Results tagged ‘ Tim Lincecum ’

Lights, Camera, Photo Day…

Early Sunday morning, Scottsdale Stadium turned into a photo studio.  Each spring, media outlets ranging from MLB, USA Today, CSNBayArea, and Baseball Digest just to name a few, set up shop to capture head shots, video and more for each member of the Giants.  Players begin lining up at 7am and go from station to station (over 10) to have their photo taken which will be seen on website profiles, scoreboard and television headshots and even baseball cards.  Here are some of the highlights from today’s #SFGPhotoDay:

Another Day in Paradise

It was Day 2 of the #SFGiants Full Squad workouts here in Scottsdale, AZ.  Not much to report, but some of the highlights include

The arrival of Brandon Belt

 

Live pitching from Matt Cain and Javier Lopez

 

Green Screen fun with Brandon Belt

 

Sit down interview with Hunter Pence

 

Some great Live BP sessions

 

https://twitter.com/SFGiants/status/436595618710953984/photo/1/large

Take a look at the rest of the day 

 

And don’t forget…tomorrow, you can watch the Giants practice LIVE on sfgiants.com/LIVE beginning at 10am PT

2014 #SFGiants Town Hall

Back on Friday, January 31st, the Giants came together for the taping of the 1st Inside the Clubhouse, Town Hall.  In front of a select number of Giants Season Ticket Holders, Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow moderated this lively discussion, catching us up on what everyone did this offseason.  We also got a chance to meet some of the newer Giants, Michael Morse and David Huff.  Here are some of the best tweets from the night followed by the Town Hall in it’s entirety:

 

Watch the 2014 Inside the Clubhouse: Town Hall

#SFGFest – A perfect mix of sunshine, #SFGiants players, fans and Orange Jerseys!

On Saturday, 35,000 #SFGiants fans clad in Orange & Black descended upon AT&T Park for the 21st Annual Giants/KNBR Fan Fest.  Image

Among the highlights were the many autograph and photograph booths around the park, the Q&A Stages, as well as fans exploring the Clubhouse, dugouts and centerfield of AT&T Park.  Every Giant in attendance was donning their new #OrangeFriday Jerseys.  Here’s a look back through the eyes of Social Media

https://twitter.com/timmysgirl55/statuses/430029844143812608

Top of the Class

It is the nature of diehard fans to be impatient. This is a good thing. They push a team’s management. Where’s the long-ball hitter we need? Where’s the rocket-armed reliever? Let’s make a deal, and let’s do it now.

But in the labyrinth of offices inside any major-league baseball organization, alongside the up-to-the-minute-what-can-we-do-now executives and analysts, are the futurists. They’re the ones constructing the team we’ll see next year and five years from now.

No team in recent years has planned for the future better than the Giants.

That’s what Baseball America concluded in its just-published analysis of the last four draft classes.

Here’s what Baseball America’s Jim Callis reported yesterday:

“We grade every draft from 2005-08 in the new Prospect Handbook, and no team outdid San Francisco’s 3.50 GPA. Vice president of player personnel Dick Tidrow ran those first three efforts, with scouting director John Barr coming aboard in 2008.

“The Giants’ signature pick was stealing two-time Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum after nine teams passed on him in 2006. San Francisco gets an A for Lincecum alone in 2006, though they also found fringe big league infielders Emmanuel Burriss (sandwich round), Ryan Rohlinger (sixth), Brian Bocock (ninth) and Matt Downs (36th).

“San Francisco was the only club to earn three As, also getting top grades in 2007 for Madison Bumgarner (first), with some help from righthander Tim Alderson (first), second baseman Nick Noonan (sandwich) and big league surprise Dan Runzler (fifth), and in 2008. That last group could be San Francisco’s best hitting crop in years, led by Buster Posey (first), third baseman Conor Gillaspie (sandwich), outfielder Roger Kieschnick (third) and shortstop Brandon Crawford (fourth).”

As fans, we don’t have to be patient. That’s not our jobs. But it’s good know it’s somebody’s job, and that the Giants happen to have some of the best people doing it.

From the Horses’ Mouths

ITC Pic1.jpg

It sure looks weird to see the clubhouse in the off-season. Even filled as it was last night with fans in folding chairs, it was like walking into an abandoned building. There’s a kind of ghostly loneliness about it without players slapping domino tiles on table tops and answering fan mail in front of their lockers and yanking down the bills of their caps as they rush out to take early BP. Is April really still three-and-a-half months away?

The next best thing to the actual baseball season, though, is talking about it.

