Humbled Giants hope slumbering bats wake up on road trip

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Humbled Giants hope slumbering bats wake up on road trip

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SAN FRANCISCO The Giants marketing department is throwinga Slumber Party on the AT&T Park field Thursday night. The annual event comesat an appropriate time, since the Giants bats slumbered through the last twogames of a momentum-killing 10-game homestand, racking up just two runs onseven hits in back-to-back losses.The Giants are 32-23 at home and 24-26 on the road, but Bruce Bochy mayactually be looking forward to a seven-game road trip that starts Friday inColorado.Weve been awful here this past week, Bochy said. You getin these funks; theyre not fun. How we press on through these tough times willdetermine our season. Were in arut right now. Were not swinging the bats, our pitchings not quite as sharp.Youve got to regroup here and hopefully thats whats going to happen here onthe road.The Giants hit the road coming off one of a 9-1 loss, one oftheir ugliest of the season. In the first two innings, Barry Zito gave up fiveruns in two separate rallies that started with two outs and nobody on. The waythe Giants offense has been producing lately, even a stellar Zito startwouldnt have made much of a difference.We have to pick up the energy, everything, Bochy said. It was tough today.We got down early and just couldnt get much going with the bats. Really whathurt was the first five runs; theres two outs and nobody on. Its a tough wayto get started.A couple quick outs then those couple walks were thedifference there, Zito said of his two first-inning free passes that led tothe first two Mets runs. Youve got to bear down and put them away. But Idont think it was mental. I was fighting myself mechanically a little bit.That was the difference in the command today.Zito has now allowed 18 earned runs in the first inning ofhis 21 starts this season for an 8.10 ERA. He received a smattering of boos ashe walked back to the dugout in the middle of the fifth inning with the Giantstrailing 6-1. My timing was off so my command was erratic, Zito said.At times it was there, but at times the ball was up in the zone and I wasntcommanding the off-speed like I usually am.As bad as Zito was Thursday, the Giants lineup stole somenegative attention away from him. Take away Melky Cabreras three hits and theGiants were one-hit by Chris Young and two Ramirezes, Elvin and Ramon. Cabrerafinished a home run shy of the cycle and Brandon Belt had the only other hit, atriple that he may have had a chance to stretch into an inside-the-park homerun if not for a lackadaisical start out of the batters box. Cabrera scoredthe Giants lone run on a sacrifice fly off the bat of Hunter Pence, who isstill searching for his first hit since being traded to San Francisco.Pence, who hit .329 with five home runs and 10 RBIs in 20games as a visiting player at AT&T Park but is 0-for-6 with two strikeouts,a walk and an RBI in two games as a Giant, has no qualms with his new home.The offense has to get better, not the ballpark, Pence said. Theres a longway to go and were going to keep plugging away and continue to go out thereand get after it.Pence said he relishes the pressure of being the player theGiants acquired to lift a struggling offense and keep them in anever-tightening division race.I think it motivates you, Pence said of the expectations.Were in this race and thats something good. Hopefully Ill be able to feedoff of it and well get the whole offense clicking here.Like his shiny new toy Pence, Bochy is optimistic that theGiants will wake up.Weve been through some tough times and they have bouncedback, Bochy said. Earlier in the season we had our funks, our ruts, and theseguys found a way to get through it. But the team that snapped out of an early season slump is not the one thatBochy is trotting out there now. With the addition of Pence and fellow tradeacquisition Marco Scutaro, how can Bochy be sure that the chemistry that workedmonths ago will return to a new-look roster?Even though its a new group, a lot of these guys have beenaround and theyre experienced, Bochy said. I really believe once we getclicking here well get back on track and start having some fun again. Its nota lot of fun when you go out for a week and struggle the way we have. This gamecan humble you at times. It did here in this homestand.Not only do the Giants get a change of scenery in Colorado,they will also see a familiar face in Jonathan Sanchez staring them down fromthe Coors Field mound Friday. Now that Tim Lincecum appears to have at leasttemporarily righted his ship, Sanchez is arguably the worst pitcher in the bigleagues. But that doesnt make Bochy breathe any easier.It really doesnt matter who were facing, we just got toget these quality at-bats going again, Bochy said. We know Johnny. Hes gotgood stuff. Hes dangerous when hes out there. Hes got a good breaking ballalong with the fastball so we got to go out there and execute and hopefully getthese bats going.Zito will be a spectator in Colorado, where he threw acomplete game shutout on April 9 to put the Giants in the win column after aseason-opening sweep in Arizona, but is optimistic his teammates will reboundif they dont let the losses linger mentally. A lot of times when youre going into a rut, you try to press and do too muchand thats when you get farther in it, Zito said. So as a team, we just needto trust ourselves and know that were here for a reason. Weve been on topmost of the year and we just have to be ourselves.With both the Dodgers and Diamondbacks within striking distance, the Giantsmight need to be a little better than their usual selves to maintain theirdivision lead. Thats not exactly what Bochy is preaching, though. For the Giants' skipper, it's about attitude.
"Were in first place; we need tostart carrying ourselves like it and pick it up here, he said.

Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

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AP

Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It has been 30 years since Matt Williams broke into the big leagues with the Giants, and he has been back many times in recent seasons as an opposing player, coach and manager. When the Giants play their home opener on April 10, Williams will once again be affiliated with them, this time in a new role. 

Williams will join NBC Sports Bay Area this season as a studio analyst for the pre- and post-game shows, which are expanding to one hour. After spending most of the last two decades in various on and off-field roles for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Williams is coming full circle with the Giants. 

“It feels like that, doesn’t it?” he said. “I love coaching and managing, but I also enjoy talking about the game and experiencing the game from that angle, which is a lot of fun. I really enjoy it. You get to talk about the intricacies of the game.”

Williams knows it inside and out, and not just because he played 17 seasons for the Giants, Diamondbacks and Indians. He has coached first and third base for the Diamondbacks, most recently during the 2016 season. When the organization retooled the front office in the offseason, changes were made to the coaching staff. Williams has also had a stint as a manager, doing two years with the Washington Nationals. He went 179-145, winning the NL Manager of the Year Award in 2014, when the Giants knocked the Nationals out of the postseason in the NLDS. 

Williams is best known in San Francisco for 10 strong years on the field. He hit 378 career home runs, 247 of them with the Giants. Williams is a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner and four-time Gold Glove winner, and he finished in the top five in the MVP voting in 1994 and 1999. While Williams was gone by the time a title drought was broken, he does have a ring to wear around the ballpark. He batted .275 with 16 homers for the champion Diamondbacks in 2001. 

Williams’ time in Arizona also included color commentary for their television and radio broadcasts, and he said he’s looking forward to working with former Giants players he has coached against, and fellow former coach Tim Flannery, who was an NL West rival in the late 1980s. 

“During the offseason, this is always one of my favorite cities to visit,” he said. “It’s home. I’ve been in the Bay Area practically my whole life. It’s a fantastic atmosphere in the ballpark with a great fan base, and the Giants’ recent success has been phenomenal.” 

The Giants plan on that success carrying over into the odd year, and one of the best infielders in franchise history will be along for the ride. 

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.