Giants

Giants split; beat Brewers, fall to Angels

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Giants split; beat Brewers, fall to Angels

BOX SCORE
SCOTTSDALE -- Barry Zito is happy with the progress he's made so far this spring.He allowed one hit in three scoreless innings and the San Francisco Giants earned a 13-3 win over the Milwaukee Brewers in a split-squad game on Saturday.The left-hander threw 30 strikes out of 45 pitches.Zito, who made some changes to his delivery over the winter, said he didn't feel quite as good as the results today, but he's had a strong spring. He's given up two runs in five innings."Every day I'm trying to take it one day at a time, and not get ahead of myself," Zito said.Pablo Sandoval doubled and homered in the Giants' eight-run third inning. It was his first homer of the spring.The Giants had 16 hits, including three homers. Prospect Tommy Joseph hit two homers and drove in four runs.NEWS: Wilson set to make Cactus League debut Sunday
Milwaukee's Mat Gamel, who is taking over at first this season after the departure of Prince Fielder, hit his third homer of the spring, a three-run shot in the fourth inning.Also, Milwaukee's Nyjer Morgan left the game in the second inning as a precaution after he was hit in the helmet by a pitch in the first.Shortstop Brandon Crawford doubled and tripled and had 3 RBIs for San Francisco. He's 6-for-14 with six RBIs this spring."I think really he's going to help contribute to this offense," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He made a couple adjustments with his swing. He's shortened it up. It allows him to get to balls he wasn't able to get to before."RELATED: Zito self-critical despite improvement in second start
Crawford batted .204 as a rookie last year. But that swing adjustment he made late in the regular season also carried over to the Arizona Fall League.And now he's off to a strong start in the spring."I've played well the last couple of seasons whenever I've made that small change, and I'm doing well here to start out," he said. "It's definitely good for the confidence."Notes: San Francisco's Buster Posey reported feeling fine a day after his first game action of the spring. Posey is scheduled to start again on Sunday, catching four innings. Posey missed most of last season after injuring his left knee in a home plate collision. ... Reliever Brian Wilson is scheduled to make his spring debut on Sunday. Wilson has been out because of a sore elbow. ... Freddy Sanchez will not make his spring debut in the field until Wednesday or Thursday. Bochy had said on Friday that Sanchez could play second as soon as Monday, but the manager said he was mistaken and that the plan was never for Sanchez to play that soon. ... Wily Peralta, considered the top prospect in the Brewers' system, gave up four runs in 2 13 innings in his first start of the spring. ... Caleb Gindl had two hits to raise his spring average to .417.
BOX SCORETEMPE -- The Los Angeles Angels are going to try Mark Trumbo at a couple different spots so they can get his bat into their powerful lineup.It looks as if third base could be an option.Trumbo made a splendid diving grab to his left in the second inning Saturday, robbing Joaquin Arias of a single during the Angels' 9-5 victory over a split-squad of San Francisco Giants."You don't call it the hot corner for nothing," Trumbo said.Trumbo also homered and C.J. Wilson pitched three scoreless innings in his second spring outing for Los Angeles, which gave the left-hander a 77.5 million, five-year deal during free agency over the winter. Wilson allowed one hit, struck out two and walked one.With Albert Pujols set to play first and first baseman-designated hitter Kendrys Morales expected to return to the lineup soon, the Angels are searching for ways to find time for Trumbo. He led the team with 29 homers and 87 RBIs during his rookie year last season.NEWS: Freddy Sanchez's defensive debut delayed
The plan is for Trumbo to play in 50 games at third to go along with time at first, DH and right field.Trumbo, who had yet to have a ball hit to him in one start at third, made a great play on Arias' ball and also handled one ground ball flawlessly."More challenging plays will help me get my confidence," Trumbo said. "Some of that stuff will take some time."Peter Bourjos and Erick Aybar, hitting first and second respectively, utilized their speed to set up a pair of Angels run in the first.Bourjos bounced a single to right field and Aybar followed with a sharp single to right. Bourjos opted to test the throwing arm of Giants right fielder Tyler Graham and raced to third. Graham's throw was slightly late and Aybar took second.Bourjos then scored in Howie Kendrick's fly ball to right field with Aybar taking third. Aybar then narrowly scored on Trumbo's foul popup behind third, beating Conor Gillaspie's throw that short-hopped catcher Eli Whiteside.Angels manager Mike Scioscia has said this spring that he could "mix and match" a set of players to hit in front of Pujols in the third slot but is hoping to settle on two.Bourjos has been mentioned as a leadoff candidate. He hit .289 and had a .337 on-base percentage against left-handers last season while hitting .271 overall with a .327 on-base percentage.Aybar, the team's usual leadoff man last season, hit .279 with a .322 on-base percentage, but only .216 with a .284 on-base percentage against left-handers.Giants right-hander Shane Loux pitched 2 1-3 innings and was charged with three runs, two earned, and four hits. He hasn't appeared in the majors since he went 2-3 with a 5.86 ERA in 18 games with the Angels in 2009.NOTES: Angels 3B Luis Jimenez also hit his first spring homer. ... Angels reliever LaTroy Hawkins made his first spring appearance and gave up three runs and four hits in one inning.

