April showers bring May flowers. What do May flowers bring?
Well, for the San Francisco Giants, significant injuries. At least that’s been true over the past few seasons.
Mark DeRosa, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Ryan Vogelsong, Angel Pagan. All suffered significant injuries that cost them weeks of playing time in May.
Wednesday’s injury may have been the most frustrating.
In the top of the ninth, after he had just escaped a bases-loaded jam with the help of a double play ball, Santiago Casilla came to the plate for the first time since 2012.
Manager Bruce Bochy said afterwards that he gave Casilla instructions not to swing. But Casilla went up there hacking, working the count full before hitting a chopper up the middle. Rockies shortstop Troy Tulowitzki charged the ball and threw to first. Casilla raced down the baseline with his hair on fire, as if they play were in Game 7 of the World Series.
It was a game in May, and the Giants were leading 5-1. Just before he reached the bag, Casilla pulled up, then fell over the bag and began writhing in pain. Casilla suffered a hamstring injury so bad that he could not put wait on the leg and had to be helped off the field by two trainers.
And this came after starter Matt Cain left the game early when he felt his hamstring tighten up.
Casilla is definitely going on the DL. For how long, we won’t know until an MRI is performed Thursday. But it didn’t look good. By the looks of things, if the Giants get Casilla back before the All-Star break, they would be lucky.
But it seems to follow a disturbing trend of key injuries suffered by Giants in the month of May.
Here’s a look back at others since 2010:
Mark DeRosa: Prior to the 2010 season, Mark DeRosa signed a two-year, $12 million deal to be a veteran presence in the lineup. But in May of 2010, DeRosa went on the DL with a wrist injury that ended his 2010 season after playing 26 games in 2010. He came back to play 47 games in 2011, mostly as a reserve. He also started a DL stint in May 2011.
Edgar Renteria: Renteria went on the DL twice in May 2010, the first on May 7 with a strained groin. He returned May 22, played three games then went back on the DL with a strained hamstring for about a month. He would return, suffer other injuries, but return in the postseason to deliver one of the biggest hits in Giants history in Game 5 of the World Series.
Buster Posey: The biggest May injury was Posey’s season-injury ankle injury on May 26 when he got plowed by Scott Cousins.
Jeremy Affeldt: Affeldt went on the DL May 2 with a sprained knee sustained when his 4-year-old son lept into his arms after Affeldt returned home after a game. Now, granted, the injury occurred in late April, but Affeldt went on the DL in May. Affeldt missed the minimum, so it wasn’t major injury, but worth mentioning.
Pablo Sandoval: Almost a year after breaking the hamate bone in his right hand, Sandoval breaks the hamate bone in his left hand, leaving a game early against the Marlins on May 2. He would be out until June 9.
Santiago Casilla: This isn’t the first time Casilla visited the DL in May. Last season, he went on DL on May 21 with a cyst in his right knee and did not return from the DL until July 14.
Ryan Vogelsong: Vogelsong was off to a bad start in 2013. But he looked to be turning things around with his best start of the season, throwing five shutout innings against the Nationals. Then he broke his hand swinging at a pitch at the plate. He would be out until Aug. 9.
Angel Pagan: Pagan supplied perhaps the most exciting play of the 2013 season for the Giants when he won a game against the Rockies with a 10th-inning, inside-the-park home run. But Pagan hurt his hamstring on the play on May 25. They waited until June 7 to put him on the DL. He tried to return later in June, but aggravated the injury on June 20 playing for Class San Jose. He would later have surgery and be out until Aug. 30.
Brandon Belt: Belt went on the DL after suffering a broken thumb when he was hit by a pitch from the Dodgers’ Paul Maholm on May 9. He’s not expected back until late June, at the earliest.
MoreSplashHits got up Friday thinking how great it would be to be at AT&T Park for the pre-game festivities, but at least I could watch it on TV.
Then I turned on the MLB Network, which was carrying Friday’s Giants-Cardinals game. But instead of showing the pre-game, the network decided to show Brian Kinney and Harold Reynolds blabber at each other.
OK, no problem. I’ll just go to MLB. TV. But MLB.TV also did show the pre-game, joining the broadcast right before the first pitch.
So, we’d like to thank SFGiants.com show sharing video of the highlights of Friday’s pre-game activities as the Giants raised their 2012 World Series banner.
And it almost turned out like we called it.
MoreSplashHits posted 10 prime candidates to raise the flag on Friday.
Two of them did not participate, as we expected, because they were getting ready for the game: Pitcher Barry Zito, who was warming up in the bullpen, and catcher Buster Posey, who was catching Zito.
“It would have been nice, but I also like my routine,” Posey said of joining the pre-game festivities. “It’s a balance.”