Up on a temporary stage, erected on the far right of the room near the starting pitchers’ lockers, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was sitting next to general manager Brian Sabean and taking questions from moderator Greg Papa.

“He’s the best all-around player that I’ve ever seen because he can play everywhere,” Bochy was saying. “He has a very similar body type to Tony Gwynn.”

He was talking about Pablo Sandoval, who embarked on a rigorous conditioning and weight-loss program during the off-season, a one-man camp the Giants dubbed “Operation Panda.”

“Obviously,” Sabean cracked, nodding at Bochy and himself, “we haven’t been in the same camp.”

Packed into the room, in rows of chairs bordered by four walls of lockers, were season-ticket holders who had been invited to talk baseball with Bochy, Sabean, managing general partner Bill Neukom and relief pitcher Sergio Romo.

Asked by Papa if two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum’s stuff matches up with the all-time greats, Bochy didn’t hesitate.

“Sure it does. He’s by far the best pitcher I’ve ever seen. When you have four pitches, especially the best or close to the best changeup in baseball right now, he’s up there among the greats. He’s a thinker out there and knows what the opposing team is doing and that’s why he’s won two Cy Young Awards.”

What’s interesting about him,” Sabean said, “is in college he would throw 140 pitches on a Friday night and then be the closer for his team on Sunday. He’s proved to have a rubber arm and has an inner strength that other people don’t have. He’s fearless and he thinks that on any given day that he’s better than anyone else.”

Perhaps the highlight of the evening was Sergio Romo. He’s a player that fans don’t know very well yet, and last night they got a glimpse of his sense of humor and his boyish excitement for the game – starting with the fact he was texting his mother as he climbed onto the stage to tell he was going to be on television.

You’re from Brawley, California, near Los Angeles,” Papa said, “so who was your favorite team growing up?”

No comment,” Romo said, smiling. “Let’s just say I started hating the Dodgers the second I put on a Giants uniform.”

After struggling with injuries last season, he said he’s “very excited for the season to start . . . I miss my number 54 on my back.”

When Papa opened the discussion to questions, one of the first was an update on the Giants’ up and coming players.

“Peguero is a young outfielder that we just placed on our 40-man roster,” Sabean said. “He’s a lot like Sandoval in that he has a lot of energy. Thomas Neal came into his own last year and developed an all-around game. Brandon Crawford is going to be our shortstop of the future. We have a flow of talent that people will be proud of.”

As for the readiness of pitcher Madison Bumgarner and catcher Buster Posey, Bochy said, “I really think that they can start for us next year. Posey is gonna be a front line catcher and he’s on the fast track. Bumgarner did a heck of a job last year when Timmy went down. Here are two tremendous kids that stood out and both held their own. I’m curious to see how Buster looks this spring.”

One fan wanted to know about keeping Lincecum and fellow pitcher Matt Cain as Giants for the long haul.

“Cain has two more years before free agency,” Sabean said, “and Lincecum has four more and is going through arbitration right now. We are in a good situation because they both want to be Giants for a long time.”

Sabean also addressed the decision not to resign veteran pitcher Brad Penny.

“We had a short window and in our estimation we thought we had home court in our situation. We couldn’t bring ourselves to overpay when we have Madison Bumgarner in the wings.”

Still want more? Tune in to a full broadcast of the event on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area on January 15 at 6:30 p.m.

Some shots from the taping:

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Audience Member - Season Ticketholder.jpg

Bochy.jpg

Neukom.jpg

Group Shot.jpg

Tim and Willie

The greatest Giant of all time, and the greatest Giant of this time, held court in separate rooms in the bowels of AT&T Park this afternoon.

Willie Mays, in his ever-present Giants’ cap and jacket, fielded questions from wide-eyed Giants’ rookies about the toughest pitchers he ever faced (Koufax, Gibson, Drysdale and Rush) and his greatest influence (his father) during his reign as the best player in baseball.

Down the hall, in the Giants press conference room, newly crowned two-time Cy Young winner Tim Lincecum fielded questions from reporters about his hopes for the future (World Series ring) and his greatest influence (yes, his father) during his two-year reign as the best pitcher in baseball.

The concrete corridor connecting the two rooms felt like a wormhole in an orange-and-black universe, a shortcut through time and space.

“I couldn’t have ever seen this happening growing up,” Lincecum was saying.

He was flanked by Bruce Bochy, Dave Righetti and Brian Sabean, who struggled to put into words just how remarkable Lincecum’s performance has been, winning back-to-back Cy Youngs in his first two full seasons in the majors.

“It’s almost overwhelming,” Righetti said. “Where do you go from here?”

You go where Mays went.

