Giants

Giants not concerned about stars playing in WBC

Giants not concerned about stars playing in WBC

SAN FRANCISCO — Before he officially committed to playing for Team USA in the upcoming World Baseball Classic, Brandon Crawford received a text from Colorado Rockies star Nolan Arenado.

“Come on, man. I really want to play with you. I want to play on the left side with you,” wrote Arenado, who shares an agent with Crawford. 

The two will team up this spring to form just about the most imposing infield duo imaginable. Arenado has won four straight Gold Glove Awards at third base. Crawford has two straight at shortstop. They’ll be side by side in the WBC, providing no daylight for grounders. For much of that run, Buster Posey will be calling the pitches 90 feet away. There’s a good chance, too, that the All-Star group will face Giants co-ace Johnny Cueto at some point. 

Given the importance of the three Giants playing, there’s reason for pause. But manager Bruce Bochy said he’s not concerned about the risk to his stars. Bochy recently talked to Team USA manager Jim Leyland about the way he will use Posey and Crawford. 

“He’s a guy that’s going to look out for players,” Bochy said. “It’s just who he is.”

There are rules in place to make sure everyone stays healthy in what is supposed to be an international showcase event for the sport. The biggest concerns have always been with pitching, but the WBC is played with expanded rosters and pitcher restrictions. The Giants are fine with Cueto representing the Dominican Republic, even though they watched last spring as the right-hander eased himself into the season. 

“Johnny has a way of pacing himself in games and as far as making sure he’s ready,” Bochy said. “Last year in the early part of the spring we slow-played him, but there he was. He was ready.”

The Giants learned during the season that Cueto will even pace himself during starts. He often takes it easy in the early innings, only to ramp up the fastball and intensity when he sniffs a complete game. The same is expected this spring. 

“He knows himself,” Bochy said, “And he knows his body.”

Cueto will not attend FanFest this weekend, but Crawford and Posey were both in the house for a media availability Friday and Posey downplayed any concerns.

“I’m looking forward to it,” Posey said. “It’ll definitely be different than any spring training I’ve been a part of. I started to get myself ready a little sooner. Nothing drastic, just maybe being a little more aggressive with my swings and throwing. But I think it’ll be fun, it’ll be a good experience for sure.

“I can understand (any concerns) but I think (fans) would also be frustrated if we didn’t have the Giants represented in some way. I think there are two sides to it. I can definitely understand that, but I think — I can’t speak for Craw or Cueto — but for myself I feel that I’ll be where I need to be, and having (three catchers) there I don’t expect it to be something where I’m catching every inning.”

Posey’s routine shouldn’t be drastically different from a normal spring. He generally doesn’t get many Arizona at-bats, so he should end up around the same range as always. Crawford did have to make a slight change this offseason after taking time the last two years to rest his throwing arm in February. Crawford told WBC organizers that he would pull out if any issues popped up, but he feels good on the eve of camp.

“My arm feels a lot better already than it did the last couple of years,” he said. “That’s a good sign.”

Even so, the Giants will take one more precaution. There was some surprise when the only other shortstop on the roster ended up being young Astros infielder Alex Bregman, who was drafted as a shortstop but moved to third base as he got to the big leagues. Bochy is expected to reach out to organizers to see if additional insurance might be added to make sure Crawford isn’t pushed too hard.

All three Giants are playing for teams that should go deep. Team USA is favored, and the Dominican is right behind the host country, according to oddsmakers. A different kind of title would be a nice way to start the odd year, but regardless, the players expect to take a lot away from the experience.

“It’s great for baseball,” Posey said. “For me, I think that’s part of it as well, just trying to help grow the game if I can.”

Unhappy Buster Posey bashes Phillies closer after hit-by-pitch

Unhappy Buster Posey bashes Phillies closer after hit-by-pitch

In what was set up to be a pivotal matchup of the game turned into a heated exchange.

Buster Posey stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday against Phillies closer Hector Neris.

But Posey never got to swing the bat. On the first pitch, Neris drilled the Giants catcher in the ribs with a 95 MPH fastball.

Posey whinced in pain and as he walked to first base, he appeared to ask Neris if the pitch was on purpose.

After the game, Posey was asked about the kerfuffle.