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

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AP

Gary Brown never recovered on the field from 2015 DFA: ‘Hurt me to my core’

There was a time when Gary Brown was considered the Giants’ top prospect – their center fielder of the future. Hype was never higher than in 2011, when the fleet-footed 22-year-old set a franchise record with 188 hits in 131 games, earning California League Rookie of the Year honors with the San Jose Giants in his first full minor league campaign.

But six seasons and seven major league at-bats later, Brown’s professional baseball career ended at 28 years old.

“I feel like I let my emotions get the best of me in the years after that (2011 season),” Brown told NBC Sports Bay Area in an exclusive phone interview. “I think I started to believe the hype that everyone started to give to me.”

Brown never matched his magical .336-season in High-A ball with 14 home runs plus 53 stolen bases, and then struggled finding a routine with the rigors of the Pacific Coast League’s travel schedule once he reached Triple-A. Despite three hits in his seven at-bats as a September call-up with the Giants in 2014, Brown was designated for assignment on March 31, 2015.

Brown’s career spiraled playing the draining waiver game. Unsuccessful stints with the Cardinals and Angels sent Brown to the land of the last chance: Independent ball in the Atlantic League.

“It was not fun for me for quite a few years. I wasn’t a very happy person,” Brown said. “After I got DFA'd by the Giants, that really took a toll on me. I never really recovered from that, so I was kind of stuck in the past and things kind of just got away from me. 

“I was kind of heartbroken to be honest. I mean, it hurt me to my core.”

Through tumultuous career turns, the Southern California native never turned on the team that drafted him 24th overall in 2010.

“I'm thankful for the opportunity the Giants gave me. No matter how big or small mine was, I am very thankful” Brown said emphatically. “I definitely wish I could have shown what I feel like my true potential was, but it didn't work out that way. 

“I still root for the Giants. All my friends with the Giants, I'm still pulling for them. They run that organization so well. I have no ill intentions or anything bad to say about the Giants organization.” 

Far removed from his days with the Giants, Brown found new life with the Southern Maryland Blue Crabs in 2016. Brown batted .249 and returned to the team in 2017. He started strong with a .298 batting average in 31 games while having fun for the first time in years, but injuries struck at an inopportune time.

Chronic aches in his hip joints and intense back spasms, in addition to a frustrating lack of interest from MLB teams and the fact he and his wife had twins on the way, spurred Brown to retirement in the middle of the season on July 5.

“Retirement has nothing to do with the lack of competitiveness (of the Atlantic League). It was the distance and the time away, matching the minor league salary,” Brown said. “Going back to that makes it really hard on the family and when you get older it really becomes about what you value more.”

The player he once was is gone, but the person he is has only grown. There’s one piece of advice which goes beyond the diamond that Brown was sure to pass on to the next wave of future top Giants prospects.

“Never stop making adjustments,” Brown said ruefully.

Days away from turning 29 on Sept. 28 and out of baseball for the first time in his life, Brown is certainly making his own.

***

Part 2 of our interview with Gary Brown focusing on where he is now in his life will be released Friday on NBCSportsBayArea.com.

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

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AP

Matt Moore blanks Rockies, continues late-season surge

SAN FRANCISCO — Matt Moore knew there was something different about his final home start at AT&T Park this season, and not just the fact that he received a loud ovation as he walked off the mound in the seventh. Moore noted later that the outing was the first shutout he has been a part of this year. In fact, it was the first time in 30 starts that he walked off the mound without having allowed a run. 

“I guess it’s better late than never,” he said. 

The Giants are hoping it’s actually a preview of things to come. They counted on Moore to be a big part of their 2017 push, but instead, he likely will finish with the worst ERA of any full-time starter in the National League. Still, general manager Bobby Evans has informed Moore that his 2018 option will be picked up, something that Moore appreciated given the time of year. 

“I always pictured myself here,” he said. 

Whether coincidence or some kind of “weight off the shoulders” situation, Moore’s first start since the public revealing of the decision was his most encouraging of the year. Facing a good lineup, and a team that needed a win desperately, he pitched six shutout innings. The Giants beat the Rockies 4-0. 

Moore was already showing signs of life, with a 3.76 ERA over his seven previous appearances. Bruce Bochy viewed this as another step forward. 

“It’s been getting better and better with each start,” he said. “What he did really well today was on the arm side. He had good balance to both sides of the plate.”

Moore peppered the outside corner with fastballs, and he credited catcher Nick Hundley with stealing a few strikes. The plan allowed Moore to put hitters away in big spots, one of three points of emphasis he brought into the second half. The other two: limiting lefties and getting ahead of hitters.

That’s Moore’s roadmap back to being the player the Giants acquired. For the team as a whole, the roadmap back to relevance is similar to Wednesday’s plan. This is not a home-run hitting lineup, but the Giants are 47-21 when scoring four runs, and Wednesday was a reminder of the different paths to that magical number. 

Brandon Crawford had a solo homer, but the first two runs came on sacrifice flies and the fourth on a walk-wild pitch-single combination. Bochy said he liked “the brand of ball” his team played.

“They executed so well today,” he said. “It’s just good baseball, and that’s what I felt good about.”