A’s a known quantity; Giants? It doesn’t get more S.F.
SAN FRANCISCO — The team president has been suspended. The new scoreboard remains unfinished, as presumably is the roster.
And the Giants completed a losing spring getting swept by the other team in town — well, team from the city across the Bay that has labeled itself “The Town.”
That’s the A’s, who have plenty of punch, enough pitching and the confidence from a season that led to the playoffs.
“We’re not the sleeper team, the underdog, the team that nobody thinks about,” said Bob Melvin, the Oakland manager.
Thoughts about the Giants, who lost all three games of the weekend series to Oakland, including Tuesday night’s rain-shortened six-inning, semi-washout, 4-2, at “wow, look at all those empty seats” Oracle Park. (Yes, they told us attendance was 24,992. Ha!) Well, it doesn’t get more S.F., to borrow an advertising slogan.
The A’s, who lost two league games to the Mariners in Tokyo, get a chance for a restart on Thursday afternoon in Oakland against the Angels and their $430 million man, Mike Trout. It’s “Opening Day” followed Friday by opening night.
“I think it’s a good marketing ploy by some creative people,” said Melvin, who insisted the past few weeks — Cactus League, American League in Japan, back to exhibition games — have been “surreal.”
For the Giants, what’s happened has been only too real. Major League Baseball bounced Larry Baer, the chief executive, until July 1, suspended for the incident when in an argument with his wife, Pam, in a San Francisco park he grabbed a cell phone and she tumbled to the ground.
No, Baer doesn’t hit home runs — nobody on the Giants does — and Farhan Zaidi, the president of baseball operations still has been making trades seemingly every 15 minutes, catchers coming and going. Still, it has to be a bit disconcerting to a franchise in trouble to be without its leader.
For Giants partisans, especially those with a hint of sentiment, maybe the best news is Pablo Sandoval remains on the team — although the way Zaidi maneuvers, this could change any moment.
Bruce Bochy, the Giants manager, seemed surprised others were surprised that, unlike Connor Joe and Michael Reed, both obtained the last few days, there was no announcement Sandoval still was a Giant. “You guys know how much I think of Pablo,” said Bochy.
Everyone in the organization used to think of Mac Williamson as possibly the outfielder of the future. But fate hasn’t been kind. Williamson incurred a concussion not long after he joined the team from the minors last year, had recurring symptoms, this spring hit only .237 and then Tuesday was hit on the left hand with a pitch from Oakland’s Brian Schlitter. X-rays were negative.
As both Bochy and Melvin reminded, the key to spring training is avoidance of injury. Which the Giants could not do last year, Madison Bumgarner breaking a hand when hit by a line drive.
“It’s been a pretty good spring,” said Bochy, “a great spring as far as keeping the guys healthy. We played pretty good ball, although we haven’t played well since we got home.”
The Athletics played quite well, other than the two games in Tokyo against the Mariners, and while those can’t be erased they can be understood, a 5,000-mile, 16-hour journey to the other side of the Pacific Ocean affecting different people in different ways.
“But we’re home,” said Melvin, “and I hope we’re the hunted for years to come. I’ve told (the A’s players) there can be no letdown. You’ve had a good year. But if you think you can go out there and throw your glove on the field, and it happens again, you can get humbled real quickly. Not only do we have to work as hard last year, we have to work harder.”
The Giants simply have to work at getting people to first and then across the plate. “It’s pretty simple,” said Bochy. “We have to get timely hitting. We have the guys to do it.”
But will they?