Giants

Theriot is quick with a line - and on bases, too

789958.jpg

Theriot is quick with a line - and on bases, too

SAN FRANCISCO Brandon Crawford is fighting to competeagainst major league pitching, as the Giants anticipated, and some days areeasier to handle than others.

The gifted shortstop recalled a time last week when he gotparticularly upset after a pitcher jammed him and he hit a dribbler back to themound.

I was pretty frustrated when I came back to the dugout,said Crawford, who was intercepted by second baseman Ryan Theriot.

He says, Oh man, I thought you got that one, saidCrawford, smiling at the memory. How can you be in a bad mood after that?

Theriot is making obvious contributions in the two-plusweeks since he came off the disabled list. Theres his .345 average in 15games. Theres his eight RBIs, mostly on two-out hits. Theres his ability torip an inside pitch into left field or shoot one to the right side to move arunner.

Theres even four surprising stolen bases, and a fifthattempt, too, in which he got a tremendous jump but was tagged out after he overslid the bag.

Theres the peace of mind hes given to Giants manager BruceBochy, who had been spackling second base together with Emmanuel Burriss andJoaquin Arias. (With Theriot emerging as the second baseman and everyday No.2hitter, at least now Bochy can narrow his focus to finding some kind of productionat first base.)

Theres more.

With Theriots role on the team expanding, so too is hispersonality. The Baton Rouge native wears Western shirts that couldve beenstolen from the wardrobe department at Hee-Haw. He has a pair of white muckboots instead of shower shoes. His irreverent sensibilities fit well on a teamthat is younger from the position-player side and didnt have an outspokenpresence.

(And truth be told, Theriot is not even the biggestentertainer in his family. His young son, Houston, is a born showman whoroutinely cracks up players in the clubhouse.)

Baseball is a game of certain failure. For young playerslike Crawford and Brandon Belt, who are prone to overanalyzing every bad at-bat ormissed opportunity, Theriot is there with a quick line to relieve the pressure.

Hes a good guy to play with because hes never really in abad mood, Crawford said. He keeps you in a good mood no matter what.

Its been just 15 games since Theriot took over as thesecond baseman. Nobody is expecting the 32-year-old veteran, who arrived on aminor league contract, to hit .345 the rest of the way. He isnt coming off his best season,either even if it ended with a World Series ring with the St. LouisCardinals.

But perhaps his game is a better fit in this lineup, and at this ballpark.

Last year for me was my worst running-wise, said Theriot,who was thrown out in six of 10 attempts. The way the lineup was set up,youve got the best hitter whos ever played the game behind you. Youre notgoing to take any chances with Albert Pujols coming up, and I didnt.

Im not going to run into outs. Im not going to go just togo. Youll get thrown out and thats part of it. But its about picking goodtimes, and if youre not going to hit home runs as a team, youd better get inscoring position.

Especially at home, where the Giants home run drought isreaching levels seldom seen in the last half-century.

Unbelievably, the Giants havent hit a home run in 506at-bats at home. Their streak of 16 consecutive home games without a homer isthe longest by a major league club in 22 years. (The 1990 Houston Astros, stillplaying at the Astrodome, also failed to homer in 16 consecutive home games.)

If the Giants dont hit one out Tuesday night in the series opener against the Astros, their streak will match the longest by an NL teamsince the Brooklyn Dodgers in 1946.

Yet the Giants are 10-6 over their stretch of homerlessgames at home because theyve embraced who they are. Players on last yearsroster like Cody Ross and Aaron Rowand would mutter about the ballpark uponreturning to the dugout or try to solve their problems by swinging harder. But thiscurrent, athletic roster is letting the park suit their game. Despite beingshut out twice by the Texas Rangers over the weekend, their first shutouts ofthe season, theyve done what Bochy and GM Brian Sabean envisioned in thespring: Hitting doubles and triples and moving runners on the basepaths.

Everyone expected Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera to be a partof that. Theriot is proving hes still capable, too.

Hes my guy, said Pagan, who played alongside Theriot withthe Chicago Cubs. Ive gotta mess with him sometimes. But Im never worriedabout him. He knows how to prepare himself. Both of us started slow but you seethe momentum he has right now. Its better to finish strong, right?

Theriots key on the bases has been to get tremendous jumps. Pagan notedthe way that Theriot read the Padres Jason Marquis last week at Petco Park,knowing the pitcher's tendency is not to throw over to first base. Giants third basecoach Tim Flannery likes that Theriot is a peeker and doesnt just run withhis head down. Considering the Giants are more often in run-and-hit thanstraight steal mode, its important that their baserunners know where the ballis at all times.

The ball is the only thing that can get you out, Flannerysaid.

Does Theriot have a constant green light? Well, hed like tothink so.

