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.

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."