Two other players we listed did not hoist the flag, but were given another honor. NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro and World Series MVP Pablo Sandoval got to throw out the ceremonial first pitches.
As for the flag itself, it was brought in via the bay on a San Francisco fire boat. After it was carried into the stadium, it was handed to Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who walked it to the outfield wall, and passed it off to pitcher Matt Cain.
Cain carried the flag into the stands and to the flag pole, followed by five teammates — each of whom took turns in hoisting the flag up the pole:
Matt Cain — got it
Tim Lincecum — got it
Ryan Vogelsong — got it
Sergio Romo — got it
Hunter Pence — got it
Angel Pagan — DOH!!
OK, we didn’t get Pagan, but 9 out of 10 isn’t bad.
Actually, when I was compiling my list of candidates, I wanted to have five pitchers and five position players. After coming up with Pence, Scutaro, Posey and Sandoval, I needed one more.
I went with Blanco because he’s defensive plays in the postseason stuck out more in my mind. But I could have gone with several candidates like Brandon Crawford (for his defense) and Pagan.
Pagan was a solid choice for his contributions from the start of the season through the playoff run. And he just signed a four-game contract with the Giants last winter.
“This is about sharing the joy, sharing the accomplishment,” Pence said Hunter Pence. “That’s what we do it for. We do it for each other. We do it together.”
Good choices all the way around, and it was a great ceremony. Still, it would have been nice to see Buster in the mix.
“Aw, I had fun watching ’em,” Posey said of his teammates.
Don’t feel too bad for Buster. He’ll get his time in the spotlight Saturday when he’ll be presented his MVP trophy in a pre-game ceremony.
OK, we’ve moved on from the Super Bowl (sort of), and ready to get MoreSplashHits geared up again as the 2013 season approaches.
During the offseason prior to the 2012 season, the Giants traded OF Andres Torres and RP Ramon Ramirez to the Mets for OF Angel Pagan, who proved to be a pivotal player in the Giants’ World Championship run.
Then the Giants re-signed Torres.
On Tuesday, the Giants signed Ramirez to a minor league deal.
Both Torres and Ramirez had so-so seasons with the Mets that were marred by injuries.
Torres hit .230 with 3 HR, 35 RBI, 47 runs and 13 SBs in 132 games for the Mets in 2012. Those numbers were only slightly better than his dismal 2011 numbers for the Giants of .221, 4 HR, 19 RBI, 50 runs and 19 SBs in 112 games.
Torres suffered a calf injury during spring training last year and aggravated it early in the season. The injury sidelined him for most of the first half of the season. The Giants hope Torres’ better numbers as RH batter vs. LH pitching (.286 vs. .195 as LH batter vs. RH pitching) will make him a good platoon option to LH hitting Gregor Blanco.
Ramirez posted a 0.67 ERA in 25 games after being acquired in a trade with the Red Sox in 2010 for the Giants. He followed that up with a career-best 2.62 ERA in 2011. Last season for the Mets, he was 3-4 with 4.24 ERA. Hampered by a midseason hamstring injury, Ramirez posted career highs in WHIP (1.461) ballooned by a career-high walk rate of 4.9.
Ramirez will be battling for the final spot in the Giants bullpen along with Chad Gaudin, Scott Proctor among a bevy of pitchers who will see a lot of action during spring training because a major chunk of the bullpen will be participating in the World Baseball Classic.
Now, if only the Giants could get Zach Wheeler back from the Mets …
One down, one to go.
Jon Heyman of CBS Sports and Tim Brown of Yahoo Sports are reporting that the Giants have agreed to a four-year deal worth $40 million with outfiedler Angel Pagan.
Frankly, we thought the Giants would secure a deal with second baseman Marco Scutaro before locking down Pagan. But we like the deal for Pagan at $10 million a season.
If you don’t like the deal, consider this: it’s $20 million less than what the Giants gave to their last free-agent center fielder — Aaron Rowand in 2008.
Rowand’s contract expired after the 2012 season with the Giants paying him $12 million to NOT play for them in the final year of his contract. So the Giants are getting Pagan for $2 million less per year than what they paid Rowand last year.
It’s also at least $40 million less than what they likely would have had to spend to get Michael Bourn. The other option was Shane Victorino, who was said to be looking for a three-year deal for $30 million.
But Pagan was better than Victorino.
Pagan hit .288/.338/.440 with a league-high 15 triples (also a San Francisco Giants record) and played a solid center field. He ranked third in the majors in putouts by center fielders. He was second (a distant second to Bourn) in Total Zone Runs as a center fielders. He ranked ninth in the majors in UZR/150 for center fielders, two spots ahead of Victorino.
