Giants fan feels whole by returning Pence's broken bat


Giants fan feels whole by returning Pence's broken bat

SAN FRANCISCO The most famous broken bat in Giantsfranchise history sat in Rick Alagnas house in Pleasanton. But the 57-year-oldsoftware engineer knew there was only one way he could feel whole.

Im going to say goodbye to the collectible of all collectibles,said Alagna, still startled at how he came to obtain a venerated piece offranchise lore.

"My son, J.D., said, You know, Dad, you really should givethat bat back to Hunter Pence. I thought, Hey, Im the dad. Ive got to dowhats right.

So Alagna is bringing the bat every splinter of it toAT&T Park for Game 1 of the World Series Wednesday night. Hes not surewhether hell deliver it to a club official or to Pence himself, but he knowsit will end up in the right place.

Really? said Pence, told the bat was on its way. Thatsawesome.

Pence names all his bats and scribbles it on the end cap.This one was called Fryer. It turned the Cardinals into dead birds all right,when he somehow made contact three times as a Joe Kelly fastball cracked thewood where the honey-colored handle met the black barrel. The bat head kissedthe ball twice more, imparting a crazy spin that deked shortstop Pete Kozma fora bases-clearing double in the Giants 9-0 victory.

REWIND: The Giants win the pennant

Pence also hit his home run in St. Louis with the same bat,so he already considered it a keeper. He was mortified -- along with almosteveryone else in the Giants organization -- when he found out that the club soldthe bat at their From the Clubhouse memorabilia stand in the teams DugoutStore.
RELATED: Giants accidentally sell Pence's historic bat

Game-used and authenticated items are put on sale almostimmediately after theyre taken out of play. Its usually run-of-the-millstuff. Whomever cleared the Pence bat to be sold clearly didnt think about itssignificance -- an almost magic relic from the only Game 7 victory in thefranchises 130-year history.

Alagna knew plenty of interesting stuff might come up forauction from the third inning, when the Giants sent 11 men to the plate. He wasstunned when he saw the Pence bat for sale, marked at 400, along with the ballhe hit for the triple-double, for 150.

Items arent auctioned. They are simply priced, and iftheres more than one interested party, they put names in a hat.

I put my name in the hat for the bat with 10 other guys andthey pulled my name out, Alagna said. I went wild. I thought, Well, Ive gotthe bat. Ill try for the ball, too.

There were 15 names in for the ball, and out of 15, theypulled my number. I mean, can you believe it? I thought, What are the odds?Its just insane.

Naturally, Alagna tried to press his luck.

Tuesday morning, I bought Lotto tickets on the way towork, he said, laughing. Well see how that turns out.

Alagna planned to give the Pence bat to his oldest son,Mike, as a Christmas present. A first-time season ticket holder, he saidbaseball has done wonders to bond with his three boys.

Kyle, our youngest, is an As fan, Alagna said. So wedont count him.

But when Pence asked about the bats whereabouts, the Giantsknew they had a problem on their hands. CEO Larry Baer turned sheet-white whentold the bat had been sold. When Alagna saw the coverage it wasgenerating, he called GregMarinec, who manages his season-ticket account, and told him hed like toreturn the bat.

If he wants the ball, he can have that, too, Alagna said. Itsbetter as a matching set, right?

Hell meet Giants vice president Staci Slaughter at the gametoday, and the team is planning on rolling out the red carpet for him. Alagnasaid he wasnt going to make any demands of Pence or the team.

But after all this dies down, Id love to have my boys meetHunter Pence, Alagna said, and Ill drag my wife along too.

People are telling me, You're stupid. You should sell itfor huge money. But you cant do the wrong thing. Youd feel more stupid fordoing that. Where would that money take me?

Does Alagna consider it a magic bat?

Well, I dont know if its magic, but its got mojo, hesaid. Im a little superstitious right now. Maybe itll give them a littlemojo for tonight.

Jones finally gets the call, will be Giants' everyday third baseman for now

Jones finally gets the call, will be Giants' everyday third baseman for now

SAN FRANCISCO — Ryder Jones is 23 years old and Christian Arroyo just turned 22, so when Jones got the call to the big leagues, the first step in the preparation process was about what you would expect. Jones and Arroyo fired up the PlayStation and Arroyo started pumping pitches as Jacob deGrom, the starter Jones will face in his debut Saturday. 

“I faced him last night and got a hit and a pop-up,” Jones said, smiling. 

The real thing will be considerably tougher, but Jones said he’s looking forward to the challenge, noting that deGrom will help make his debut that much more memorable. The Giants are looking forward to the debut, too. Jones is a player Bruce Bochy has been eyeing for a while, and he has finally been deemed ready. 

While Eduardo Nuñez is on the disabled list, Jones will be the everyday third baseman. He’s hitting seventh Saturday, one spot ahead of 24-year-old Austin Slater. Arroyo is sidelined by a bone bruise but he should join the other two at some point later this season. 

“Unfortunately we’ve put ourselves in a position here (with our record) where we’re going to look at younger players, but the good thing is that these guys are going to get a chance to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “They’re going to get some playing time. I look forward to watching him play.”

Jones took Aaron Hill’s roster spot after the veteran was designated for assignment. Bochy said Hill was one of his favorite players to manage, noting his professionalism and solid at-bats, despite the .132 average. He hopes Hill gets a shot on a contender, but that won’t be the case in San Francisco this year, and the Jones promotion was the latest indication that a rebuild/reload is underway. 

Drafted in the second round in 2013 — one round after Arroyo — Jones can play third, first and left field. He has more power than most in the farm system, and he’s athletic enough to handle three spots. The Giants will live with the mistakes at third for now, hopeful that the big arm can stick there. 

Jones was batting .299 with 10 homers and 16 doubles in 53 games for the River Cats. The knock on him has always been a lack of patience at the plate, but he has upped his on-base percentage to .390, a jump of 99 points from his 2016 season in Double-A. In June, Jones had put together a .343/.450/.701 slash line. 

“Patience at the plate is the biggest thing for me,” he said. “If you look at all my years in the minors, I was a little aggressive and antsy. You learn as you get older that you have to pick a pitch you can drive.”

The new approach has Jones in a big league lineup -- the real thing, not the video game version. He went millennial with his preparation, but his promotion was as old-school as it gets. The River Cats have a doubleheader Saturday and when Jones reached third base in Friday night’s game, manager Dave Brundage told him he would get one of the two games off. 

“I told him I could play two,” Jones said. “I know we have some older guys there.”

Brundage called him in later and told him he would only be playing the night game on Saturday. 

“But you’ll be in San Francisco,” the manager added. 

Jones called his parents, who will be in attendance, along with his brother and girlfriend. Then he fired up the PlayStation, packed, and prepared for a short flight to San Francisco. He was still so fired up Saturday morning that he couldn’t handle more than a 30-minute nap. 

“I didn’t know what time I could come to the park,” he said. “I couldn’t sleep.”

Giants lineup: Ryder Jones hitting seventh in MLB debut vs Mets

Giants lineup: Ryder Jones hitting seventh in MLB debut vs Mets

Called up on Saturday morning, Ryder Jones will man the hot corner and bat seventh in his MLB debut against the Mets.

New York Mets:
1. Curtis Granderson (L) CF
2. Asdrubal Cabrera (S) 2B
3. Yoenis Cespedes (R) LF
4. Jay Bruce (L) RF
5. Lucas Duda (L) 1B
6. Wilmer Flores (R) 3B
7. Travis d'Arnaud (R) C
8. Jose Reyes (S) SS
9. Jacob deGrom (L) P

San Francisco Giants:
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Austin Slater (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P