Giants

Samardzija reflects on passing of Cubs scout that signed him

Samardzija reflects on passing of Cubs scout that signed him

Cliff Floyd landed in Fort Lauderdale – the night before a gunman opened fire in a South Florida airport terminal – and could immediately sense something already went wrong by the way his phone started buzzing.

The news rippled throughout the baseball community last week: Cubs scout Stan Zielinski, 64, had died suddenly overnight at his home in Chicago's western suburbs. The sense of loss hit Floyd hard, because he placed so much trust in Zielinski as a Thornwood High School senior, believing what this guy from the Montreal Expos kept telling his family before the 1991 draft. 

"Not one lie ever came out of this man’s mouth," Floyd said. "Stan was so genuine, man, and just so real with everything that a young kid needed."

The Cubs will miss that presence in the Wrigley Field clubhouse this week when team officials hold their kickoff meetings for the 2017 draft – and remember Zielinski's invaluable contributions to a World Series champion before Wednesday's funeral service at St. John the Baptist in Winfield.

Zielinski spoke with conviction and authority, scouting for the last 38 years and working for the Cubs since 2001, fitting into front offices run by Andy MacPhail, Jim Hendry and Theo Epstein.

Zielinski could shift between the pro game and amateur scouting, recommending Hendry acquire Chris Archer from the Cleveland Indians in the Mark DeRosa trade and reinforcing what Epstein saw in Kyle Schwarber at Indiana University.

Zielinski, who went to Loyola Academy on the North Shore, could also make connections in South Holland with Floyd’s mother, Olivia, and father, Cornelius, convincing them that the Expos would take their son with the 14th overall pick, launching what became a 17-year career in the big leagues and a second act as a broadcaster with MLB Network and SiriusXM Radio.

"It's having the ability to be the calm in the storm," Floyd said, "in any environment. Whether you're in the hood or the suburbs, it doesn't matter, because you have to be able to change your vibe going to different households. You can’t just be one-dimensional.

"That's an ability or a quality that not a lot of people possess. And when you have it, you have it.

"I'm a mama's boy. Stan realized he had to put the full-court press on her, or it's not going to work.

"The rest is pretty much history."

It became a two-man operation. Floyd, the Chicago Tribune's 1991 Athlete of the Year, had committed to play for Hendry at Creighton University. Standing in the family's driveway, Hendry asked Floyd what he wanted to do – turn pro – and told him he would go inside and try to influence Olivia.  

Hendry explained how he couldn't promise that he would be at Creighton forever. That candid admission eventually caught the attention of Montreal general manager Dave Dombrowski, who would later help Hendry make the jump to pro baseball with the expansion Florida Marlins and make Floyd a part of the 1997 World Series team.

Zielinski arranged for the Expos to deliver a $290,000 bonus and a clause in the contract that included money for college, allowing Floyd to take some offseason business classes at DePaul University and please his mother.

"She was such a big advocate of education that she was like: 'You're going to college,'" Floyd said. "She was just so big on who was going to take care of her baby when I was finally out of her eyesight after 18 years.

"These two guys were literally godsend, bro. They were literally everything you could possibly want your kid to be involved with. Without one, maybe you couldn't have the other.

"But I think when you look at how it all transpired for me, it was crazy, because my mom was so strong-willed at getting you to see it her way or the highway.

"When he finally said, 'Your mom is on board,' I thought he was crazy. I go: 'Stan, get your ass out of here. There ain’t no way. She just told me last night she wouldn’t do it.'"

Fifteen years later, Zielinski helped Hendry put together a $10 million deal that infuriated Bud Selig – the Major League Baseball commissioner at the time – and priced a Notre Dame All-American out of the NFL draft.   

"I'm in debt to him big-time," Jeff Samardzija said. "The more I talked to (Stan), and the more I saw that he was watching me, (and) the more they really explained to me why they felt (it would work), it just started to make the option a little bit more realistic for me. Whereas before it was maybe just a long shot or a pipe dream to involve baseball in my professional life.

"Sometimes, it takes other people believing in you for you to really start believing in yourself. I know he saw me play more in college probably than any other scout or GM or crosschecker or whatever. I knew his opinion of me was pretty solid – and it wasn’t wavering."

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Unhappy Buster Posey bashes Phillies closer after hit-by-pitch

Unhappy Buster Posey bashes Phillies closer after hit-by-pitch

In what was set up to be a pivotal matchup of the game turned into a heated exchange.

Buster Posey stepped into the batter's box in the bottom of the eighth inning Sunday against Phillies closer Hector Neris.

