Report: Longtime Giant Javier Lopez announces retirement

Report: Longtime Giant Javier Lopez announces retirement

SAN FRANCISCO — The Core Four era officially came to an end Wednesday when left-hander Javier Lopez announced his retirement. 

The announcement, made through Fox Sports, did not come as a surprise, as Lopez had a very small list of teams that he would consider playing for in 2017. The Giants, with a promising group of young left-handers, decided early on to go in a different direction. Lopez, 39, had a 2.47 ERA in seven seasons in San Francisco, playing a key role in three World Series runs. 

“More than anything, it’s just time,” Lopez told Ken Rosenthal of Fox Sports. “It’s a young man’s game. Although I think I can compete, it’s getting harder and harder to get ready for spring."

By his lofty standards, 2016 was a down year for Lopez. He had a 4.05 ERA in 68 appearances and struggled with his command at times. Lopez walked left-handed hitter Anthony Rizzo in the ninth inning of an NLDS Game 4 loss, but that was just about the only blemish on his postseason record with the Giants. 

Lopez, a brilliant under-the-radar move in the middle of the 2010 season, allowed just one earned run over 23 appearances during the even year title runs. Used primarily against tough left-handers, he held opposing hitters to a .125 batting average during that span. Lopez also won a World Series ring with the 2007 Red Sox, and he spent the final years of his career as MLB’s active leader in rings. 

As much as the Giants will miss Lopez in the late innings — even last year he held lefties to a .208 average — the impact will be just as great on the clubhouse. He was a leader for a bullpen that has undergone massive changes in the last two years, and the rare reliever who stood up as a voice of the team during difficult times. In good times, Lopez was one of the funniest quotes on the team.

It was an open secret around the team last season that Lopez was likely playing his final year. The Lopez family had recently moved closer to the East Coast. 

“I’m looking forward to some other things in my life,” Lopez told Rosenthal. “We’ll see what they are. I don’t know yet, but we’ll come up with something.”

The announcement comes on the heels of Sergio Romo agreeing to a deal with the Dodgers and Santiago Casilla going across the bridge to the A’s. Throw in the retirement of Jeremy Affeldt after the 2015 season and that’s 30 seasons of Giants experience that has walked out the door in a short period of time.

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.