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The Big Five with … Giants official Felipe Alou

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ARLINGTON, Texas — Felipe Alou lost a World Series as a Giants player in 1962, and it still haunts him. These days, the 75-year-old Alou remains active, scouting and working with Latin players in his role as a special advisor to Giants general manager Brian Sabean. He takes on The Big Five here:

It’s been 56 years since the Giants last won the World Series. Some great Giants players – yourself included – never won a championship. What will it mean if this Giants team wins it all?

“We were so close in 2002, with a lead late in (Game 7). It will mean a lot. We had good teams, with great Giants. But sometimes the team was not so great.”

Your memory of Game 7 of the 1962 World Series isn’t a good one.

“I was 1-for-4; I got a base hit off Ralph Terry, who pitched a complete-game shutout. But in the ninth inning, I couldn’t advance a runner over (to second base), and that runner was Matty Alou, my brother. So when Willie Mays came up and hit a double, it didn’t score Matty. It’s one of the sore spots in my career, my life, really. If this team wins, maybe I would forgive me a little bit.”

You managed a much-different Giants team than this one as recently as 2006.

“Yes, traditionally we’re a team that relied on the long ball. Barry Bonds, Jeff Kent, guys like that. We were an older team. So some kind of transition had to take place, and it only took four years. That’s really awesome.”

So did this team surprise you in reaching the World Series so quickly?

“It got here maybe before its time, maybe a year early. Not so many people believed in the Giants in spring training. But before the playoffs a Padres scout told me, ‘we fear your team because of the way they hustle, the way they play, and you never know who is going to get the big hit.’ That is what this team in all about.”

Your impressions of Madison Bumgarner?

“He doesn’t need to trick anybody. Everything he throws … is awesome. Cutter, slider, fastball. That’s tough on other teams. They have to be thinking, he’s the No. 4 starter?”

Editor’s note: Tony DeMarco is a contributor to NBCSports.com who has been covering the big leagues since 1987. He’ll interview a guest during each day of the World Series for HardballTalk.com.

Report: Cardinals are scouting Cuban outfielder Luis Robert

ST. LOUIS, MO - APRIL 25: Baseballs sit in the St. Louis Cardinals dugout prior to a game between the Pittsburgh Pirates and the St. Louis Cardinals at Busch Stadium on April 25, 2014 in St. Louis, Missouri. (Photo by David Welker/Getty Images)
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According to Derrick Goold of the St. Louis Post-Dispatch, the Cardinals are keeping an eye on outfield prospect Luis Robert. The 19-year-old left his native Cuba last November and is expected to command interest from multiple MLB teams as he approaches free agency. Goold adds that the Cardinals sent scouts to evaluate Robert’s workouts in the Dominican Republic as recently as last week.

There’s still a good chance that the club won’t get a shot at signing him; as Craig mentioned last month, it seems likely that Major League Baseball won’t declare Robert a free agent until after June 15. By July 2, the new Collective Bargaining Agreement’s policies on international bonuses will go into effect, handcuffing teams with the maximum penalty for bonuses to a $300,000 signing figure for any available international prospect. It’s designed to effectively take away those teams’ abilities to sign additional international talent, and the Cardinals have already spent a reported $9.35 million in bonuses on Venezuelan outfielder Victor Garcia, Cuban outfielders Jonatan Machado and Randy Arozarena and Cuban right-hander Johan Oviedo.

Until the cutoff in mid-June, the Cardinals are likely to continue actively scouting other international talent, including Robert. MLB.com’s Jesse Sanchez quotes an anonymous National League scouting director who describes Robert as the No. 2 talent behind Japanese wunderkind Shohei Otani. The 19-year-old hit .286/.319/.397 with a .716 OPS during a 16-game run in the Canadian-American League in 2016, following up an impressive three-year tenure with the Ciego de Avila in the Cuban National Series from 2013-2015.

Cubs extend Pedro Strop through 2018

CLEVELAND, OH - OCTOBER 25:  Pedro Strop #46 of the Chicago Cubs reacts during the sixth inning against the Cleveland Indians in Game One of the 2016 World Series at Progressive Field on October 25, 2016 in Cleveland, Ohio.  (Photo by Elsa/Getty Images)
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ESPN’s Jesse Rogers reported over the weekend that the Cubs and reliever Pedro Strop agreed to a contract extension. He’ll remain with the Cubs through 2018 and the new deal includes a club option for the 2019 season as well. Per Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune, Strop will earn $5.85 million in 2018 and the club option is worth $6.25 million with a $500,000 buyout. The two sides already avoided arbitration earlier this month, agreeing on a $5.5 million salary for the 2017 season.

Strop, 31, has been a very reliable reliever for the Cubs over the last three years. He has a combined 2.65 ERA with 212 strikeouts and 69 walks over 176 1/3 innings in that span of time.

The Cubs replaced Aroldis Chapman with Wade Davis, so Strop and Hector Rondon will be bridging the gap to Davis this coming season.

Strop joined the Cubs along with Jake Arrieta in the July 2013 trade that sent Steve Clevenger and Scott Feldman to the Orioles. That trade panned out well for the Cubs.