Arrived home very late last night after a delayed flight. While our weekend getaway to Scottsdale is always a fun treat, and we especially enjoyed hanging with Sister Lefty and Bro-In-Law Lefty, I do not have much happy news to report about our Giants.
I’m glad I waited until after Sunday’s game to write my on-the-spot report because that was a more interesting and fun game. Still, the Giants went 1-3 while we were in Arizona. (Lest anyone say we’re the jinx, I’ll mention that they were 4-0 when we were there last year. And look how last year turned out!)
OK, to the reports.
The Saturday game, a disheartening 8-0 loss, honestly had nothing good about it. It wasn’t just that the Giants scored zero runs–I don’t even remember them hitting a ball hard. Nobody had more than one hit, and all but one (a double by Henry Ramos) were singles. Every pitcher who appeared in the game except for Mark Melancon and Will Smith gave up at least one run. There were a couple of honorable mentions, I guess:
- Drew Ferguson showed why he’s known as an OBP machine, grinding out ABs and getting a walk and a hit and a stolen base. He also looked good in CF (less good in RF the next day, but the sun/sky may have been a factor).
- Mark Melancon had his first good outing of the spring, getting three efficient outs on three infield grounders. Vintage good Melancon. Let’s see more of that, please.
- Dereck Rodriguez gave up three runs in 3.2 innings, but he also walked none and struck out five. And several of the hits/runs, all in the second inning, could be attributed to a combination of bad luck and March 9-level infield defense. He was rewarded after his start with a vote of confidence from Bruce Bochy, who said “Right now, he’s part of this rotation, that’s where he stands. He’s throwing the ball well.” I was watching him as D-Rod left the mound for the day in the fourth inning, and he seemed pumped and pleased, pointing to the sky as the crowd gave him a nice ovation.
To cap off a less-than-perfect afternoon, as we exited Scottsdale Stadium, a drunken young man in Dodger gear ran right up into my face, screaming “Let’s go, Dodgers!” and trying to high-five me. When I cringed and walked away, he started screaming at me “three straight NLCS’s” and “Don’t talk to me about 2012!” (guess no one told him about 2014). Seriously. I was old enough to be that guy’s mom, and I’m a short woman walking out of my team’s home ballpark wearing Giants gear, and he just felt empowered to harass me in broad daylight and in full view of two male family members, both of whom immediately suggested that someone whose team hasn’t won a ‘ship since 1988 might try being less of a d***. What was that?
[To be fair and balanced, I also had a nice chat with a very friendly Dodgers fan in line for coffee at the hotel on Saturday morning, and she told me her daughter and son-in-law live a half block from Oracle Park in SF and have become diehard Giants fans (to her and her husband’s bewilderment).]
Saturday finished a lot more pleasantly with a lovely al fresco meal at EVO, an excellent Italian place we discovered during last year’s trip. We had a nice view of the sunset, too.
The Giants had split-squad games at Scottsdale Stadium and at the A’s park, and we were at the home game. Yes, the Giants lost this game 7-6, but it was much more exciting with more interesting and memorable moments. I knew Hunter Pence’s first at-bat would be worth capturing, so I took video as he walked to the plate to lead off the top of the first. Pence went 3 for 3, including a homer off Jeff Samardzija, for Shark’s first run allowed this spring.
— when is 2020 over? (@locosfgfan) March 10, 2019
Pence’s homer got him yet another standing ovation from the Scottsdale crowd (and yes, I stood, too), which I think caught Samardzija a bit off guard, though Andrew Baggarly, home in the Bay Area on a break, smelled “cookies.”
I’m back getting rained on in SF, but I can smell the oven from here. 🍪 🍪 🍪 https://t.co/Iy0xhR4Diw
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) March 10, 2019
Samardzija seems like too much of a competitor to serve one (or two) up even to a former teammate, but who knows? In the moment, I had the same thought. Pence is trying to make a team out of camp, and he’s having a great spring so far at the plate, hitting .370 with two homers and a 1.210 OPS. At best, though, he’d be a fourth outfielder for Texas, but he may be auditioning for other teams that might still need a right-handed power bat in the outfield in a couple weeks. Can’t think of any teams like that right now, of course, but I do wish him luck.