Tom Verducci on MLB Network mentioned one concern: that Pagan will be 34 when this contract ends, and there weren’t a lot of 34-year-old center fielders in baseball. Well, then it’s good that the Giants’ No. 1 prospect is a very good defensive center fielder: Gary Brown.
Brown struggled early in 2012 at Double-A before finishing with a .279/.347/.385 line in a pitcher-friendly league.
The Giants will want to see how Brown fares at Triple-A in 2013 before making a call-up. The Giants did play Brown some in left in 2012 just to see if he could be an option there.
Unlike Rowand in 2008, Pagan is not coming off a career year, per se. In other words, 2012 was not a fluke. He hit .290/.340/.425 in 2010 in 151 games for the Mets. Injuries limited him to 123 games in 2011, when he hit .262/.322/.372. He also hit .306/.350/.487 in 88 games in 2009 for the Mets.
We’d like to see Pagan walk a bit more and improve that OBP from the leadoff spot. But his contact rate of 87 percent is good and above MLB average (79 percent).
Pagan had a huge August, when Melky Cabrera was lost for the season to a suspension.
Pagan also hit .309 in August/September/October, when he hit in front of Marco Scutaro.
Coincidence? Maybe. Maybe not.
That’s why we want to see the Giants finish some unfinished business next: re-sign Scutaro.
There has been a lot of talk about players who need to be huge since Melky Cabrera was suspended.
But the biggest player in the post-Melky days has been Angel Pagan.
In the first five games of the Giants’ current road trip, Pagan is 11 for 23 with five runs, three doubles, a triple and three RBI.
And in Tuesday’s win over the Dodgers, he turned in the biggest play on defense with help from catcher Hector Sanchez.
After Tim Lincecum sailed through the first five innings by giving up no runs on two hits and no walks.
Then it looked like Lincecum was headed to his dreaded blow-up inning.
A.J. Ellis opened the inning with a walk, which was followed by a single by Juan Rivera.
Then Shane Victorino singled to center which almost surely appeared would score Ellis from second.
Pagan came up throwing to home. First baseman Buster Posey did not cut off the throw, which was on the mark and Sanchez blocked the plate to get Ellis out.
So instead of it being 4-1 Giants with no outs and runners on first and second, the score remained 4-0 with one out and runners on first and second.
Adam Kennedy followed with another single, which loaded bases.
So the Dodgers had produced a walk and three singles, but had no runs to show for it. But they also had Matt Kemp coming up.
Kemp drove a Lincecum pitch to deep right field, which Hunter Pence caught on the warning track for a sacrifice fly.
Bruce Bochy then did what he would not have done in previous years with Lincecum. He pulled him before things exploded on him. Jose Mijares came in and struck out Andre Ethier to end the inning.
Santiago Casilla pitched two perfect innings, then Sergio Romo and Javier Lopez teamed up to get the final three outs in the ninth, with Lopez getting Ethier to ground into a game-ending double play for his third save of the year and his second in two nights.
Now, the Giants lead the Dodgers by 1.5 games in the NL West. At the very least, the Giants are now guaranteed of leaving L.A. in first place in the NL West. With Matt Cain throwing Wednesday, they have a chance to sweep the Dodgers and leave with 2.5-game lead.
MoreSplashHits tweeted, rather tongue-in-check, that since Hunter Pence joined the game, the San Francisco Giants have averaged better than seven runs a game.
That has a lot more to do with weak Colorado Rockies pitchers than anything Pence has done.
Pence is 2 for 17 since joining the Giants. For what it’s worth, Carlos Beltran also went 2 for 17 to start his tenure with the Giants last season.
But Pence has produce a positive contribution. With Pence hitting in the No. 5 hole, it made it easier for manager Bruce Bochy to put Angel Pagan back in the leadoff spot.
It’s clear now that the best Giants outfield is Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan and Hunter Pence. So if that’s the case, who is the best leadoff option?
Marco Scutaro, who started there on Thursday? Hardly.
It’s Pagan. And in this series in Colorado, Pagan has responded.
Pagan went 4 for 6 with two runs, three RBI, a home run and a stolen base in Saturday’s win over the Rockies. This followed Friday’s game when he went 3 for 4 with four runs and two walks.
That makes him 7 for 10 with two walks in two games in his return to the leadoff spot.
The big question now is whether this is a Colorado-aided offensive spurt and the start of something big for Pagan.
We all know how hot Pagan can get. His 21-game hitting streak earlier this year is evidence of that. But we’ve also seen the flip side to that streaky side.
But the Giants have put up 27 runs in two games with Pagan at the top of the order. We’ll gladly take that as long as we can get it.
And it might not have happened if the Giants hadn’t added Hunter Pence.
For the second game in a row, the Giants have pounded out double-digit runs and hits. But again, the Giants have received a lot of help from the Rockies.
