San Francisco Chronicle

Piscotty hoping to turn back the clock

Ex-Stanford star says he hasn’t ‘plateaued’

- By Susan Slusser

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Stephen Piscotty is well aware that there is work to do just to regain a big-league job, much less get back to the level of some of his earlier seasons.

That’s why Piscotty thinks the San Francisco Giants are the right fit for him. The former Amador Valley-Pleasanton and Stanford outfielder wants to continue to grow and learn as a player, and he’s among those who believe the Giants are at the top of the heap when it comes to extending developmen­t at the big-league level. San Francisco is a place older players — he is all of 32 — can come and bloom.

“I want to keep trying to get better,” Piscotty said. “I don’t feel like I’ve plateaued or anything. I think there’s more to get, and they just seem very motivated to return me to that form. That’s made me feel really good about joining this organizati­on.”

Hitting coach Justin Viele said that he spoke to Piscotty when he signed his deal, and when Piscotty mentioned how much his hands are the key to his swing, the team started looking through old video. Along with keeping his hands higher and the bat more vertical, Viele is working with Piscotty on making sure his front foot is landing firmly.

“That’s the ideal setup when we acquire a player: He comes in, and he has ideas of his own, but he’s also open to other ideas and it’s just sharing informatio­n,” Viele said, adding that Piscotty was texting him video even as Viele was being interviewe­d. “He’s been awesome to work with.”

There are many excuses Piscotty could use if he wanted to explain his past few seasons with the A’s. He doesn’t. A reporter has to specifical­ly ask about each one, and even then, there is no woe-is-me with Piscotty.

That doesn’t mean the injuries were insignific­ant. Wrist surgery ended his 2021 season, a severe calf injury landed him on the injured list last May, and a

shoulder issue also troubled him during the year. He hit below .230 in his final two seasons with Oakland and played in just 114 games.

“I think everything that Stephen’s gone through over the last few years with injuries really impacted his ability to play the game the way he's wanted to and the way he can play,” A’s manager Mark Kotsay said. “We thought we were getting a healthy Stephen last year and unfortunat­ely, it just didn’t pan out that way.”

The A’s designated Piscotty for assignment Aug. 18.

“It’s never fun when you manage someone and see what they’re going through and have to deliver a message and take away his ability to play the game,” Kotsay said. “It wasn’t fun by any measure, so to hear that he’s back and healthy — well, a healthy Stephen Piscotty can carry a team.”

After the A’s let him go, Piscotty signed with the Reds and hit .250 with five homers in 24 games with Triple-A Louisville.

“I felt really, really good about that month and finding the rhythm of the game again, being able to make adjustment­s,” Piscotty said. “And I felt like the Giants acknowledg­ed that more so than any other team, like, ‘Wow, you’ve made a step in the right direction.’ I felt like that was a big step for me, getting ready to hit again, along with some of their successes with older players coming in.”

Piscotty’s emphasis when working with Viele is his hands. Piscotty spends a lot of time adjusting them, making sure the positionin­g feels right at the plate. He said they’ve wound up drifting too high and too close to his body, near his ear, while his bat is too flat. So he’s lowering his hands, and keeping his bat more upright.

“It feels great,” he said. “They’ve shown me video from earlier in my career and it’s not something I’ve never done — I kind of departed a little bit from it for whatever reason, not thinking about it. It’s not like they’re teaching me a completely new way to hit. I can see it on the video and understand that when I’m at my best, this is the position I’m in.”

Piscotty is on a minorleagu­e deal and he’s fine with the thought of starting the season at Triple-A Sacramento, which isn’t that much of a haul from his wife, Carrie, and their children Aiden (almost 2) and Owen, who was born in November.

Piscotty doesn’t have an out in his deal until July, and the Giants have a full complement of outfielder­s, with starters Mitch Haniger, Michael Conforto and Mike Yastrzemsk­i, plus right-handed-hitting Austin Slater. Designated hitter Joc Pederson and first baseman LaMonte Wade Jr. also can play in the outfield. Only Haniger and Slater bat right-handed, like Piscotty, so if he’s playing well, Piscotty would be a good option in the event of an injury.

“It’s a great opportunit­y, and I’m going to try to make the team, but I know that if I don’t, the story is not over and that they are going to continue to help me develop and get back to where I want to be,” Piscotty said. “For me, it’s a win-win.”

Many baseball fans, especially those in St. Louis and the East Bay, know the Piscotty family’s story and how the Cardinals traded Piscotty to Oakland in December 2017 so he could be with his mother, Gretchen, when she was in the later stages of ALS.

Piscotty, his two brothers and his dad, Mike, have a charity to support research, the ALS Cure Project. One of their big fundraiser­s, an annual golf tournament at Superstiti­on Springs in Mesa, Ariz., is Friday. This year, the tournament will feature players such as Dansby Swanson and Charlie Blackmon, and will honor ALS Cure Project board member Jim Poole, the former Giants pitcher, who was diagnosed with ALS in 2021. For more informatio­n, visit

“All the player organizati­ons have gotten involved, which is awesome, and it’s a great event, a full day,” Piscotty said. “There’s a quick happy hour and a dinner and hopefully, we can raise a lot of money.”

 ?? Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants ?? Stephen Piscotty may start the year in Triple-A, as the Giants are well stocked with veteran outfielder­s.
Andy Kuno/San Francisco Giants Stephen Piscotty may start the year in Triple-A, as the Giants are well stocked with veteran outfielder­s.

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