Lewis Looks Like Odd Man Out


Lewis Looks Like Odd Man Out

Jan. 13, 2010Mychael Urban

Just got off a conference call featuring Aubrey Huff, Brian Sabean and Billy Bob Thornton's character from Slingblade I mean, Bruce Bochy.Interesting stuff on that call, and I'll get to some of what was said in a moment.It's something that wasn't said that grabbed my attention. A great many players were mentioned during the course of the 30-minute call, but not Fred Lewis.Lewis, whose star has fallen more quickly and dramatically than any player in recent Giants history, seems to be the odd man out after the offseason shuffle. A corresponding 40-man roster move to the Huff addition hasn't yet been announced, but Sabean said that a player will soon be designated for assignment (DFA). And while he didn't come close to hinting that it would be F-Lew, and a Giants source told me this morning that Lewis is not a DFA candidate, it was made clear on the call that Lewis isn't a candidate for much of anything in orange and black in 2010.

He's also out on minor-league options, so if Lewis doesn't make the team this spring -- if he's not traded or otherwise 86'd in the meantime -- he'll have to be placed on waivers.Amazing what a calendar year can do to a career. Lewis, you might remember, had a pretty nice season in 2008. He batted .282 with a .351 on-base percentage, 45 extra-base hits and 21 stolen bags. But he also made six errors in 112 games in left field for a fielding percentage under .970, and as one scouting report on him read heading into 2009, "there's not really any room for growth left in the 28-year-old."Nonetheless, the fan base seemed mildly enthused about Lewis going into last season. He'd seemed to establish himself as a player on the come, a guy on the verge of figuring it all out, a present and future lineup staple.Alas, after a decent April (.299 BA.420 OBP), he simply fell off the map, lost in a haze of bad at-bats, bad routes and more of the mental mistakes on the bases to which he was prone the year before. He put together a nice August (.412.524), but it was too little, too late -- as evidenced by the fact that he only got 34 at-bats for the month.So what happened? A Lewis apologist would say that Bochy gives up on his younger players too quickly, and Lewis is an example of such. Lewis detractors would point out that 28 isn't exactly young in baseball terms. Lewis turned 29 in December.What happened is that Lewis, somewhere along the line, lost his swagga. You could see it in his body language and on his face. You could even see it in his eyes, wraparound shades or not. And when you lose your confidence in professional sports, you're done. Is Fred Lewis done? Probably with the Giants. He certainly looks the part of a dynamic player -- chiseled frame and face, oozing athleticism. He just doesn't play the part very well anymore, and that's a little bit sad. Likable fella, F-Lew.But with Aaron Rowand, Nate Schierholtz, Mark DeRosa, Andres Torres, Eugenio Velez, John Bowker and now Huff as outfield options, not to mention some near-ready prospects, the best F-Lew can hope for is a change of scenery.And that's all I have to say about that. Here's what else went down on the call Bochy said his 1-5 hitters will mirror what I suggested in yesterday's lineup blog: Rowand, Freddy Sanchez, Panda, Huff, DeRosa. He didn't go any deeper than that, but we know it'll be some permutation of Edgar Renteria, the right fielder and the catcher in front of the pitcher. Huff will play some left field and right field during camp, just in case, but he's essentially been penciled in as the starter at first base. There will be no platoon at first. Not sure what that means for Travis Ishikawa, but you can bet he'll be used a lot as a defensive replacement. Huff says he's better on D than his rep suggests. Said it's hard to shake that bad-D label, and he's right. The label isn't inaccurate, though. Sabean confirmed what I said on Chronicle Live on Monday: Sandoval has gained weight since being left to his own devices after CampOperation Panda and returning to Venezuela. Sabean said he isn't worried, though. Said Pablo is "serving many masters" as a baseball god in his home country but will be coming back soon to get back to work. Schierholtz is the front-runner in right field but not a lock. Bochy mentioned Bowker and said "it will be competitive." Uncle. Free Nate! Sabean reiterated that he's prepared to go into the season with Madison Bumgarner as the No. 5 starter and suggested that his priority now is getting another reliever. That sound you hear is me banging the Kiko Calero drum. Again. Still. And finally, Sabean backed off on hisLarry Baer's recent Posey's-our-guy stance, intimating that a glorified backup catcher remains a possible get. All together now: Zzzzzzzz.That's all for now, folks. Peace, collard greens and "Just Breathe" by Pearl Jam to all --Mychael Urban

