⏩ Gi­ants FanFest:

San Francisco Chronicle - - SPORTING GREEN - By John Shea John Shea is The San Fran­cisco Chron­i­cle’s na­tional base­ball writer. Email: [email protected]­i­cle.com Twit­ter: @JohnSheaHey

Larry Baer: “One player can make a dif­fer­ence” to S.F.

The Gi­ants haven’t done much ros­ter-build­ing in the wake of con­sec­u­tive down years and aren’t ex­pected to make the play­offs in 2019.

Dur­ing Satur­day’s FanFest, CEO Larry Baer, ap­pear­ing dur­ing a Q&A ses­sion un­der a tent be­yond cen­ter field at Or­a­cle Park, of­fered a six-word sen­tence that pro­vided hope to Gi­ants fans.

“One player can make a dif­fer­ence,” Baer said.

Baer was re­flect­ing on Barry Bonds, whose ar­rival in 1993 helped turn a 90-loss team into a 103-win team, while an­swer­ing a question on Bryce Harper.

The Gi­ants have in­ter­est in the elite freeagent out­fielder, who could be a dif­fer­ence­maker as Bonds was 26 years ago, and Baer wasn’t down­play­ing how Harper dra­mat­i­cally could boost the lineup and fill one of the out­field holes.

Fans could use a con­fi­dence builder, too.

“The thing I’m very proud of with the Gi­ants, and it’s not al­ways suc­cess­ful — it was in ’92 with Barry — we want to be in the deal flow, so to speak. We want to be able to pur­sue play­ers to bring cham­pi­onships back to the Gi­ants’ fans,” Baer said.

“Bryce Harper is an amaz­ing player. It’s very hard, and these are com­pe­ti­tions, and I can’t hand­i­cap it. I don’t know where we are. But we’re giv­ing it a shot. That’s all we can do.”

Pitch­ers and catch­ers re­port to spring train­ing in Ari­zona on Tues­day, and the Gi­ants have made no ma­jor im­prove­ments to date. Mean­time, sev­eral play­ers, in­clud­ing Buster Posey, have pub­licly ex­pressed their fond­ness for Harper.

Satur­day, Jeff Sa­mardz­ija chimed in, “You want to im­prove your team, and you’ll al­ways want a Bryce Harper on your team, al­ways, 100 per­cent.” Evan Lon­go­ria added, “If he comes here, we’ll be happy.”

That Manny Machado and Harper are among nearly 100 free agents still un­signed is a sore point for play­ers across the ma­jors, in­clud­ing those at the Gi­ants’ FanFest.

Bran­don Craw­ford and Posey retweeted a na­tional writer’s post that it’s “shame­ful” out­fielder Adam Jones is un­signed. Posey also tweeted in re­sponse to Philadel­phia man­ager Gabe Kapler’s quote that the Phillies are in a “win-right-now mode” af­ter trad­ing for catcher J.T. Real­muto.

Posey sug­gested ev­ery team should be in such a mode.

“Some­how, the no­tion that it’s OK not to be com­pet­i­tive for any win­dow of time has be­come ac­cept­able. That’s my is­sue with it,” Posey said of teams tank­ing by pre­sent­ing an in­fe­rior prod­uct in a bid to build for the fu­ture.

“As a kid, you play the game, and you’re com­pet­i­tive. That’s what’s fun. You do it in high school. You do it in col­lege. So why at the high­est level, where you’ve got the best base­ball play­ers in the world, do we ac­cept any­thing other than the best com­pe­ti­tion across the board?”

Posey didn’t di­rect his com­ment at the Gi­ants. In fact, he tweeted he was “thank­ful for be­ing in an or­ga­ni­za­tion that wants to win.”

Sign­ing Harper would help re­it­er­ate that state­ment for many fans.

Amid Baer’s praise for Harper, he noted with em­pha­sis, “He’s 26 years old, too.” That’s younger than Bonds was when Bonds joined the Gi­ants.

Baer, man­ager Bruce Bochy and pres­i­dent of base­ball op­er­a­tions Farhan Zaidi met with Harper in Las Ve­gas on Mon­day, a meet­ing that lasted four hours, twice as long as an­tic­i­pated. Baer was asked if the Gi­ants’ brass tried to sell Harper on the Gi­ants’ ball­park and fans.

“Over­all, ev­ery time we go out, whether it’s talk­ing to a player or draft pick,” Baer said, “the fact is, our fans are such a hugely per­sua­sive ar­gu­ment to be a Gi­ant. This is just stuff he said pub­licly and oth­ers have, too, is they love com­ing to this ball­park with the elec­tric­ity and the vibe.”

Pho­tos by Josh Edel­son / Spe­cial to The Chron­i­cle

Gi­ants bullpen coach Matt Herges signs a nutcracker statue for a young fan Satur­day at the Gi­ants’ FanFest at newly re­named Or­a­cle Park.

Pa­tri­cia Fer­rant re­acts af­ter meet­ing Gi­ants play­ers at the team’s an­nual free event for fans.

Vy­ing for the ti­tle of cutest fan at FanFest was 1-year-old Vic­to­ria San­tos, shown in a dugout.

Gi­ants fans came pre­pared for rainy weather, with some don­ning color­ful pon­chos at Or­a­cle Park.

Newspapers in English

Newspapers from USA

© PressReader. All rights reserved.