But Posey never got to swing the bat. On the first pitch, Neris drilled the Giants catcher in the ribs with a 95 MPH fastball.

Posey whinced in pain and as he walked to first base, he appeared to ask Neris if the pitch was on purpose.

After the game, Posey was asked about the kerfuffle.

"I'm pretty certain he hit me on purpose. And it's just a shame because I wanted to compete that at-bat and he's got good stuff. But I guess he didn't feel like he couldn't get me out," Posey told reporters after the game.

Posey was asked if he could think of any incidents in previous games against the Phillies that could have led to the hit-by-pitch. He said no and asked the reporters if they could think of anything.

Posey's comments were brought to Neris after the game.

"It's stupid because nobody who watched that said, 'Oh he hit him on purpose in that situation,'" Neris told reporters, according to the Philly Inquirer.

Posey and Neris have faced each other just one time in the past. In the ninth inning of the June 3 matchup in Philadelphia, Posey flew out to left field.

Strickland hammered by Phils, Giants officially eliminated from NL West contention

Strickland hammered by Phils, Giants officially eliminated from NL West contention

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- Madison Bumgarner pitched six innings in one of his best starts this season, took a line drive off his left shin and hit an RBI single that temporarily gave the Giants an early lead.

The reward? A heaping of praise from manager Bruce Bochy, handshakes from his teammates and another no-decision - Bumgarner's third in eight starts since coming off the disabled list.

Philadelphia rookie Rhys Hoskins homered again, Pedro Florimon contributed with his bat and arm, and the Phillies scored three runs in the eighth to beat the Giants 5-2 on Sunday.

In what has been a theme for San Francisco much of the season, Bumgarner's efforts were overshadowed by another meltdown from the Giants' bullpen.

"I thought it was a good day for Madison," Bochy said. "We had it lined up like we wanted as far as the bullpen. (Hunter Strickland) just had an off day making some mistakes."

Bumgarner allowed one run and four hits. He stayed in despite taking a sharp line drive off his left shin in the second inning by Nick Williams - earlier this month, Williams hit Mets ace Jacob deGrom in the triceps with a line drive, forcing him from the game.

"I tried to do a kick save but I wasn't very good at soccer," Bumgarner said. "It almost worked out."

Hoskins connected for a solo drive in the ninth inning, making him the first Phillies player in at least 100 years to hit five home runs in his first 11 major league games.

"I got to better counts, I think this week, and the results show," Hoskins said.

Florimon hit a two-run single off Strickland (2-3) to cap a three-run eighth inning that made it 4-2. Florimon also had an RBI double off Bumgarner in the second, then made a sparkling defensive play in left field to throw out Buster Posey at the plate in the bottom of the inning.

It was Florimon's first major league game in left field.

"I just try to catch the ball and throw the ball to home plate and see what happens," Florimon said. "I made a good throw."

Adam Morgan (2-1) retired three batters for the win, a day after throwing just one pitch and getting the victory.

Hector Neris pitched 1 1/3 innings for his 15th save. He struck out Pablo Sandoval with the bases loaded to end the eighth after hitting Posey in the back with a pitch, then fanned Denard Span with two on in the ninth to end it.

The Phillies won the season series against the Giants for the first time since 2011.

Philadelphia trailed 2-1 going into the eighth. Hoskins and Maikel Franco hit consecutive one-out singles before Jorge Alfaro tied it with an RBI single. After Williams singled to load the bases, Florimon slapped a 1-2 pitch into right field.

Posey had two hits and an RBI, extending his hitting streak against the Phillies to 22 games. Kelby Tomlinson scored a run and Ryder Jones doubled and scored for San Francisco.

PAINED POSEY:
Posey had a rough afternoon physically. In addition to taking a 95 mph fastball in the back, Posey also appeared to get hurt while tagging out a sliding Cameron Perkins at the plate in the second.

Afterward, the Giants' All-Star catcher voiced his displeasure about Neris.

"I'm certain that he hit me on purpose," Posey said. "It's just a shame because I wanted to compete that at-bat and he's got good stuff. But I guess he didn't feel like he could get me out."

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Giants 2B Joe Panik (concussion symptoms) continues to make steady progress and could come off the disabled list in time to join San Francisco on its upcoming road trip that begins Friday in Arizona.

UP NEXT:
Phillies: The team gets an off day before hosting Miami in a doubleheader Tuesday. RHP Dan Straily (7-8, 3.80 ERA) pitches in the first game and RHP Jose Urena (11-5, 3.61 ERA) goes in the nightcap.

Giants: RHP Chris Stratton (1-2, 4.91) faces Milwaukee on Monday.