Giants focused on Pagan as Melky Cabrera escapes to Toronto

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Giants focused on Pagan as Melky Cabrera escapes to Toronto

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants did not view re-signing MelkyCabrera as a priority this offseason. Their focus was and is to bring back free-agent center fielder Angel Pagan.

Cabrera was a fallback option, and a conceptual one at that. The Giants never engaged him this offseason, and they only would've gotten involvedif certain folks in baseball operations could convince ownership to consider thepossibility.
So it was not an apple-cart upsetting moment for the Giantstoday when ESPN Deportes broke the news that Cabrera will sign with the TorontoBlue Jays for a two-year contract worth 16 million. The deal is reportedlypending a physical.

The guaranteed money was more than most in the industryexpected Cabrera to receive after he got popped for using exogenoustestosterone last summer and began serving a 50-game suspension on Aug. 15.Its certainly more than the Giants wouldve been willing to give Cabrera underany circumstances. Even if baseball ops could make a compelling case to CEO LarryBaer and ownership to bring back the disgraced outfielder, it wouldve been ona low-risk, one-year contract.

As enlightening as that internal debate wouldve been, itwont happen now.

Oh, and by the way: the Melk Men can circle June 4-5 ontheir calendars. Thats when the Blue Jays visit AT&T Park for aninterleague series. The Giants also play at Toronto May 14-15.

The Giants remain focused on re-signingPagan, and even though the expectation was that Pagan would let the market play out as Carlos Beltran did a year ago, Im told that there is greater optimism that a deal can be reachedbetween the two parties. Giants manager Bruce Bochy talked to Pagan onThursday, and planned to touch base with second baseman Marco Scutaro in the comingdays.

Pagan is looking for at least a three-year contract afterscoring 95 runs and leading the majors with 15 triples. There are other free-agentoutfield options such as Shane Victorino, Nick Swisher and Michael Bourn. ButBourn is expected to command the biggest salary of the bunch, and the Giantsneed a leadoff presence something Pagan provided forcefully after moving backto the No.1 spot in the lineup on Aug. 3.

RELATED: Angel Pagan stats 2012 game logs

Cabrera was plenty forceful in his 4 months as a Giant. Hewas the All-Star Game MVP and was leading the majors in hits and runs when hewas suspended.

As youll recall, Cabrera was eligible for the NLCS andWorld Series after serving the term of his suspension. But the Giants gave himthe 10-foot-pole treatment and declined to even let him work out at the clubsminor league complex to be a candidate to play in the postseason. That was duein large part to the way he tucked tail and left the clubhouse withoutexplanation following the announcement of his suspension; rumors of thepositive test began to circulate before that, and Cabrera lied to teammates,coaches and club officials when asked if they were true. A handler employed byhis agents, Sam and Seth Levinson, also got caught in a harebrained scheme thatincluded a phony product and a phony Web site in a thinly veiled ruse toconvince league officials that Cabrera had inadvertently taken a bannedsubstance.
Cabrera did not issue a confession and apology until afterthe suspension was announced and he had no other recourse but to try to repairhis image. He and his agents extended another olive branch by convincing unionand league officials to amend a rule that would allow him one extra hitlessat-bat to qualify him for the batting title; by changing the rule, it allowedGiants catcher and NL MVP Buster Posey to win the first batting crown by an NLcatcher in 70 years.

It was thought that Cabreras gesture, combined with the Asdecision to re-sign suspended pitcher Bartolo Colon, would create a climate in which the Giants could be more open-minded to re-signing Cabrera. But Im told no negotiations took placebetween the team and Cabrera. And that wasn't just a reflection on the Giants' priorities.

When a kid gets caught stealing acandy bar from a store, he doesnt want to walk into that store again.

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Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today. 

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija whirled and fired a strike to Eduardo Nuñez shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. With that, the Giants took another step back toward actual baseball.

Monday was the first day of live batting practice sessions, but the most important one took place thousands of miles east of Scottsdale Stadium. Johnny Cueto faced teenage prospects at the club’s facility in Santo Domingo, and Bruce Bochy said he would call Cueto to check in on his progress. 

The Giants are not concerned that Cueto — who is tending to his ill father — is missing so much of spring training. They know him well enough by now to know that Cueto paces himself and takes care of his body. They are, however, starting to get a little concerned about Cueto missing so much camp and then going straight to the World Baseball Classic. 

“The spring started early so he’s got plenty of time to get ready for (opening day),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The question will be will he be ready for the WBC. That’s the question we have to answer.”

Bochy said he would like to see Cueto in the 50-60 pitch range before he goes off to compete for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican team opens play March 9 at Marlins Park. 

“We’re going to talk about a lot of things,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where he’s at, see where he’s at mentally, and see how his father is doing.”

Bochy noted that Nolan Ryan used to show up to camp on March 1 and throw 80 mph, working his way up from there. The Giants view Cueto the same way, but at some point there will be a breaking point where the WBC participation becomes a real concern. At the very least, Bochy said, Cueto might be asked to join the DR team later in the tournament.