Report: Former Giants reliever Sergio Romo agrees to deal with Dodgers

Report: Former Giants reliever Sergio Romo agrees to deal with Dodgers

Update (Feb. 15, 2017): Sergio Romo officially signed a one-year deal with the Dodgers.

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SAN FRANCISCO — One of the most popular relievers in Giants history is headed for the other side of a storied rivalry. 

Sergio Romo agreed to a deal with the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday, per Jon Morosi of MLB Network. According to Jesse Sanchez of MLB.com, Romo’s deal will be for one year and is pending a physical. Romo, a native of Southern California, had spent his entire career with the Giants after being selected in the 28th round of the 2005 MLB Draft. 

Romo had a 2.58 ERA in nine seasons with the Giants, saving 84 games, including the clincher in the 2012 World Series. His fastball to freeze Miguel Cabrera will go down as one of the gutsiest pitches ever thrown in the postseason, but his reign as a closer wouldn’t last much longer. Romo was an All-Star in 2013, but midseason struggles the next year cost him the ninth-inning role. He had just six saves the last two seasons, primarily serving as a setup man for Santiago Casilla while also battling injuries. 

Romo made just 40 appearances in 2016 because of a flexor strain in a right elbow that has always seemed on the verge of blowing out. The Giants handled him carefully once he returned, but he grabbed a prominent role down the stretch by going back to his old ways. Romo’s slider was about as dominant as ever in August and September, and he posted a 1.42 ERA over his final 25 appearances. 

His time with the Giants ended in an uncharacteristic way. Romo was part of the group that blew Game 4 of the NLDS, and the Giants opened their offseason with a set plan to go in a different direction. Mark Melancon was signed to a four-year deal in December. Romo and Casilla had both indicated a desire to return to San Francisco, but Casilla signed with the A’s in January after not receiving an offer, and Romo was left in the same position. In recent weeks, it became clear that the Dodgers would likely present the best opportunity. Romo's departure all but ends the wildly successful Core Four era. Jeremy Affeldt retired at the end of the 2015 season and Javier Lopez may join him soon. 

In Los Angeles, Romo could have an opportunity to continue to pitch in the late innings. The Dodgers do not have a set eighth-inning guy in front of closer Kenley Jansen, and while Romo is best used as a matchup play these days, he remains death on right-handed hitters. Romo, born in nearby Brawley, should be a popular addition in Los Angeles. It won’t hurt that the player who has one of the best entrance routines in baseball will now play in the park with the loudest speakers.

The Giants will face Romo’s Dodgers 19 times in 2017, starting on April 24 in San Francisco. Romo is following a path recently blazed (unsuccessfully) by Jason Schmidt and Brian Wilson, but he should find a softer landing. Romo won’t be asked to be an ace or a closer. The Dodgers surely just want him to continue spinning sliders to right-handers, piling up strikeouts one or two batters at a time. If he’s the Romo of old, the rivalry will get an interesting boost. While the Giants send out a lineup filled with left-handers, Romo may see plenty of Hunter Pence, his neighbor in the clubhouse, and Buster Posey, his longtime catcher. 

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner aims to get all 27 outs every time he takes the mound, but on Tuesday the coaching staff gave the ace a nice view of the man who will help out if his nights are cut short. 

Bumgarner threw his first live batting practice session of the spring on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. Mark Melancon, the new closer, followed him. Both players said they felt good. Both also found things to work on in advance of opening day. 

“Strength-wise I felt pretty good, really good, actually,” Bumgarner said. “My command up in the zone was right where I want it. I’m pretty happy with that. My cutter was pretty straight, but that usually comes around pretty quick.”

Melancon didn’t even throw his go-to cutter, saying he usually pockets it until later in camp. He’s getting the feel for his curveball back because he doesn’t throw it until he reports. Like Bumgarner, Melancon said he’s where he needs to be physically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In years past there has been some slowness but I don’t feel that this year. I’m right where I want to be.”

The Giants have not finalized a Cactus League rotation, but Bumgarner will likely throw an inning in Friday’s opener. Melancon could follow him, as he’ll throw in the early innings until late March. He said he’ll talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about closing a game or two over the final days of camp so he can start locking his routine down. It’s probably a lock that he’ll close out that first Bay Bridge Series game back at AT&T Park. 

ICYMI: Here’s actual (shaky) footage of Bumgarner throwing today. At one point, he gave Denard Span a hard time for missing a slider that he was told was coming. Span had a good reason. “I didn't understand him when he said it because of his accent,” he said. 

ICYMI, PART II: The latest podcast is a couple of interviews with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Law explained how he ordered 800 chicken nuggets for his wedding. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants now expect Johnny Cueto to join camp this weekend. His status for the WBC is up in the air. Speaking of the WBC, trainer Dave Groeschner will be leaving camp on Feb. 27 to work with manager Hensley Meulens and the Netherlands. Bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu is also working with the team, which opens play in Seoul. Anthony Reyes will be head trainer while Groeschner is gone.

PROSPECT WATCH: Bruce Bochy said right-hander Ray Black was a standout during early live BP sessions. “He had a hell of an outing yesterday,” Bochy said. “They said he was really good.”   Black, 26, still throws 100-plus. He still has command issues, though, with 32 walks in 31 1/3 innings last year. If he can get over that hump and stay healthy, he might rocket to the big leagues.

QUOTABLE: After just about every start last season — most of which were dominant — Bumgarner said he wasn’t happy with his mechanics. He said Tuesday that he’s still searching for the perfect feeling. “I was being a perfectionist,” he said. “If you’re being a perfectionist, I really haven’t had (my mechanics) where I wanted the last couple of years. It’s not like it’s too far off, obviously.”

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants have been watching high-quality clips of Johnny Cueto all spring, even though the co-ace has remained in the Dominican Republic. On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy finally managed to get face-to-face with Cueto. Kind of. 

Cueto spoke to Bochy, trainer Dave Groeschner and others via FaceTime, and all involved finally managed to hammer out a schedule for Cueto’s arrival. Cueto has been in the Dominican Republic tending to his ill father, Domingo, but he is expected to arrive in Scottsdale this weekend. Cueto is working to secure a visa for his father, who will travel with him.

Bochy wanted to have a long discussion with Cueto to get a sense of how ready he’ll be for the World Baseball Classic. Cueto’s participation is still up in the air, and not just because he has missed the first week of camp. There is a chance, Bochy said, that Cueto will choose to stay in Scottsdale to continue taking care of his father. The Dominican Republic opens play in Miami on March 9.

“He said he knows he’s got to make a decision real soon regarding what he does,” Bochy said. “Pitching or not pitching, he’s got to let them know as soon as possible.”

Cueto has been throwing to hitters at a facility in Boca Chica. He threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.