Wilin Rosario, a catcher by trade, was inserted into the game at third base — a byproduct of having only four position players on their bench. In the eighth inning, the move may have cost the Rockies four runs.
After Brandon Belt led of the inning with a double, Pagan singled to left. Carlos Gonzalez appeared to have a shot at throwing Belt out at the plate until Rosario cut off the throw. Rosario then made it worse by trying to throw a relay home, which sailed wide and allowed Pagan to take second.
Then Pagan very unwisely attempted to steal third. He might have been thrown out except Rosario caught the ball but whiffed on the tag.
Then Ryan Theriot hit a ball down the third-base line that Rosario was unable to glove. It was a play a normal third baseman likely makes.
That led to a four-run eighth.
But if Rosario doesn’t cut off CarGo’s throw, actually tags Pagan and gloves Theriot’s grounder, that would have added up to three outs and no runs.
The Giants will go for the sweep with Tim Lincecum on the mound. Lincecum will face Travis Chatwood, who will be called up from Double-A to fill the spot of Christian Friedrich, who was placed on the DL.
During Sunday’s broadcast of the Giants-Reds game, the camera focused in on a woman who was celebrating her 102nd birthday at AT&T Park.
After seeing her, MoreSplashHits tweeted something like: “Woman celebrating her 102nd birthday at AT&T Park still upset about Snodgrass’ drop in the 1912 World Series.”
For less educated Giants fans, Fred Snodgrass’ error in the 1912 is one of the infamous moments in Giants lore.
In the final game of the 1912 series against the Red Sox, the Giants led 2-1 in the bottom of the 10th inning when Boston’s Clyde Engle hit a lazy fly ball to center that Snodgrass dropped for a two-base error. Engle would later score the tying run and the Red Sox would push across the winning run later that inning.
Little did I know that the Giants would go on to win Sunday’s game against the Reds on a dropped ball by an outfielder.
Well, technically, it wasn’t dropped. Jay Bruce never touched the ball, so it went for a double for Angel Pagan.
But just as John McGraw said Snodgrass was not totally to blame for the loss in 1912, there was plenty of blame to go around for the Reds on Sunday.
Take the top of the ninth. The Giants were leading 3-2 when Javier Lopez was brought in specifically to face the left-handed hitting Bruce. After getting ahead of Bruce 0-2, Lopez gave up a single. Now, if Bruce had simply struck out, like he was supposed to do, he could have saved himself a lot of grief in the bottom of the ninth.
Santiago Casilla was brought in from the bullpen and gave up a single to Ryan Ludwick. Todd Frazier followed with a single to right-center that Gregor Blanco fielded and threw home.
With no one out, Reds third base coach Mark Berry held up Bruce at third base.
Miguel Cairo followed with a single to left, scoring Bruce. But Berry held up Ludwick at third instead of challenging the arm of Cabrera.
Apparently, earlier last week, Berry sent a runner home who was eventually throw out, leading to a lot of criticism of Berry. That could have factored into his decision.
Baker said responsibility also lies with the runner.
“A lot of that depends on the base-runner,” Baker said. “The coaches get all the blame. But most of the time you don’t need a coach. We thought it was in there all the way. Maybe (Ludwick) didn’t.”
Then Casilla struck out Ryan Hanigan and Wilson Valdez and got Zack Cozart to hit a soft liner to Brandon Belt to end the threat.
“We had the bases loaded and nobody out. That’s a tough one to lose,” Baker said. “It’s really tough when you get four hits and you get one run. That usually doesn’t happen.”
In the bottom of the ninth, the first two Giants went down quietly against Jose Arredondo. Buster Posey hit a long flare down the right field line that landed just fair then bounced into the stands along the right-field line for a ground-rule double.
Baker then elected to walk Pablo Sandoval intentionally, which didn’t make a lot of sense here. It would have been better to throw four eye-high strikes to the free-swinging Sandoval and see if he chases.
Instead, they elected to pitch to Pagan, who worked the count to 3-1 after nearly being hit by a pitch.
Then Pagan served up a fly ball to right. Bruce retreated but had room. Then, suddenly and very unexpectedly, jumped for the ball as if he were making a play up against the wall.
One problem, though. He wasn’t at the wall. He was barely to the warning track and the ball sailed over his glove for a game-winning double.
“It was not as close to the wall as I thought it was. I missed it,” Bruce said. “It’s really, really embarrassing. It should be an error. … I pride myself on my defense.”
The Giants will take it and the 5-2 homestand it gave them.
The Giants have an off-day Monday before beginning a three-game series in D.C. against the Nationals. The Giants will miss All-Stars Gio Gonzalez and Stephen Strasburg in the series. Tim Lincecum will face Jordan Zimmermann on Tuesday.