Giants

Giants spring training Day 4: Hwang hopes power translates

Giants spring training Day 4: Hwang hopes power translates

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jae-gyun Hwang started preparing for his first big league camp a year before he signed with the Giants. Hwang is YouTube-famous for his spectacular bat flips, but after hearing that American pitchers don't react well to showmanship, he quit cold turkey.

"I told him you have to stop," his agent, Han Lee, said Thursday. "He initially didn't think it was possible."

Hwang smiled as the story was told. 

"All 27 homers I hit last season, I didn't do a single bat flip," he said through interpreter Mark Kim.

The Giants would be just fine with a bat flip or two if it meant Hwang was doing what is anticipated. They brought him here to be a power threat, either at third base or off the bench, and it turns out this is a marriage that's been telegraphed for quite some time.

Hwang chose the Giants in part because of how much interest they have shown over the years. Multiple Giants scouts watched him last season in Korea and five front office employees -- including John Barr -- attended a showcase event in Florida. Hwang signed a minor league deal in January that will guarantee him $1.5 million plus incentives if he’s on the big league roster. 

"I wanted the opportunity to compete at the highest level," Hwang said. "Ever since I was little that was the dream, to be able to play in the major leagues. When the opportunity came I had to seize it."

Giants officials had been receiving positive reports on Hwang for years, and their belief in him was bolstered by the success of other Korean players who came over to MLB, particularly Pittsburgh’s Jung Ho Kang and Baltimore’s Hyun Soo Kim. 

“I’ve seen video and he’s got a great swing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You see with your eyes that he’s got a great swing and that swing will work.”

The push for a roster spot will be about more than just the transition to facing MLB pitching. Hwang has primarily been a third baseman in his career but he said he has worked out at other positions to prepare for a camp competition. He brought three gloves to Scottsdale, one for third, one for first base, and one for the outfield.

“We’d like to create some versatility with him,” Bochy said. 

If Hwang doesn't make the team out of camp, he said he will go to Triple-A. His contract includes an opt-out at the end of March.

"A lot of people assume that if he doesn't make (the opening day roster) he's going to run back to Korea," Lee said. "That's not his mentality."

Hwang said he talked to former Giant Ryan Sadowkski -- now a scout for the Lotte Giants -- about the Giants and the big leagues. He mentioned being eager to meet Buster Posey and Hunter Pence, and said he's excited about playing defense behind Madison Bumgarner. More than anything, he's ready to see how his game translates.

"What I'm most curious and excited about is to face the best of major league pitching and see and feel their pitches firsthand," he said.

ICYMI: The other big story from Day 4 was the arrival of Mike Morse. Here's my feature about Morse and the entertaining way he found his way back to the Giants. I will say, the Giants have to be more optimistic about Morse's chances than they were when the deal was first offered. He's really in great shape, and it's not hard to picture him smashing a couple out of Scottsdale Stadium this spring and reminding Bochy what it's like to have a right-handed threat off the bench. 

ICYMI PART II: From yesterday, a podcast with Tyler Beede. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here.

HELPING HAND: I wrote yesterday about Trevor Brown playing second base this spring. He was surprised by the Nick Hundley signing, but he at least found the right place to go after being told to add versatility. Brown got an infield glove from two-time Gold Glove winner Brandon Crawford. 

FAMILIAR FACE: I'm simply the messenger, but if you can handle it, here's Sergio Romo in Dodger blue.  At some point, we're going to see Romo at AT&T Park in that jersey. Luckily for Giants fans, it never happened with Morse. He spent a few hours as a Dodger in 2015 during a flurry of trades, but he never suited up for Los Angeles. Morse did however find quite a bit of humor in the situation, so he ordered a Dodgers "Morse" jersey. "I had to," he said laughing. "I framed it."

QUOTABLE: "I would be curious how good his knuckleball is. I haven't seen it, but he used to mess around with it," Bochy on Brian Wilson. (That's one comeback you shouldn't expect.)

