Talking Giants Baseball: A San Francisco Giants/Baseball Blog: March 2014

Sunday, March 23, 2014

Budweiser, Ozzie Smith hope to make MLB Opening Day a national holiday

Children playing hooky from school to catch an Opening Day baseball game could be a thing of the past if Budweiser has its way.

Budweiser, the official beer of Major League Baseball, said it wants to make Opening Day a national holiday. The beer company said in a YouTube video it has received more than 100,000 signatures, enough to get a formal response from the White House.

"The White House has heard us," former St. Louis Cardinal Shortstop and spokesman for the campaign Ozzie Smith said in the video. "Let's make Opening Day a holiday."

Other retired players and former managers are joining Smith in Budweiser's "Make Opening Day a Holiday" campaign, a Budweiser spokesman said. Budweiser has released a video on its YouTube page with former baseball players talking about what Opening Day means to them.

Among those supporters are former Oakland Athletic Eric Byrnes and former Cincinnati Red Sean Casey.

It is fitting that a Red is featured in a YouTube video because for many years, the first pitch of the season was traditionally in Cincinnati.


Budweiser is not stopping there. They are also releasing a limited-edition San Francisco Giants Budweiser can, one of 23 MLB teams featured.

Friday, March 7, 2014

Bruce Bochy: San Francisco Giants Second Baseman Marco Scutaro "days away from live BP"

Marco Scutaro at the Giants 2012 World Series Parade.
San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro's return to full baseball activity has been pushed back for at least another week, according to Comcast SportsNet Bay Area.

The Giants originally planned for Scutaro to play this weekend, but Bruce Bochy told CSN Bay Area that will not happen. In fact, Bochy acknowledged the club might have to make alternative plans for Opening Day if Scutaro is not ready to play soon.

“If you ask me at the end of next week and he’s not playing or close to playing, we’ll have to have another plan here,” Bochy said after Friday's 5-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.

The Giants planned to limit Scutaro's spring training anyway as he recovers from chronic back and hip issues which hampered him last year, but Bochy said he would like Scutaro to get at least 30 to 35 at-bats before the season starts.

As the calendar turns towards April with no Scutaro playing in exhibition games, the likelihood of him starting at second base on March 31 in Arizona is becoming less and less.

Joaquin Arias or Tony Abreu would probably get the nod on Opening Day if Scutaro is not ready to go, although infielder Ehire Adrianza has opened some eyes in the infield this spring.

But don't tell Scutaro he won't be ready when the bell rings. He told John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle Friday he will be ready for Opening Day because he has seen improvement with his back.

And his bat would be hard to replace in the second spot of the batting order. Scutaro hit .297 with a .357 OBP last season in 127 games, playing many of those games with an injured finger.

The good news, as Scutaro told the Chronicle, is there's still three weeks left in the Cactus League season. If Scutaro is not close to returning by this time next week, Brian Sabean may need to explore adding more depth to the position via trade.

Wednesday, March 5, 2014

Giants starting pitchers sharp early in spring training

Starting pitchers Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, and Tim Hudson were question marks coming into 2014, but they have made a good first impression early in spring training for the San Francisco Giants.

Hudson made his spring debut against the Arizona Diamondbacks Sunday and proved his fractured ankle was behind him, pitching two no-hit innings. He was somewhat efficient, throwing 27 pitches in two innings, and he effectively pitched to contact with that sinker--like classic Hudson.

Vogelsong followed Madison Bumgarner, who pitched two scoreless innings of his own Friday, with two shutout innings and a strikeout against the Milwaukee Brewers. Vogelsong was throwing strikes and with movement, a formula that made him successful in 2011 and 2012.

Vogelsong is hoping his 2013 season was an aberration, where he had a 5.73 ERA in 19 starts. He was injured for half the year with a broken hand after he was hit by a pitch while batting in May.

Tim Lincecum pitching against the Padres in the Cactus League
Perhaps the most anticipated spring training start was from Tim Lincecum, who beefed up his offseason workout by throwing in a warehouse he rented out. Lincecum, who has not been the sharpest in past spring trainings, is looking to come out of the gate strong.

Although he ran into some trouble in his Cactus League debut Monday, it was almost a perfect tune-up for him.

After pitching a 1-2-3 first inning against the San Diego Padres, Lincecum gave up a leadoff double and a one-out walk in the second inning. But he got out of the jam by showing good command--retiring the next two hitters on a strikeout and groundout.

Instead of nibbling and losing his composure with runners on, Lincecum kept throwing quality strikes with good location and movement. It was a perfect outing for because he proved early on he could get out of his own mess and avoid a big inning that happened all too often last year.

Last season, hitters had a .352 OBP with runners in scoring position against Lincecum, which perpetuated rallies.

And in 2014, Lincecum's runners left-on-base percentage was about 69 percent, which is below average, according to MLB FanGraphs. In comparison, FanGraphs said Bumgarner's left-on-base percentage was nearly 76 percent, which is above average.

Lincecum is hoping to stop rallies this season instead of fuel them.

Google Search

The Mailbag is open. Contact me with your questions.

Questions? Comments? Feedback? E-mail my blog mailbag at Your question may be posted on my blog, along with answers.