Preseason Giants Chatter

Preseason Giants Chatter

Feb. 9, 2010GIANTS PAGE

A few leftovers from the whirlwind of interviews we conducted Friday and Saturday at AT&T Park ... The parade of players that came through the temporary Comcast SportsNet Bay Area studio at AT&T Park started Friday morning with Tim Lincecum and ended Saturday afternoon with Pablo Sandoval. Nice bookends, I thought. I blogged this Friday, but it bears repeating in the wake of his performance on one of the Q&A stages at FanFest: Jeremy Affeldt is the most underrated character in Bay Area sports. Theres definitely a serious side to him, as evidenced by his Twitter account and the Jeremy Affeldt Foundation, but man, is this cat funny. With fellow reliever Brandon Medders serving as the not-so-straight man, Affeldt basically did an hour of impromptu standup and slayed. Bruce Bochy can be awfully boring before and after games, but to listen to him speak in a more casual and relaxed environment is to realize that your general perception of him might be off. Slingblade breaking down the sixth-inning double switch before a day game after a night game? Ill pass. Bochy unplugged, just talking ball? Count me in. You dont stay in the game at this level for this long without having a thing or two to teach the whippersnappers. Needless to say, Operation Panda was a hot topic with everyone. The general consensus: Good to get out in front of the problem early. Unspoken: Also good to get in front of it publicly. Granted, Sandoval is the baseball equivalent of Charles Barkley in that he can do things that other people his size simply cannot, but now that his weight is something of a public issue, he knows hell be held more accountable than ever. Sandoval looked about the same to me as he did last year. Maybe hes lost a few pounds; who really knows? He hasnt lost any swagger, thats for sure. He rolled into our room with shades atop his faux-hawk and dressed like he was on his way for MTV-Italys TRL. Was surprised to be a tad nervous before we started. Ive been talking to professional athletes for 19 years, and Im either friends or friendly with many of the players scheduled to come in. Why be nervous? Probably because Id never encountered quite this kind of setting as a writer: two chairs, about five feet apart, facing each other in a dark room, a camera and bright, hot lights pointed squarely at each mug. Unsettling, to say the least. Unlike Madison Bumgarner, who told me he was nervous something awful before his big-league debut and that the nerves never really went away, I got over my rookie jitters pretty quickly. It helped not having 35,000 people scrutinizing my every move. Asked about the No. 5 spot in the rotation, Bochy made no bones about it: Bumgarner is the guy. Asked about right field, he spoke of competition between Nate Schierholtz, John Bowker and others. A day later, Bowker and Schierholtz spoke at length about the competition and the difficulty of playing the position at AT&T Park. Elsewhere on that same day, Brian Sabean said the team sees Bowker as a left fielder. Nobody sees Sandoval as a shortstop, but I bet he could do it. Buster Posey, infielder. You might want to start getting used to that. It could happen. Soon. Wait, you mean more than 35,000 people are probably going to see those interviews at some point? Oh, no. Now Im nervous again.-- Mychael Urban

What's on your mind? Email Mychael and let him know. He may use it in his weekly Mailbag.

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.