Into the history books.

Because you can read and hear everything from Lincecum’s press conference elsewhere, I’ll bring you the highlights of Mays’ lively chat with the Giants’ draftees on the second-to-last day of their winter conditioning camp.

(I’ll try to bring you a postmortem from Lincecum sometime in the next week.)

The 25 or so young players sat in chairs encircling Mays, who sat behind a small table.

“All right, guys, c’mon, what else?” Mays said, prompting the next question.

Ever get timed in the 60?

“No, no! I didn’t run! I told them, ‘I can’t run the ball over the fence.’ When they were out running, I was asleep in the clubhouse. They got you just running here? You doing some hitting?”

No, the players said. Just conditioning work.

“That’s not fun! Maybe I should say something. You want to hit a little bit and then go run. You got to enjoy yourself.”

He told them about his struggles against Drysdale, Gibson, Koufax and Bob Rush then added: “I made up for it on all the other guys, the scrubs. I destroyed them.”

Best players you ever saw?

Robert Clemente, Mays said. Barry Bonds – “If I don’t say Barry, he’ll start a fight.” Bobby Bonds (Now, he could run!” ) , Maury Wills (“Played a good shortstop.”) and Frank Robinson (“Triple Crown winner”).

What did you do in the off-season?

“Work, man, work! That’s a very good question. I played basketball, football – touch football – they didn’t know I played football! I had a 32 waistline. I worked out and played all the time. No time to lay around. Had to keep myself in shape. Played winter ball two times.”

We’ve heard from other major-league players about what makes a good teammate. What’s your definition?

“In 1962, they made me captain. I positioned the outfielders, the infielders, I’d call pitches from centerfield – he didn’t have to take them but I wanted him throw a pitch I thought I could catch. You had to get 25 guys playing together even though nine or ten don’t play much at all and it feels bad. I’d go to the manager and say, ‘I want this guy to play because he needs to feel part of the team.’ The guy would go 9 for 10 and he’d go sit down and feel like a part of the team. When guys had problems at home, they’d come to me and I’d call their wives. I knew the wives better than I knew the players!”

Your greatest baseball achievement?

“Man, I had so many! I think my greatest achievement was when I signed my major-league contract.”

Greatest moment?

“Hitting four home runs in Milwaukee [with 8 RBI] was the greatest thing I ever did.”

Best park to hit in?

“Wrigley. To me the ball went out of there pretty good.”

Worst park to hit in?

“Candlestick. The wind’s always blowing in. We put a glove to a fence to see if it would fall and it didn’t fall. We could even hit it out in batting practice.

“I know you guys are saying, ‘Oh, hell, he didn’t do all this stuff. Oh yes I did.”

What was your farthest home run?

“I never worried about that! You just get it over the fence! You don’t care how far it went.”

What effect did race have back when you played?

“We went to some towns and I couldn’t stay in the same hotel. I remember once in Hagerstown, they dropped me off on the other side of the tracks. You guys from the South, you know what the other side of the track is. So they drop me off and I’m in a hotel, and at 2 o’clock in the morning two or three guys come through the window and sleep the rest of the night on my floor, and then at 6 a.m. they get up and go back out the window. They did the same thing the next night, watching out for me. Nothing was ever said.

“My father told me no matter what anybody said, never to fight. Turn the other cheek. I’d call him up and he’d ask, “Did you fight today?’ Back then, you had to make sure you were bigger than those people who called you names. They called you all kinds of names. But I knew for me to get ahead, I had to take all that kind of stuff. Every time somebody called me a name, I hit the ball.”

What did you do in a slump?

“A slump is going to happen to everybody in some way. For me, a slump was 0-for-10. Everyone has a different way of getting out of a slump. I’d get out by swinging inside-out and getting a hit that way.”

Throughout Mays’ talk, the young guys snapped photos with their cell phone, leaning close, recording forever their moment with the greatest player who ever stepped on a baseball field.

When Mays left, he rode a golf cart down the concrete corridor to Mike Murphy’s office inside the clubhouse. Then Lincecum, finally finished with his round of interviews, stopped by. Mays rose from his chair.

“Don’t get up!” Lincecum said. “You’re getting up for me?”

“Congratulations!” Mays said. He shook Lincecum’s hand.

They exchanged pleasantries as cameras snapped.

“Enjoy this,” Mays told him.

Lincecum said he would, thanked him and left, smiling and shaking his head at the whirlwind day. He still had more interviews to do – still more questions about how he does what he does. But Lincecum doesn’t have a clear answer to the question any more than Mays ever did.

Sometimes there are none.