"I'm pretty certain he hit me on purpose. And it's just a shame because I wanted to compete that at-bat and he's got good stuff. But I guess he didn't feel like he couldn't get me out," Posey told reporters after the game.

Posey was asked if he could think of any incidents in previous games against the Phillies that could have led to the hit-by-pitch. He said no and asked the reporters if they could think of anything.

Posey's comments were brought to Neris after the game.

"It's stupid because nobody who watched that said, 'Oh he hit him on purpose in that situation,'" Neris told reporters, according to the Philly Inquirer.

Posey and Neris have faced each other just one time in the past. In the ninth inning of the June 3 matchup in Philadelphia, Posey flew out to left field.

Strickland hammered by Phils, Giants officially eliminated from NL West contention

Strickland hammered by Phils, Giants officially eliminated from NL West contention

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner pitched six innings in one of his best starts this season, took a line drive off his left shin and hit an RBI single that temporarily gave the Giants an early lead.

The reward? A heaping of praise from manager Bruce Bochy, handshakes from his teammates and another no-decision - Bumgarner's third in eight starts since coming off the disabled list.

Philadelphia rookie Rhys Hoskins homered again, Pedro Florimon contributed with his bat and arm, and the Phillies scored three runs in the eighth to beat the Giants 5-2 on Sunday.

In what has been a theme for San Francisco much of the season, Bumgarner's efforts were overshadowed by another meltdown from the Giants' bullpen.

"I thought it was a good day for Madison," Bochy said. "We had it lined up like we wanted as far as the bullpen. (Hunter Strickland) just had an off day making some mistakes."

Bumgarner allowed one run and four hits. He stayed in despite taking a sharp line drive off his left shin in the second inning by Nick Williams - earlier this month, Williams hit Mets ace Jacob deGrom in the triceps with a line drive, forcing him from the game.

"I tried to do a kick save but I wasn't very good at soccer," Bumgarner said. "It almost worked out."

Hoskins connected for a solo drive in the ninth inning, making him the first Phillies player in at least 100 years to hit five home runs in his first 11 major league games.

"I got to better counts, I think this week, and the results show," Hoskins said.

Florimon hit a two-run single off Strickland (2-3) to cap a three-run eighth inning that made it 4-2. Florimon also had an RBI double off Bumgarner in the second, then made a sparkling defensive play in left field to throw out Buster Posey at the plate in the bottom of the inning.

It was Florimon's first major league game in left field.

"I just try to catch the ball and throw the ball to home plate and see what happens," Florimon said. "I made a good throw."

Adam Morgan (2-1) retired three batters for the win, a day after throwing just one pitch and getting the victory.

Hector Neris pitched 1 1/3 innings for his 15th save. He struck out Pablo Sandoval with the bases loaded to end the eighth after hitting Posey in the back with a pitch, then fanned Denard Span with two on in the ninth to end it.

The Phillies won the season series against the Giants for the first time since 2011.

Philadelphia trailed 2-1 going into the eighth. Hoskins and Maikel Franco hit consecutive one-out singles before Jorge Alfaro tied it with an RBI single. After Williams singled to load the bases, Florimon slapped a 1-2 pitch into right field.

Posey had two hits and an RBI, extending his hitting streak against the Phillies to 22 games. Kelby Tomlinson scored a run and Ryder Jones doubled and scored for San Francisco.

PAINED POSEY:
Posey had a rough afternoon physically. In addition to taking a 95 mph fastball in the back, Posey also appeared to get hurt while tagging out a sliding Cameron Perkins at the plate in the second.

Afterward, the Giants' All-Star catcher voiced his displeasure about Neris.

"I'm certain that he hit me on purpose," Posey said. "It's just a shame because I wanted to compete that at-bat and he's got good stuff. But I guess he didn't feel like he could get me out."

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Giants 2B Joe Panik (concussion symptoms) continues to make steady progress and could come off the disabled list in time to join San Francisco on its upcoming road trip that begins Friday in Arizona.

UP NEXT:
Phillies: The team gets an off day before hosting Miami in a doubleheader Tuesday. RHP Dan Straily (7-8, 3.80 ERA) pitches in the first game and RHP Jose Urena (11-5, 3.61 ERA) goes in the nightcap.

Giants: RHP Chris Stratton (1-2, 4.91) faces Milwaukee on Monday.