Oh, we hold him, said Bochy. But hes smart about it. Ifthey give it to him, hell take it.

Reading pitchers, playing to the scoreboard, picking certaincounts when he might get a breaking ball a lot goes into Theriots philosophyon when to run.

And yes, the comedian can talk like a philosopher at times.

Theres a lot of different ways to win ballgames, he said.But really, the only way is to score more runs than the other team. Now, wellhave to hit a few home runs but when we dont, it just means weve gotta doother things better than everybody else.

Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate

brown-trevor-face-throw.jpg
AP

Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate

SACRAMENTO -- A young man named Clayton Blackburn walked into the home clubhouse at Raley Field on Tuesday decked out in Round Rock gear. 

"You're here for my start?" he said, smiling.

Sorry, Clayton, I was on Panda Watch for two days. But it was fun watching Blackburn, DFA’d in a weird move earlier this year, face former teammates. Blackburn hasn't had a great season with Texas, but he is still just 24 and he has gotten into terrific shape. Given what happened during his call-up last year, you should root for him to get a second chance. 

Blackburn gave up three runs over six innings against his former team. The River Cats won on Jarrett Parker’s walk-off homer to dead center with two outs in the ninth. Parker was one of many familiar faces in the lineup Tuesday. Here are some thoughts on guys you know, and guys you will: 

--- Trevor Brown is the backup catcher in Sacramento, which is certainly a fall from his run as Buster Posey's backup. Brown is batting .168 in what has been a very frustrating season for him. The groin injury that slowed him early lingered, he had a concussion, and he hasn't been able to find any BABIP luck. This year seems a lost one for a guy who was a big part of 2016. I’m still intrigued by his versatility.

--- Chris Shaw is the latest podcast guest. You can stream it here. We talked about his power, his move to left, thinking he was a Ray, and more. I didn't see many at-bats, but I saw enough in left field to be confident he'll be fine out there. 

--- Parker started in center field and made a nice running catch at the wall. He wouldn't hold up as a big league center fielder, but perhaps the Giants should throw him out there a few times down the stretch to see if he can be a backup option next season. Parker said he finally found his swing over the past few games. His rehab assignment ends in about a week, and he’s expected back in San Francisco. 

--- Reyes Moronta, who spent a day in the majors in May, was promoted to Triple-A. In his first inning, Drew Stubbs took him deep. I found that quirky. It's been a long season with far too many transactions. 

--- If Steven Duggar would stay healthy, he would probably make it up to SF in September. Unfortunately, his hamstring was tight again this week, keeping him out of San Jose’s lineup for a few days. Speaking of health: Tyler Beede’s groin injury will keep him out longer than just the standard DL time … Melvin Upton Jr. is still in Sacramento rehabbing a shoulder injury, but he’s not throwing yet so it’s hard to picture him making any noise before September call-up time …Christian Arroyo is in Arizona rehabbing from hand surgery. 

--- Derek Law was smiling because Derek Law is always smiling. He has a 4.32 ERA but said he feels much better than those results. “My slider is back,” Law said. He should be, too, when the Giants expand their roster. There are some other interesting relievers in Sacramento. A first baseman told me opposing hitters grumble about facing D.J. Snelten (1.84 ERA) and Tyler Rogers has a 1.94 ERA as a dirt-scraping right-hander. 

--- A teammate predicted Carlos Moncrief would hit .270 in the big leagues if called up, and he ended up getting that call Wednesday morning. Moncrief is a fun clubhouse addition. He gave Sandoval some good-natured heckling for talking to reporters after going 1 for 4. 

--- The Giants have had a lot of veterans visit San Jose this season. They all bought the postgame spread, but word around the block is that Madison Bumgarner provided the best meal. He had steak and lobster delivered to San Jose Muni. 

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Eduardo Nuñez left San Francisco in a strange way. The third baseman was traded in the middle of Tuesday night’s game and mostly said his goodbyes in a stairwell behind the home dugout at AT&T Park. Before joining the Red Sox, Nuñez took to his social media pages to send a message to the Giants and their fans. 

On Twitter, Nuñez thanked the organization for “the great opportunity and experiences learned” and wished the team the best of luck. His Instagram message was a bit longer. 

“I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing team,” Nuñez wrote. “I value the experiences learned during my time here and I will miss my teammates, the fans, and the beautiful city of San Francisco very much. Best wishes to the Giants organization during the rest of this season. God Bless.”

Nuñez is expected to join the Red Sox on Friday. Boston’s manager, John Farrell, told reporters that his new infielder will get “a high number of at-bats” despite the presence of top prospect Rafael Devers. 

"This is someone who's swinging the bat very well right now,” Farrell said, according to MassLive.com. "A high energy player that can run the bases well. He’s got really good line drive power so his .300-plus batting average to mix into this lineup is a good addition."