Hahn's excellence goes for naught as Angels walk off on A's

Hahn's excellence goes for naught as Angels walk off on A's

ANAHEIM — The night should have been about Jesse Hahn, who had every pitch working and rendered Angels hitters helpless over eight innings.

Instead, the A’s postgame comments Tuesday were filled with second-guessing and do-overs that they wish came their way in a 2-1, 11-inning defeat to the Los Angeles Angels.

The game-winner came off the bat of Kole Calhoun, who singled in Danny Espinosa from second to sink the A’s in their first extra-inning contest of the season. Ryan Madson went outside with an 0-1 fastball and Calhoun spanked it into left-center, a pitch that Madson said he never should have thrown.

“I wasn’t comfortable with that pitch,” Madson said afterward. “I should have definitely stepped off and re-thought it, so I didn’t throw it with conviction. It looked like it was off the plate but something he could handle. I learned my lesson to throw a pitch I’m convicted in.”

Calhoun swung through a changeup on Madson’s first pitch. Josh Phegley, who was behind the plate calling pitches, said he didn’t want to go right back to that pitch.

“(You) kind of obviously second-guess yourself after the game-winning hit is hit off a pitch you just called,” Phegley said. “I thought about going back to (the changeup). I saw in my head him kind of making adjustments and just looping one over the infield, getting the same result. … I thought it was a good pitch and I’ll trust that guy’s fastball any day of the year. It just was not the result we were looking for.”

Phegley was set up to be a hero himself, after he came off the bench to pinch-hit for Vogt and smacked the first pitch from Jose Alvarez in the 10th for a homer to right-center that snapped a scoreless tie. But Mike Trout — who else? — answered with a home run to lead off the bottom of the 10th off Santiago Casilla. He sliced a 2-0 pitch off the plate for a drive that cleared the short right field wall just inside the foul pole.

It was Trout’s 23rd career homer against the A’s, his most off any team.

“I don’t know anybody that hits a home run right down the right field line on a ball that looks like it’s by him,” A’s manager Bob Melvin said. “There aren’t too many guys that are gonna do that. Maybe he and Khris Davis. It’s not like it’s a bad pitch.”

Hahn wound up with a no-decision from an outing that might have been his sharpest as an Athletic, perhaps even more so than his shutout of Detroit on Memorial Day, 2015. He allowed just one hit over eight innings, facing two batters over the minimum in that time, striking out six and walking two.

“I feel like I literally had everything working for me today,” Hahn said. “I think it might have been my best command I’ve had of all pitches.”

Hahn, who didn’t make the 25-man roster coming out of spring, is finding his groove since replacing Raul Alcantara in the rotation. In three starts he’s allowed just nine hits and four earned runs over 20 innings, for a 1.80 ERA.

“He pitched as well as we’ve seen him,” Melvin said. “He had his best sink of the year by far. His best sink in a while, and a good curve ball. He really had it working tonight.”

Unfortunately for Hahn and the A’s, his excellent start didn’t come with a ‘W’ attached.


Melvin said center fielder Jaff Decker felt something in his foot on a steal attempt of second in which he was thrown out easily without a slide attempt.

“He got taped up and he was OK,” Melvin said.


Crawford strains right groin in eighth inning of Giants' 2-1 loss to Dodgers

Crawford strains right groin in eighth inning of Giants' 2-1 loss to Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Crawford was always going to miss the final two games of this series to attend the funeral of his sister-in-law. The Giants are now hoping an MRI result shows that Crawford won’t miss any time beyond his three days on bereavement leave. 

