Michael Morse on returning to Giants: 'I know I’m not done'

Michael Morse on returning to Giants: 'I know I’m not done'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Two years and one month after the biggest moment of his career, Michael Morse found himself back among the Giants. Morse, a fan favorite in 2014 and clutch bench bat during that postseason run, returned to San Francisco in November for Hunter Pence’s wedding, and at some point he found himself standing with general manager Bobby Evans.

“I know I’m not done,” said Morse, who received just eight at-bats from the Pirates before being released last April.

“If you want to see if you’re done or not, come to camp,” Evans replied.

Pence’s wedding was a long one, taking place on both sides of the Bay Bridge. Morse didn’t need much time, however, to accept the surprising offer. He ran into Larry Baer later in the wedding and told him he would see him in the spring. Then he saw Pence, one of his close friends.

“He was so excited. He was like, ‘No way!” Morse said. “I said, 'I think we just shook on a little deal here.' If (Evans) is telling me I can come to camp, I’m coming. I’m coming hard. I’m giving everything I have.”

Planning a reunion was easy, but Morse flew back to his Fort Lauderdale home knowing there could be speed bumps. He had briefly talked to the Giants about a comeback last summer, but they signed Chris Denorfia. Morse started doing cardio and kept a close eye on the Giants during the Winter Meetings to make sure his potential role wasn’t filled.

In December, the Giants made the deal official. On Thursday, Morse, slimmed down from his first stint in San Francisco, walked back onto the field at Scottsdale Stadium, a wide smile on his face.

“I want to prove to myself I can still play this game,” he said. 

The history of this organization says Morse will get another shot, that he’ll follow the Ishikawas and Gillaspies and turn his comeback into postseason heroics. Morse knows it’s not that simple, but he also knows that he has put himself in a good position to succeed. He is 34 years old and more than two years removed from a significant big league role, but he feels like a player 10 years younger. The half-year off — spent relaxing with family and trying out life as a TV and radio analyst — was a godsend. 

“I feel good … I feel very athletic this year,” Morse said. “Other years, it was more about strength. This year I feel more mobile and agile. It was very refreshing. I let my body heal, which you wouldn’t believe it, it’s such a nice, refreshing feeling. Everybody’s contract should have one year where you don’t have to play, just to heal your body.”

Morse’s last contract took him away from the Giants. He hit .279 and bashed 16 homers in 2014, returning from a bad oblique injury to hit an NLCS homer off the Cardinals’ Pat Neshek that set up Travis Ishikawa’s walk-off. A two-year, $16 million contract put him with the Marlins. He was traded to the Dodgers for a day in 2015 and then was shipped to Pittsburgh.

This current deal is not guaranteed, as Morse is in camp as a non-roster invitee, fighting for one of the open bench jobs. There’s a chance, Morse admitted, that he looks up two weeks from now and realizes it really is over. There’s a chance that the Giants ask him to continue his comeback in Triple-A, and Morse said he’s not sure what he would do if that’s the case. There’s also a chance that he has a big spring but there’s simply not room in orange and black. Morse said that would make for an easy decision. 

“I’m pretty sure that even if I hit .900 this spring and don’t make the team, I don’t think I’d go anywhere else,” he said. “I’d rather go home than not play for them.”

In a way, Morse has done both. He has played just 142 games for the Giants but considers the clubhouse his baseball home. He’s hoping that none of the other possibilities matter, that he runs with this spring opening and once again joins Pence in the outfield. He’s hoping that the wedding handshake was just the beginning.

“This is an opportunity and the Giants have given me that opportunity,” he said. “It’s not something I’m not going to take seriously. I’m 110 percent in it to help this team, and I told Bobby I don’t want to play anywhere else. I don’t want to play anywhere but for the Giants.”

Barry Bonds predicts he can still smash Splash Hit: 'Without a doubt'

Barry Bonds predicts he can still smash Splash Hit: 'Without a doubt'

Barry Bonds stepped into Giants' broadcast booth with Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow during the top of the third inning Sunday and Kuiper immediately brought up the shape Bonds is in at 52 years old. 

"Still think you can play, probably?" Kuiper asked Bonds. 

After giving Kuiper the look, Bonds replied, "About an inning or two."

Moments later, the cameras moved to McCovey Cove past the right field wall at AT&T Park where Bonds famously hit home runs deep into the water. Of the 73 Splash Hits off Giants bats into the cove, Bonds is responsible for 35 of them. 

Now an avid cyclist who still picks up a bat from time to time, Bonds is fully confident that number would rise if he stepped into the batter's box again. 

"I promise you I will," Bonds replied when Krukow asked if he could still hit home runs into the water. "Without a doubt." 

Krukow predicted Bonds would need 10 swings to get it done. Bonds says he might need just a few more.

"Well it would take me eight swings to get warmed up, three pop ups and then I'd get it," he said with a laugh. 

During spring training this year, Bonds joined the Giants as a special instructor. And he proved his claim of more Splash Hits could certainly be true as he showed off his legendary swing and cracked balls over the wall in Scottsdale

Bonds hit his final home run of his career, No. 762, on Sept. 5, 2007 on the road against the Rockies in a 5-3 Giants win. The Giants are adding Bonds to their Wall of Fame on July 8. 

More toaster magic? Bochy, Crawford sign appliance before Giants game

More toaster magic? Bochy, Crawford sign appliance before Giants game

When you have the second worst record in the National League, you'll try anything, right?

It appears the Giants are looking for some of the same magic Klay Thompson and the Warriors received during their run to the 2017 NBA title.

Prior to Sunday's game against the Mets, Giants manager Bruce Bochy and shortstop Brandon Crawford signed a fan's toaster.

The legend of the toaster is well-documented for the Warriors now.

In March, Warriors fan Ronnie Reyes had Thompson autograph a toaster at a signing event. Thompson looked a little puzzled after he autographed the appliance. But from that moment, the Warriors went 31-2 en route to the NBA championship. The only losses came on April 10 when Thompson did not play against the Jazz and Game 4 of the NBA Finals against the Cavs. They were 30-0 with Thompson in the lineup until losing to Cleveland.

So mark June 25 down on the calendar. If they Giants turn things around, you may have to credit this autographed toaster.