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Off-Season – But Not Time Off

Giants batting coach Hensley “Bam-Bam” Meulens is wasting no time diving into his new job. He has gathered John Bowker, Travis Ishikawa, Nate Schierholtz and minor-league first baseman Brett Pill for a six-day hitting clinic at AT&T starting on Monday. Then he’ll fly down to Venezuela with Bowker, who will play winter ball in that country’s extremely competitive league. Schierholtz is going to Puerto Rico. (I’m not sure yet what the other two are doing.)

I’ll try to grab some time with Meulens during a break in the action on Monday and share what I learn.

I’m going down to Arizona on Tuesday with some of the video guys from the Giants. We’ll be checking in with Pablo Sandoval, who is in the midst of his own personal conditioning camp with team trainers.

Pablo ended his spectacular season with the second-best batting average in the National League (.330), 3rd in doubles (44), 4th in hits (189), 6th in total bases (318) and slugging percentage (.556), 7th in extra base hits (74). But he wants to get better, so he has committed himself not only to developing a new regimen of physical exercise but also to learning how to eat healthy. He also wants to work on improving his English pronunciations and educate himself about Facebook and blogging – all for the purpose of communicating and connecting more with the fans.

Got a text-message from Tim Lincecum earlier this week. He’s in Seattle right now visiting family but will be back in SF next week and will stay through the winter. He, too, is developing a workout regimen to get even stronger. He seems to be all-muscle already – his percentage of body fat has got to be almost zero. So I’m not sure what exactly he wants to improve. I hope to chat with him when he’s back in town and will let you know.

The Giants held a three-hour meeting Wednesday of the entire staff. They went over highlights of the 2009 season and laid out plans and goals for 2010. (Orange Fridays are coming back!) There was particular focus, as you might imagine, on improving offensive production, including a better on-base percentage and a more consistent one-through-five batting lineup. Brian Sabean’s staff talked of identifying possible trades or free-agent signings. Any trade, managing general partner Bill Neukom explained, would have to meeting the following criteria:

· Does this player significantly improve the team’s win-loss record?

· How much money will he cost?

· How much talent do the Giants give up for him?

· Does this player’s arrival thwart the progress of a top homegrown prospect?

· Does this player fit in with the team chemistry?

What struck me most, though, in the meeting was how much was accomplished in 2009 – and what a great foundation it provides for next season and beyond.

Some 2009 facts that stand out:

· Best home record in the NL and improved overall record by 16 wins over 2008.

· Best starting rotation in baseball (fewest runs allowed, most shutouts and most strikeouts). Lincecum led the league in strikeouts for the second consecutive year, was the 2009 All-Star Game starting pitcher and again was named NL Sporting News Pitcher of the Year.

· Bullpen strength: Jeremy Affeldt led the NL in holds (33) and Brian Wilson tied for third in the NL in saves (38).

· Great team chemistry: This team – in particular, the relatively unknown group of young players — won the hearts of the fans. And they did so by working hard day in and day out and playing with excitement and energy. As a result, Giants’ attendance stayed nearly the same this year from last year – even in a down economy — and the team set record television ratings (up 37 percent on Comcast over 2008). The veterans were fantastic with the young guys – everyone from Randy Johnson to Edgar Renteria to Juan Uribe stepped up as unofficial mentors and teachers.

· The deepening pool of emergent talent: Five of the Giants’ seven minor-league teams reached the championship game in their respective leagues (three teams won championships). The Giants’ affiliates combined for the best record among all major-league organizations. Catcher Buster Posey was named Topps/Minor League Player of the Year. Others, such as Madison Bumgarner, Roger Kieschnick and Brandon Crawford, established themselves as exceptional prospects. This is a great sign that the Giants’ investment in the farm system is paying off.

· Valuable late-season experience: Playing meaningful baseball in September gave younger players a foundation on which they can build in the seasons to come.

Here’s something else from the meeting that I loved, though it has nothing to do with baseball. The Giants made a real commitment to making AT&T the greenest ballpark in the country. In 2008, it managed to recycle 40 percent of all the garbage and other waste. In 2009, it recycled 67 percent. Pretty amazing.

More next week.

The Art of Chemisty

Before the All-Star break, I was talking to Aaron Rowand about Juan Uribe. Uribe is such a popular guy in the clubhouse, and I knew almost nothing about him. Rowand and Uribe had played together in Chicago.

“He’s always laughing,” Rowand said. “He likes messing with everybody.”

Rowand was standing in the dugout before batting practice. Pablo Sandoval bounded up the steps past us and onto the field. Then Jeremy Affeldt. And Tim Lincecum. 