Giants hammer Taillon, return favor with 11-3 win over Pirates

Giants hammer Taillon, return favor with 11-3 win over Pirates

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants pitcher Madison Bumgarner saw no reason to make a big deal over his first win of the year, even if it came far deeper into the season than anyone expected.

In a season that long ago spun out of control for both San Francisco and its ace, Bumgarner was happier seeing the struggling Giants have one of their best games of the year.

Bumgarner allowed one run over five innings for his first win of the season, and the Giants beat the Pittsburgh Pirates 11-3 on Tuesday night.

"It was nice to be on the board now individually," Bumgarner said. "But that's not what it's about. It's about us winning games, and we played really good tonight."

Eduardo Nunez drove in two runs in his final game with San Francisco as he was traded to Boston for two minor leaguers. The veteran infielder was pulled in the fifth inning and was later seen on television shaking hands with several teammates in the Giants' clubhouse. The deal was announced after a few minutes after the final out.

Bumgarner also singled and scored, Buster Posey had three hits and an RBI and Joe Panik added a bases-loaded triple as struggling San Francisco won for only the fifth time in 16 games.

Josh Harrison singled twice for the Pirates, who fell behind 9-0 and couldn't recover. Pittsburgh stranded seven runners in the first five innings, including four in scoring position.

Making his third start since coming off the disabled list after nearly three months following a dirt bike accident in Colorado on April 20, Bumgarner (1-4) was mostly sharp while quieting a potent Pittsburgh lineup and ending the Pirates' seven-game winning streak at AT&T Park.

Three years after pitching a complete game to beat Pittsburgh in the NL wild card on his way to winning the 2014 World Series MVP, Bumgarner pitched out of a pair of early jams, allowed six hits and had four strikeouts.

"He did a nice job," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said. "I'm sure he's glad to get that (first win) taken care of. Once he went five that was enough."

It's the first win by a Giants starting pitcher since July 5.

Jameson Taillon (6-4) took the loss, giving up 10 runs in three innings.

"I didn't make good pitches once they got runners on," Taillon said. "They didn't waste any time. They had a merry-go-round going."

UMPIRE GOES DOWN:
Posey lined a single that hit second base umpire Ed Hickox in the foot and knocked him down in the fifth inning. Hickox slowly got to his feet and was attended to by a member of the Giants medical staff but remained in the game.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Giants: RHP Johnny Cueto may need to make a rehab start before rejoining the rotation. Cueto has been hindered by blisters on multiple fingers of his pitching hand, an issue that has lingered for much of the past month. The right-hander played catch from 105 feet before the game. Pablo Sandoval moved from Single-A San Jose to Triple-A Sacramento as he continues to try to work his way back into the big leagues. RHP Chris Stratton was recalled from Sacramento and IF Orlando Calixte was optioned down.

UP NEXT:
RHP Jeff Samardzija (4-11, 5.05 ERA) pitches the finale for the Giants seeking to beat Pittsburgh for the second time this season while RHP Trevor Williams (4-4, 4.74 ERA) takes the mound for the Pirates looking for his fourth win in the last five road starts.

Giants trade Eduardo Nunez to Red Sox

Giants trade Eduardo Nunez to Red Sox

Eduardo Nunez's time with the Giants is up as they have traded the third baseman to the Boston Red Sox.

The teams announced the trade shortly after the Giants beat the Pirates 11-3 on Tuesday night.

Fox Sports was the first to report the news.

The Giants will acquire minor league pitchers Shaun Anderson and Gregory Santos.

Anderson, Boston's third-round pick out of Florida in 2016, has a 3.42 ERA in 97.1 innings between Low-A Greenville and High-A Salem this season.

Santos, a 17-year-old right-handed pitcher, was signed by Boston out of the Dominican Republic in 2015. Pitching in the Dominican Summer League this season, Santos has allowed just three earned runs in 30 innings pitched.

Nunez was lifted for pinch-hitter in the bottom of the fifth inning Tuesday night and was seen hugging teammates as he left the dugout.

In 75 games with the Giants this season, Nunez hit .308/.334/.417 with 21 doubles, four home runs, 29 RBI and 17 stolen bases.

Nunez was acquired from the Twins last summer for two prospects.