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SF Giants ready for reset after surprising last-place season
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SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Way back in spring training, Bruce Bochy had a roster he believed would be a legitimate contender in the talented NL West.
His injury-plagued San Francisco Giants never got on track in a surprising lost season.
At 64-98, San Francisco dropped 23 more games than a year ago, just avoiding the franchise’s first 100-loss season since 1985. The Giants will have the second overall pick in next year’s amateur draft.
“We had a last-place season. That can happen in sports, like you have a lost year in life,” Brian Sabean, executive vice president of baseball operations, said Tuesday. “But we’re not last-place people and we’re not a last-place organization. We’re the furthest thing from that.”
Sabean hardly sees a need for a “blow-it-up” overhaul or even a rebuild but rather, “We hope it’s a reset.”
“It’s been a tough year. We’ve got a lot of things that we’ve all got to get better at,” catcher Buster Posey said. “Hopefully everybody can take a little time to decompress, get away and spend that time thinking about what it is specifically for them that they can do to help the Giants win more baseball games next year and come into spring training with a hungry attitude and a determination to get back to where we all want to be.”
Bochy will challenge his team to do even more this offseason to try for a comeback in 2018. The Dodgers, Diamondbacks and Rockies all reached the playoffs.
“Trust me, it’s humbling,” Bochy said. “This is a time I think you look back, you study from it, you learn from it and you focus forward.”
BOCHY’S HEALTH: Bochy will undergo another heart ablation procedure next week in San Diego, something he doesn’t consider serious but wanted to do after the season in order to avoid missing any time with the team. The recovery could be a week or slightly longer. This time it will be to correct an atrial fibrillation, or irregular heartbeat.
“I knew I had to get another one but wanted to wait until the season was over,” he said.
Bochy, whose contract goes through the 2019 season, is eager to get things turned around immediately and will get that chance.
BELT’S CONCUSSIONS: First baseman Brandon Belt didn’t play again after Aug. 4 because of a concussion — his fourth — and the Giants took no risks with him down the stretch.
Belt has been cleared from baseball’s concussion protocol and can proceed with a normal offseason program. He will be on his regular offseason regimen and fully healthy for spring training.
“I’m not concerned about his future because of the concussions,” general manager Bobby Evans said.
BUMMER FOR MADBUM: Ace lefty Madison Bumgarner getting hurt was a huge blow. The 2014 World Series MVP injured his pitching shoulder in an off-day dirt biking accident April 20 in Colorado and missed nearly three months.
Johnny Cueto also spent significant time on the disabled list, while closer Mark Melancon — signed to a $62 million, four-year deal before the season — had surgery Sept. 12 in his forearm.
“You lost your No. 1 starter, your No. 2 starter and your closer,” Sabean said. “It became a recipe for disaster.”
TIMELY HITTING: The Giants showed in last Friday’s win against San Diego how they can hit in key situations, such as with two outs.
That was at least a positive glimpse to take going into the offseason. It was difficult with no lineup continuity given so many injuries.
“It wasn’t there this year but we know guys in this clubhouse what they can do,” second baseman Joe Panik said. “... It’s more going into the offseason with some positive thinking, positive feelings, because once the next spring training starts it’s a blank slate.”
SO LONG, CAIN: Even with right-hander Matt Cain’s retirement, Bochy should have a nice rotation going into 2018.
Cueto has hinted he plans to stay, given he could opt out of his $130 million, six-year contract.
“He’s indicated his passion for being here,” Evans said.
Then, there’s Jeff Samardzija and Matt Moore. Ty Blach and Chris Stratton will also be in the mix.
“We have the makings of one of the best rotations in baseball still,” Bochy said.