The Ramos Brothers and Joey Bart
The Giants actually led the game twice in the early going, 1-0 and 2-1, but switch-pitcher Pat Venditte took care of that in the fifth inning, giving up four runs and hard-hit balls from both hands. Once that happened, you figured the main thing to look forward to was the appearance of the Giants’ top two prospects, both on the pregame list. They both entered after the fifth inning, Joey Bart taking over as catcher and Heliot Ramos, on loan from minor league camp for the day, in centerfield, with his brother Henry flanking him in right field.
Let’s start with the Ramos brothers. They are seven years apart in age, and Henry has been in the Dodgers organization until now, so they never expected to be on the same team, let alone play in the outfield at the same time. They were both pretty excited about it. Their mom is just relieved that she doesn’t have to trade off Dodgers and Giants jerseys if the brothers ever played against each other.
Heliot is on the left in this picture. He’s got a sturdier build than the rangy-looking Henry, who is more of a speed/defense/OBP kind of guy. In the four innings I saw Heliot, I came away impressed with how toolsy he is. In this highlight compilation, you first see him making a nice running catch in left-center, saving Sam Coonrod a run, and then scoring from second on a close play at the plate following a single to not-very-deep left field.
El debut de Nuestro 💪⚾️🇵🇷🦍 @HeliotRamos y con esta gran atrapada en el jardín. A pesar de irse de 2-0 con 1CA, lució espectacular en la defensa. Vamos arriba caballito #losnuestros #futuro #prospect #sanfrancisco #california #mlb #giants #beisboldepuertorico vía @mlb pic.twitter.com/GslOCnHP4c
— Béisbol de Puerto Rico (@beisboldepr) March 11, 2019
We also saw him make a strong throw from center, hitting the cutoff man, and hustling out a ball to avoid a double play (he did force Henry at second!).
Bart went 2 for 3, including a smoked opposite-field single to the right field wall and the single that scored Heliot from second. This is the kind of Gameday update I hope to see often, not too many years from now.
Bart is hitting .462 in his first pro camp, and they can just go ahead and start engraving that Barney Nugent Award with his name, I think.
Other weekend notes
- Rene Rivera and Aramis Garcia kept the backup catcher competition interesting yesterday. Rivera had two hits and was driving the ball in the Scottsdale game, but we were disappointed with his lack of effort in chasing down a wild pitch from Pat Venditte to the backstop. Garcia had two hits, two RBIs, and a very long homer to left, hit off the A’s impressive Blake Treinen, who’s been having a great spring. The “smart money” edge is probably to Rivera with Aramis playing in Sacramento everyday.
- Venditte was interesting to watch for the novelty factor, but he did not look impressive with either hand/arm. His lefty delivery is almost sidearm and quite reminiscent of Javi Lopez. I know they signed Venditte to an actual major league contract (a unicorn in the Zaidi regime so far), but Rule 5 pick Travis Bergen has been excellent this spring, and if it comes down to those two, I wouldn’t be surprised to see them keep Bergen and see if they can sneak Venditte through waivers (I bet they can).
- We were actually quite impressed with Sam Coonrod, who appeared to be throwing gas (the stadium scoreboard went on the fritz right about then, so no radar readings) and induced a lot of off-balance swings. He might be an interesting sleeper pick to watch this year, I assume in AAA.
- Joe Panik looked great at the plate, going 2 for 3 and hitting the ball hard all three times. We spotted Joe’s wife sitting a couple sections over from us with Haylee Belt and the two little Belt boys. The wives leave pretty much a minute after their guy is subbed out of the game, and I guess I can’t blame them, especially with small kids in tow.
- The attendance at Scottsdale Stadium was over 11,000 Saturday but only about 8600 Sunday. A non-sellout on what is usually the busiest weekend of spring training is a bit startling, but maybe some fans decided to go to the game at the A’s park, instead.
- My souvenir shirt choice for this year was this Day of the Dead Gigantes model. I hope the skull and the “dead” motif doesn’t describe the Giants’ season-to-be (as in DOA).
So that’s all the news from our Scottsdale 2019 trip. This was our 10th straight spring training trip and 11th overall. Always a good time.
Today’s game features the Giants visiting the Dodgers at 1:05 p.m. PDT, and we hope it’s not a Day of the Dead for Chris Stratton. Broadcasts (audio for the Giants, audio/TV for the Dodgers) are all on mlb.com. Hope it’s a better week for Los Gigantes. Lefty out.