Giants

Giants spring training Day 26: Alguacil visits clubhouse, says he feels great

Giants spring training Day 26: Alguacil visits clubhouse, says he feels great

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jose Alguacil survived a scare and he's feeling strong, which means enough time has passed that his facial fractures are fair game in the clubhouse.

"You look better than you did before," a Giant said Friday as he hugged Alguacil. 

The first base coach laughed and smiled, and then continued greeting a line of players and coaches.

"I'm feeling great," he said. "There's no pain."

Alguacil has a shiner where the ball broke his nose and bandage over the minor facial fractures that are still healing. He is dealing with some blurred vision, and he won't know an exact return date until his next visit with an eye doctor, but he said he should be back at the job in a week to 10 days. That's the absolute best-case scenario after Alguacil was hit by a foul ball that went screaming into the folding chairs set out for coaches at Surprise Stadium. 

Alguacil had surgery and spent several nights in the hospital, but he said it won't be long before he's back throwing BP. He won't even need a new pair of glasses. The original pair was knocked off by the blow and left a deep gash across his forehead. 

"They didn't break," he said, smiling. "They're back there in my locker."

GAME RECAP: Madison Bumgarner pitched four innings, allowing just a pair of unearned runs, but the Giants lost to the Indians ... Brandon Belt hit his 25th career spring training home run ... Jimmy Rollins pulled a Trevor Bauer pitch into the bullpen area for his first homer as a Giant ... Chris Marrero had two more hits, including a hard triple to right, but he wasn't able to pull out another walk-off when he came up with two outs in the ninth. He struck out looking ... Kelby Tomlinson had a pair of hits ... Derek Law had a rough one, allowing two runs on two hits and three walks. 

CUETO WATCH: Johnny Cueto will start Saturday's game at Scottsdale Stadium but he'll only pitch an inning or two in his debut. Matt Cain will back him up, with Ty Blach starting the other half of the split-squad up the road. 

RED, WHITE AND BLUE: Mark Melancon and Jeff Samardzija have been added to the United States roster for the World Baseball Classic, and it sounds like Melancon will be part of that bullpen as early as the second round. Here's a full story.

ICYMI: The latest podcast featured interviews with Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here.

FAMILIAR FACE: If you were watching really random WBC action the other day, you might have seen former Giant Travis Blackley pitching for Australia. 

QUOTABLE: "Why not, right?" -- Melancon on dropping a two-strike curveball for an inning-ending strikeout with the bases loaded.

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.”