Crawford pulled up with a right groin strain as he rounded first on a base hit in the eighth. After jogging a bit in the outfield, he was pulled from the game. 

“It tightened up,” Crawford said. “I haven’t really felt anything like that before. I’ve never really had anything like this before. It just felt tight. I didn’t feel a pop or anything, and from what I hear, that’s good news.”

Crawford’s liner off Kenley Jansen sent Buster Posey from first to third. Cody Bellinger's throw went into third and Crawford was busting it for second when his leg shut down. He said he could feel the pain in his groin as he tried to run it off. 

“(Trainer Dave Groeschner) told me it wasn’t a great idea to try and push it,” Crawford said. 

Ordinarily, the Giants would send Crawford for an MRI on Wednesday, but he is flying down to Los Angeles for two days of services. Crawford originally told manager Bruce Bochy that he could be back in time for Friday’s game, but the Giants — already playing without Denard Span and with a short bench — were planning to put Crawford on the bereavement list and call up an extra position player. 

Eduardo Nuñez moved over to short in the ninth and he’s Crawford’s primary backup. Christian Arroyo, called up Monday, can also play the position. The Giants have Kelby Tomlinson and Orlando Calixte on the 40-man and one of them is likely to join the team Wednesday. 

--- Arroyo and Bellinger are two of the NL West’s top prospects, and they got their first big league hits on the same night. Arroyo got a first-pitch fastball at the letters from Clayton Kershaw and roped it into left field. 

“I figured he would come at me,” Arroyo said. “I said, ‘Hey man, see a heater and take a good swing at it.’ I just envisioned getting (a big league hit) but I didn’t think it would be off a guy the caliber of Kershaw. In the moment I was excited. That’s something you don’t forget.”

Arroyo’s family won’t forget it, either. His parents and two younger siblings were here and they went nuts as Arroyo rounded first. That’s always a cool moment. 

--- Ty Blach has three big league hits and all of them are off Kershaw. 

“Sometimes you just swing hard and get lucky, I guess,” he said. 

There’s only one active pitcher who has more hits against Kershaw than Blach. That’s Madison Bumgarner, who has taken him deep twice. A year ago, Bumgarner walked into the video room and asked Matt Duffy if he wanted advice on hitting Kershaw. On Tuesday, he gave Blach some advice. 

“Madison before the game came up and said he’s going to throw you up and in because he threw it low and away last (year),” Blach said. “I was looking for a pitch in that vicinity.”

Bumgarner knows Kershaw well. Blach got a fastball up and he knocked it over a drawn-in outfield for a double. 

--- We’re 10 paragraphs into this story without a score. The Giants lost 2-1, but it’s hard to dissect this one too much. When the Dodgers get 25 outs from Kershaw and Kenley Jansen, they’re going to win that game nine out of 10 times. 

Kershaw lowered his season ERA to 2.29. The Giants gave him a little bit of trouble early, but he turned it on in the middle innings. 

“He settled in and he was as tough as he normally is,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The thing you hope is to create some chances. We had a couple.”

The eventual winning run came across on a strange play in the fourth. With runners on the corners, Adrian Gonzalez hit a bouncer to first. Posey looked Justin Turner back to third and then threw to Crawford at second for one out. Crawford spun and fired a strike home to try and get Turner, who had taken off. The throw skipped in the dirt and Nick Hundley couldn’t handle it. Turner made it 2-1, and that was that. 

Bochy said he had no problem with how that play went down. All the decisions were right, it was just a tough double-play to pull off. 

“I’d like to say I should have made a better throw but I got rid of it as fast as I could and I put as much on it as I could,” Crawford said. 

The Giants were a couple inches behind Turner on Tuesday. On Monday, they were just ahead of him, with Posey picking him off second to end the game. It’s been that type of series between these two.

--- I saw a lot of grumbling on Twitter about Yasmani Grandal pulling balls back into the strike zone in the late innings. Be careful what you wish for, Giants fans. Posey might be the best pitch-framer in the game. Any change that would keep guys like Grandal from fooling umps would hurt the Giants more than most.