Jimmy Rollins praises Giants fans for incredible energy at AT&T Park

Jimmy Rollins praises Giants fans for incredible energy at AT&T Park

In 1996, Jimmy Rollins graduated from Encinal High School in Alameda.

On Thursday morning, the Bay Area native opened up about actively rooting against the Orange and Black as a kid, and discussed his mindset entering 2017.

"I have to be honest, growing up in the East Bay, I couldn't stand the Giants," Rollins said on KNBR 1050. "I was happy about the '89 World Series and all that. But as I got introduced to National League baseball maybe about my sophomore or junior year ... I was like, you know what, going over to Candlestick -- this side is not bad. It's not like anything I thought it was.

"And I started really following the Giants. Obviously Matt Williams, Will the Thrill, Royce Clayton, (Robby) Thompson, Bonds obviously -- just the guys they had over there, I'm like 'This is a real good team.' I was just biased on that East Bay-West Bay bias.

"And then being in the National League, I really fell in love with playing at Giants stadium. The energy and all the things. After 2010, I couldn't stand anything about San Francisco stadium (laughter), but I still enjoyed going there just because the energy they bring ... there's just an excitement and a buzz when you go to that ballpark. It is never quiet, there's always noise going on and as an athlete you thrive on that -- it helps you perform better."

[RELATED: Mike Krukow expects Jimmy Rollins to make Giants' Opening Day roster]

Over 50 career games at AT&T Park, Rollins is hitting just .205 with four home runs and 19 RBI.

Against the Giants in the 2010 NLCS, he batted .261 with four RBI.

Rollins chose the White Sox over the Giants last year, but he signed a minor-league deal with San Francisco earlier this week.

What was the conversation like between him and Giants GM Bobby Evans?

"I haven't actually spoke with him yet, but I take it off of last year," Rollins explained. "We were in talks last year and I signed with Chicago just for the opportunity. But it was the same situation. I spoke with Bobby and Boch (Bruce Bochy), and like they said then and I'm gonna assume it's the same way -- they have their young guys and they're gonna play ... you're gonna give some days off and play here and there, and if somebody goes down, then maybe I can be the guy that steps up.

"So I'm just assuming it's the same exact role. But when I do speak with Boch or Bobby, whether that happens over the phone or when I get to spring training, the first thing is I'm just walking in the office and just asking what do I need to show them to convince them I'm worthy of being on the team. It's that simple.

"Whatever it is at this point, I'm willing to do. Last year, I wasn't at that point yet ... for me it's about winning and how can I help."
 

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants dropping series vs Braves

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants dropping series vs Braves

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The kid who raced The Freeze on Thursday night blew a tire as he hit center field, hobbled for about 50 feet, and then went down for good. He still had a better night than the Giants. 

They blew all four tires in the fifth, giving up eight runs in a nightmare frame that turned a two-run lead into a 12-11 loss. The Giants finished 1-7 on the swing through Denver and Atlanta, and they have lost 18 of their last 23 games. 

But, let’s face it, you’re here already. So here are five more things to know from the night … 

—- Matt Cain was hanging in there until the fifth, and then … disaster. The inning started with Brandon Phillips’ solo shot that cut the lead to one. Then it went single, single before Cain was relieved by Bryan Morris. After that, it was single, single, single, sacrifice fly, homer, flyout, walk, single, pitching change, single. 

—- Morris had to wear it in the fifth because the bullpen is short, and boy, did he wear it. Morris gave up five runs on five hits and a walk. His ERA jumped two full points in two-thirds of an inning. 

—- Kyle Crick made his MLB debut in that horrendous bottom of the fifth. The Giants surely did not want to bring him in with runners on, but Bruce Bochy had no choice when Morris blew up. Crick’s first pitch was a 95 mph heater. After giving up a hit in that inning, he pitched a perfect sixth and perfect seventh. Crick topped out at 97 mph. Pretty, pretty good stuff there. He needs to get a long look the rest of this year. 

—- In the second, Buster Posey hit a ball that went 311 feet and had a hit probability of just six percent. Cain hit a ball 357 feet. Posey got a homer that bounced off the top of the wall; Cain just got a double. Baseball is such an odd game.  

—- On a positive note, Javi Lopez, who calls Brandon Belt “Sparky,” repeatedly referred to Posey as Gerald. He’s going to be good at this job. 

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a very important fact you need to keep in mind when talk of Johnny Cueto’s opt-out comes up, as it so often will over the next six weeks: The Giants always expected him to opt-out after this season, from the moment the ink was dry on the six-year, $130-million contract. 

When you sign at the top of your game and have a chance to hit the market at 31 years old and cash out a second time, you take it. Those are just the rules of professional sports. On the day Cueto was introduced, his agent, Bryce Dixon, said the two-year opt-out was important because they felt Cueto didn’t get a totally fair shot at free agency. 

“Johnny, a little bit unfairly, had a lot of questions about his arm,” Dixon said in December of 2015. “I felt we could reestablish his actual value … He knows he’s as good as (David) Price and (Zack) Greinke, but his situation was a little different.”

The Giants were fine with this, too. The flip side of the opt-out is that if you have the chance to pay a dominant right-hander $46 million over two years, and then escape his mid- to late-thirties, you do it. Every time. You don’t even blink. 

So, here we are, in June of the second year of that deal, with reports that Cueto will opt out. You should take a deep breath because you should have already expected this. But if you didn’t, take comfort in this: By all indications, Cueto has not made a decision, even with the Giants having an unimaginably poor season. 

First of all, Cueto can't make a decision in June. What if the blisters return and he repeats his April ERA a couple more times? What if his elbow starts barking? There are no guarantees with pitchers, and until Cueto gets through the second season, there will be no finality with his decision. 

Aside from the fact that he really can’t make that decision, though, sources insist Cueto hasn’t made up his mind or even thought much about it. People familiar with his thinking continue to say the focus has been baseball all season long, from spring training through his last start. 

Cueto is said to be happy in San Francisco and he enjoys pitching in front of the crowd at AT&T Park. His biggest concern has been wins and losses, and in that respect, this has been a disappointing year for all involved. 

That record has brought the Giants to a crossroads, and this is where it gets interesting. The easy solution is to trade Cueto next month, avoid the opt-out situation entirely, and add prospects to a system lacking them. But, it’s complicated. The Giants do not intend a full teardown, and if they’re going for it again in 2018 — with their core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Madison Bumgarner, etc. locked in, that’s the plan — they’ll want that second ace at the top of the rotation. And if Bumgarner doesn’t return to form after an injury, they’ll need Cueto’s presence. 

The Giants have until July 31 to decide what to do with Cueto. He has until three days after the World Series ends to decide what to do with his contract. Here in June, by all indications, those decisions haven’t been made.