Orioles Preview - Page 61 - The Giants

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The Giants

Associated Press

 

Bruce Bochy has long been a manager who makes it all about his players, the men he writes into the lineup day after day, game after game, month after month.

 

That’s a big reason the Giants’ likely Hall of Fameskipper decided in February to make it public he will retire at the end of the season. He grew tired of the constant questions, the regular speculation about his future. He didn’t want to be a distraction.

 

Now the Giants will begin a new season that is Bochy’s last — and everyone involved is determined to make it memorable despite the daunting task of returning to winning in the loaded NL West.

 

“It’s a gut feeling that it’s time,” Bochy said. “It’s been an unbelievable ride. There’s so much that I have to be grateful for, with the players, the city, the fans, my ride here. It’s time.”

 

In Bochy’s first season with the Giants in 2007, he managed Barry Bonds when the slugger broke Hank Aaron’s home run record. Bochy then guided the Giants to World Series championships in 2010, ’12 and ’14, but the Giants have largely struggled since that remarkable run. The club reached the 2016 NL Division Series but lost to the Cubs in four games.

 

Some of their biggest stars missed significant time in 2018 with injuries yet again, including ace lefty Madison Bumgarner, right-handers Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, catcher Buster Posey, first baseman Brandon Belt, second baseman Joe Panik and third baseman Pablo Sandoval.

 

The Giants wound up 73-89, including a majors-worst 5-21 in September, yet bettered their last-place 2017 finish of 64-98.

 

“It’s so rare that you see teams just win forever,” Bumgarner said. “There’s ups and downs in this game all the time, and that doesn’t mean we’re OK with them. But at the same time you have to understand that side.”

 

Focused Mad Bum: Bumgarner insists he is never one to live in the past despite the frustrations of his last two injury-shortened seasons. But the 2014 World Series MVP would like to return to the 200-inning pitcher he has been when healthy.

 

Last year, he knows, was purely bad luck. Bumgarner broke the pinkie on his pitching hand when he was hit b ya line drive from the Royals’ Whit Merrifield in his final 2018 spring training start, undergoing surgery to insert pins into the finger. He returned in June and wound up 6-7 with a 3.26ERAin 21 starts and 1292⁄3 innings.

 

In 2017 he missed nearly three months after an April dirt bike accident during an off day in Colorado.

 

Healthy Posey: The Giants want to protect Posey, who underwent season-ending right hip surgery in late August. Posey can’t wait to be a regular in the lineup again.

 

“Hopefully the plan that is put forth by the training staff will have you right where you need to be,” he said.

 

He hit .284 with five home runs and 41 RBIs in 2018 while limited to 105 games before the operation on his troublesome hip, which needed repair for a torn labrum as well as removal of an impingement.

 

Stephen Vogt and Rene Rivera were added on minor-league deals.

 

Outfield questions: The Giants wanted to make an offseason splash in the outfield. They were in on new Phillies star Bryce Harper, making him a 12-year, $310 million offer. Cameron Maybin, arrested on suspicion of DUI during spring training, and Gerardo Parra signed minor-league deals.

 

Photo: Longtime Giants manager Bruce Bochy, center, will retire at the end of the season.

 

ROSS D. FRANKLIN/AP