the case. 

Melancon went on the DL on Wednesday morning and later had a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his right arm to try and ease some of the discomfort in his pronator. He is expected to be out the rest of the first half. Melancon would be eligible to return with two games left until the break, but there’s no point in rushing him. He missed 12 games the first time this came up and he now has more than two weeks to rest before the second half kicks off. 

In the meantime, Sam Dyson is the closer, but he was unavailable Wednesday because of a heavy workload. So Bruce Bochy got creative to close out a 5-3 win over the Rockies. George Kontos came on for a sharp Ty Blach in the seventh and carried the lead to the eighth. Steven Okert got through the 26th out and Hunter Strickland came in to get Ian Desmond to fly out for his first save of the year. 

Because Bochy wanted Kontos to face Pat Valaika in the eighth, he got an at-bat 15 hours after Cory Gearrin got to take his hacks. It at first looked like Kontos had “don’t swing” orders, but he fouled a ball off. 

“The second fastball I got, if it was near the plate, I was going to swing,” he said. 

Kontos said he doesn’t have bragging rights over Gearrin because he fouled a ball off, noting that Gearrin is 1 for 2 in his career and he is 0 for 8. It turns out that they used the same bat, too. Yes, there is a Cory Gearrin model.

“It’s just been hanging out since last year,” Gearrin said, looking down at his equipment bag. “Just in case.”

--- Dan Slania woke up a 4:30, drove to Philadelphia, and boarded a flight that was went down through Nashville to fuel up. He arrived in San Francisco in time for the second inning. And then he watched, met with old teammates, showered … and prepared to fly all the way back to Pennsylvania. 

“I’m going to pass out as soon as I get on the plane,” Slania said. 

He wasn’t complaining at all. The Giants needed a potential innings-eater with Melancon on the DL, and if Slania is sent back down before Friday’s game, he’ll at least be back near Double-A Richmond and the flight back will have been taken on a chartered jet with a bunch of former teammates. Plus he gets a couple of service days. 

“I can tell you it’s well worth it,” Bochy said. 

--- The main story today is about Jae-gyun Hwang, who brought some more life to a team that got its first sweep of the year. The standings are what they are, but the Giants are playing much better, and some players started talking Wednesday about how they’re looking forward to being a spoiler for teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks. 

More than anything, the players are just happy that they got to listen to the victory soundtrack again and walk out of this park with smiles. 

“We did a really good job of coming into this series and decided what the intent should be,” Nick Hundley said. “We weren’t going to worry about what’s been going on. You control what you can control. It’s nice when the results match up.”

There was a players-only meeting on Monday and Hundley said “everybody got on the same page again.”

Now the tricky part: Keeping it going on the road. 

--- Nolan Arenado is a freak and the Giants should give him a blank check, a ton of Facebook stock, and the rights to the Salesforce building when he’s a free agent in two and a half seasons. 

--- Ryder Jones is hitless in 16 at-bats but he was keeping his head up. He was an inch or two from a double down the line Wednesday and the Giants feel he’s having good at-bats. More than anything, he's not taking those results into the field and he talked about that at length when we sat down for a podcast the other day. If you subscribe on iTunes here, you’ll have it in the morning.