“When you look at this team, we have guys who like to have fun,” Rowand said. “They’re there to play baseball, but they know how to fun, too.”

I asked him how important that is. Some people dismiss chemistry as a factor in a team’s success. If you have talent, you win, no matter how well or poorly the players got along. Did Rowand think chemistry matters?

“Absolutely,” he said.

And on this Giants team, he said, the chemistry has been evolving since the start of spring training.

“When you’re putting a team together, it’s not just about quality players. It’s about quality people, too,” he said. “There’s the personality factor. If you don’t get along, it’s tough to play together on the field. I think unless you’ve played sports at a high level it might be hard to understand how much (good chemistry) means to playing well on the field. If everyone’s going their separate ways, that can’t help you play together as a team on the field.

“You’ve got to give a lot of credit to Brian Sabean for putting the rights guys together. We have guys here who are just coming into their own – Matty, Timmy, Brian Wilson. Then you add in guys who bring intensity, like Randy Johnson.

“He’s been wonderful for the guys in here. He’s intense but he’ll laugh, joke around. He’s not what we expected. We’re very pleasantly surprised how personable he is with his teammates. We all feel really lucky to part of one of the biggest games of his career.

“There’s no measurement for chemistry,” Rowand said, “but it’s big. It’s bigger than I think people realize.”

(If you haven’t already seen it, look at the story on the front page of USA Today today (July 16) by Jorge Ortiz. It’s all about chemistry, in particular how much fun the Giants are having this season.)

Emptying the notebook

Miscellaneous notes collected during the home stand:

?    From the PlayBall Luncheon April 3 at the Hilton: During the autograph signing period before lunch, reliever Jeremy Affeldt was stationed at a table next to Tim Lincecum. The line for Tim snaked through the ballroom. Affeldt attracted the occasional straggler. “See? I’m able to drink my entire Diet Coke,” Affeldt joked. “He hasn’t even taken a sip of his Sprite. No one even knows I’m a player.”
?    Lincecum, notoriously introverted in public, has blossomed this season. At the Hilton, one man thrust his three-year-old son onto Lincecum’s lap for a picture. Then the man’s wife stepped up and handed Lincecum their four-month-old. With the deft of a politician, Lincecum shifted the three-year-old to his right arm and held the baby with his left. Cracked Affeldt, laughing at the spectacle, “He is sweating profusely right now.” Before the mother retrieved her baby, she had Lincecum sign the baby’s tiny T-shirt. “OK,” Lincecum said, “that’s a first.”
?    I spent some time with Fred Lewis recently for a Giants Magazine story (for Issue No. 3). He’s still working on advice he received from Willie Mays during spring training. Mays told him that to get most of his arm he needed to grip the ball across the seams. Mays showed him how in the blink of an eye he could grab the ball from his glove and manipulate it in his hand so his fingers were across the seam by the time he cocked his hand back to throw. “His hands are like twice the size of mine,” Lewis said, suggesting that perhaps this is the reason he can’t master the move yet. “It’s hard!” he said. He keeps practicing, though, because Mays told him, “If you grip the ball right, you don’t have to worry about how strong your arm is.”
?    Lewis also related the story of his first encounter with Mays last season. “Lewis? That you?” Mays asked when he came across him in the clubhouse. “What’re you doing diving for the ball?” Mays apparently had gone apoplectic when he saw Lewis make a diving catch. Lewis respectfully reminded Mays that he had, after all, made the catch and wasn’t that all that mattered? “You’re gonna get hurt! ” Mays said. “When I was playing I ain’t never had to dive! You’re fast – get to the ball. Stay on your feet. You never need to dive – you’re gonna miss games.”
?    Great news about Joey Martinez. Small hairline fractures and a concussion. Head injuries have a way of sneaking up on you, though. He’ll have to take it really easy, I would think, to make sure there’s no swelling.
?    Interesting story in the New York Times science section on Tuesday. It looked at a computer program that can simulate baseball games using different criteria. It simulates not just one season’s worth of games, but 100 seasons’ worth to eliminate random fluctuations. One finding: Aggressiveness on the base paths is generally counterproductive. A researcher looked at a recent team that stole a lot of bases, the 2008 Rays, and another, the 2005 A’s, that barely stole at all. He switched their strategies to see what happened. The A’s scored 20 fewer runs per season by running more. And the Rays, by running less, scored 47 more runs per season.
?    On my schedule are several trips down to San Jose to watch the Single A Giants. I’m hoping to get down there this Sunday. They play at Municipal Stadium at 2 p.m. against Stockton.

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