Matt Moore finding comfort zone in first spring with Giants

Matt Moore finding comfort zone in first spring with Giants

GLENDALE, Ariz. — At some point of the offseason, it hit Matt Moore.

“I really settled into feeling like a Giant,” he said.

Getting traded makes for a difficult transition for any player, but for Moore, it was a bit more hectic. He was dealt in the minutes leading up to the trade deadline, crossing the country to join a contender that was seemingly turning into a sinking ship. The Giants acquired Moore to get one more arm for big games, and his season ended with a start in the National League Division Series.

Over the winter, Moore finally caught his breath. He has spent this spring getting to know all the people behind the scenes in the organization, and he smiled Tuesday when he explained that being a Giant now simply “rolls off my tongue easier.”

For the people Moore has met this spring, the “he’s a Giant” day probably came August 25. That was the night Moore came an out away from no-hitting the Dodgers. If you throw a no-hitter at any point of the season, it’ll go down in the history books. If you’re a Giant and you do it at Dodger Stadium, well, that’s a shade or two better, and Moore knows it.

“It was nice being injected into that (rivalry), having watched their battles together,” he said. “It’s probably similar to when I was in Tampa. We didn’t really get along with the Red Sox. There’s a little something extra there.”

The Giants hope Moore can provide that little something extra in 2017, when they’ll look to end the Dodgers’ four-year run atop the division. The early returns were curiously mixed. Moore followed that first start against the Dodgers by giving up six runs in one inning of work on Sept. 21 at Dodger Stadium. Two starts later, he gave up just one run over eight innings in a third matchup.

“That was tough,” he said of the middle start. “That’ll happen, I suppose. That’s what they say, right?”

The Dodgers struggled against left-handers last season and they still lean heavily that way. But their leadoff batter Tuesday, Logan Forsythe, could help make a difference, and Moore said the offseason addition was a good one. He praised his former teammate for his ability to fit into a clubhouse, and the Giants saw the on-field ability when the second baseman picked up two singles in three at-bats, raising his spring average to .462. 

Forsythe, who hit 20 homers for the Rays last season, will make the rivalry games a bit more difficult for Giants left-handers, but Moore didn’t take anything away from Tuesday’s matchups with his teammate of three seasons. He said he has not yet reached the point of the spring where he hides tendencies from division rivals. He’s out there getting his work in, and Tuesday’s results showed he’s on the right track. In three scoreless innings, Moore gave up three hits and struck out five. 

“Let’s just make sure I’m healthy and in a good place heading into the season,” he said. “From there, I think we all like our chances.” 

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will return to camp Thursday, show off their WBC championship medals, and then head to nearby Salt River Fields to take on the Colorado Rockies. It'll be a few more days, however, before the Giants have their full infield on the field. 

Eduardo Nuñez said he actually got two cortisone shots in his right shoulder, since an MRI this week showed “something” in two separate spots. Nuñez asked for the MRI because, while he was able to play and make strong throws, he felt pain on a daily basis. He might DH this weekend, but it'll be a few more days before he's cleared to begin throwing. 

The Giants are hopeful that the shots calm all this down, and Nuñez anticipated being ready for Opening Day. Still, it certainly sounds like this will be a close call. Conor Gillaspie, who is having a huge spring, could get plenty of early time at third. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn't anticipate Nuñez missing Opening Day.

"He should be ready," Bochy said. 

The Giants need all the good injury news they can get. It is expected that Will Smith will announce Friday that he's having Tommy John surgery. 

ICYMI: From this morning, a feature on George Kontos and his rise over the last few years. 

Also, one of the bench candidates, Gordon Beckham, asked for his release. The Giants will soon have to make decisions on Hill and David Hernandez, who have similar retention bonuses due March 28.

GAME RECAP: The Giants played one of their uglier games of the spring, losing 9-2 to King Felix and the Mariners … Matt Moore lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. It was the same old thing: Moore just all of a sudden lost his command, and because he got up past the 30-pitch mark in the second inning alone, the Giants cut it off. Moore went down to the bullpen and got up to around 80 pitches. He'll make one more start down here, Tuesday against the Cubs ... Joe Panik had a hard double, one of just four hits for the Giants … Chris Marrero hasn’t played a whole lot of left field this spring, and he didn’t show much to the coaches on a couple of opportunities to throw home. The left field situation remains a mystery. 

POSITION BATTLES: Kelby Tomlinson played six innings of left field in a minor league game, and he had to wait until the sixth to get his first and only fly ball. There seemed to be a lot of interest from decision-makers about how Tomlinson fared, and his action today opens up an intriguing possibility. There’s a roster permutation that has the Giants keeping just one reserve outfielder (Gorkys Hernandez) and three backup infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson, with the latter two being options in left field. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Angel Pagan made it through the WBC healthy, and he apparently is drawing interest from the Phillies and Blue Jays. Giants people are confident Pagan will get a big league job somewhere over the coming week. 

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Left-hander Will Smith, a key piece of a revamped bullpen, is leaning toward having Tommy John surgery, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday night. 

Bochy said surgery was the recommendation of both doctors who examined Smith's elbow this week. Smith will talk to his agent before coming to a final decision on Friday. The procedure would keep Smith out the entire 2017 season and likely would cause him to miss the start of the 2018 season.

Smith, 27, missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned March 17, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain and called for a trainer. A second round of diagnostics revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. 

"They had the same opinion," Bochy said. "There is a tear there. You can try to rehab it and if that doesn't work you're behind a couple of months ... It's not a definite he's going to have it done, but two doctors are in agreement on what this is."

Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants, getting setup work in the seventh and eighth innings. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on young lefties Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bochy said. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford (who is currently serving a 50-game suspension) and catcher Andrew Susac (who is currently injured). After a shaky start, he finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. 

The Giants have for the most part avoided Tommy John for 40-man roster pitchers. Hunter Strickland, Derek Law and Josh Osich have all had it during their time in the organization, along with outfielder Mac Williamson. Prospect Ian Gardeck is currently recovering from Tommy John. The last Giants pitcher who was likely headed for the roster before having Tommy John was left-hander Eric Surkamp. He had surgery in 2012.

The timetable is different for every pitcher, but the general consensus is that the procedure sidelines a pitcher for at least a year, and usually closer to 16 months. Matt Moore, Thursday night’s starter, had Tommy John on April 23, 2014. He did not return to a big league mound until July 2, 2015, and even then, he was under restrictions. 

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one.