Giants won't make it official yet, but Span will play center


Giants won't make it official yet, but Span will play center

SAN FRANCISCO — Social media has led to some awkward moments for teams recently. Coaches sometimes find out over the phone that they’re getting fired, and players often hear the news of trades and deals on Twitter before a team official can dial their number.

The Giants go out of their way to avoid such instances, and thus Denard Span was introduced to the media Friday and was never explicitly called the team’s opening day center fielder or leadoff hitter. Bruce Bochy won’t make that declaration before speaking to Angel Pagan, the incumbent, and the two have only been able to exchange texts in recent days.

You didn’t need a public declaration, though: Denard Span will be the center fielder, and he will hit atop the lineup.

In his opening remarks, Bochy noted Span’s ability in center and hitting leadoff. Later, he was asked directly about his opening day lineup.

[RELATED: Krukow: Denard Span 'the whole package' for Giants]

“I always like to get with my players when there could be a change or a tweak,” Bochy said. “It’s a very workable situation. (Span is) one of the best center fielders in the game and as I mentioned, a proven leadoff hitter. I would like to, out of respect, touch base with Angel.”

Span’s agent, Scott Boras, marketed him as a premier leadoff hitter and center fielder, saying he’s “like a defensive back” when he breaks on a ball and comparing him to Jacoby Ellsbury. Asked about the crowded outfield market, Boras said Span was in a different lane. “The difference is he’s a leadoff hitter and a center fielder," Boras added.

Span has made 778 out of his 923 career starts in center, but he let others speak to the situation Friday.

“I told Boch I’ll do whatever,” he said. “I’ve been a center fielder for a lot of my career. Center field is sentimental to me, but at the same time, I’m at the stage of my career where I want to do whatever it takes to help me win a championship. If that means me being in center field, I’ll take that with pride and will do the best I can. If they need me in left field, if they need me to catch for Buster a couple of games, I’ll do that as well.”

The Giants, in chasing Span, never even discussed a move to left, and now it will be up to Bochy to smooth things over with Pagan, who takes great pride in playing center and hitting atop the lineup. They made one change last year when Nori Aoki took the No. 1 spot, but a move to left will be complicated by the fact that Pagan is entering his contract year. He wants to play center, but for his sake, showing the ability to be a plus or average defender in left instead of a below-average one in center may help his cause. It will certainly help the Giants. 

With Span in center, the Giants will be as strong up the middle as any team in the National League. Brandon Crawford is a Gold Glove winner at short, Joe Panik likely would have been a finalist had he not gotten hurt, and Buster Posey should unseat Yadier Molina one of these years and win his first Gold Glove. Span was a Gold Glove finalist for the Nationals in 2013 and 2014.

“We’re set everywhere right now,” Bochy said. “Usually you go to spring training and you have some question marks, but across the infield and outfield this is as set as we’ve been. And not just set, but as good a defensive club as I’ve ever had. If we all play up to our capabilities, I think we have a chance to be one of the best defensive teams in baseball.”

It shouldn't be long before the Giants make the outfield changes official, but just in case, one last hint was dropped Friday afternoon. About an hour after his press conference, team officials led Span onto the field at AT&T Park to take some shots in his new No. 2 Giants jersey. The photo shoot took place in center field.

Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate


Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate

SACRAMENTO -- A young man named Clayton Blackburn walked into the home clubhouse at Raley Field on Tuesday decked out in Round Rock gear. 

"You're here for my start?" he said, smiling.

Sorry, Clayton, I was on Panda Watch for two days. But it was fun watching Blackburn, DFA’d in a weird move earlier this year, face former teammates. Blackburn hasn't had a great season with Texas, but he is still just 24 and he has gotten into terrific shape. Given what happened during his call-up last year, you should root for him to get a second chance. 

Blackburn gave up three runs over six innings against his former team. The River Cats won on Jarrett Parker’s walk-off homer to dead center with two outs in the ninth. Parker was one of many familiar faces in the lineup Tuesday. Here are some thoughts on guys you know, and guys you will: 

--- Trevor Brown is the backup catcher in Sacramento, which is certainly a fall from his run as Buster Posey's backup. Brown is batting .168 in what has been a very frustrating season for him. The groin injury that slowed him early lingered, he had a concussion, and he hasn't been able to find any BABIP luck. This year seems a lost one for a guy who was a big part of 2016. I’m still intrigued by his versatility.

--- Chris Shaw is the latest podcast guest. You can stream it here. We talked about his power, his move to left, thinking he was a Ray, and more. I didn't see many at-bats, but I saw enough in left field to be confident he'll be fine out there. 

--- Parker started in center field and made a nice running catch at the wall. He wouldn't hold up as a big league center fielder, but perhaps the Giants should throw him out there a few times down the stretch to see if he can be a backup option next season. Parker said he finally found his swing over the past few games. His rehab assignment ends in about a week, and he’s expected back in San Francisco. 

--- Reyes Moronta, who spent a day in the majors in May, was promoted to Triple-A. In his first inning, Drew Stubbs took him deep. I found that quirky. It's been a long season with far too many transactions. 

--- If Steven Duggar would stay healthy, he would probably make it up to SF in September. Unfortunately, his hamstring was tight again this week, keeping him out of San Jose’s lineup for a few days. Speaking of health: Tyler Beede’s groin injury will keep him out longer than just the standard DL time … Melvin Upton Jr. is still in Sacramento rehabbing a shoulder injury, but he’s not throwing yet so it’s hard to picture him making any noise before September call-up time …Christian Arroyo is in Arizona rehabbing from hand surgery. 

--- Derek Law was smiling because Derek Law is always smiling. He has a 4.32 ERA but said he feels much better than those results. “My slider is back,” Law said. He should be, too, when the Giants expand their roster. There are some other interesting relievers in Sacramento. A first baseman told me opposing hitters grumble about facing D.J. Snelten (1.84 ERA) and Tyler Rogers has a 1.94 ERA as a dirt-scraping right-hander. 

--- A teammate predicted Carlos Moncrief would hit .270 in the big leagues if called up, and he ended up getting that call Wednesday morning. Moncrief is a fun clubhouse addition. He gave Sandoval some good-natured heckling for talking to reporters after going 1 for 4. 

--- The Giants have had a lot of veterans visit San Jose this season. They all bought the postgame spread, but word around the block is that Madison Bumgarner provided the best meal. He had steak and lobster delivered to San Jose Muni. 

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Eduardo Nuñez left San Francisco in a strange way. The third baseman was traded in the middle of Tuesday night’s game and mostly said his goodbyes in a stairwell behind the home dugout at AT&T Park. Before joining the Red Sox, Nuñez took to his social media pages to send a message to the Giants and their fans. 

On Twitter, Nuñez thanked the organization for “the great opportunity and experiences learned” and wished the team the best of luck. His Instagram message was a bit longer. 

“I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing team,” Nuñez wrote. “I value the experiences learned during my time here and I will miss my teammates, the fans, and the beautiful city of San Francisco very much. Best wishes to the Giants organization during the rest of this season. God Bless.”

Nuñez is expected to join the Red Sox on Friday. Boston’s manager, John Farrell, told reporters that his new infielder will get “a high number of at-bats” despite the presence of top prospect Rafael Devers. 

"This is someone who's swinging the bat very well right now,” Farrell said, according to "A high energy player that can run the bases well. He’s got really good line drive power so his .300-plus batting average to mix into this lineup is a good addition."