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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.

Shohei Otani may come to the United States after 2017

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Last week it was widely speculated that Shohei Otani, the highly-touted Japanese pitcher/designated hitter who stars for the Nippon Ham Fighters, would not come to the United States to play due to changes in the new Collective Bargaining Agreement. The upshot: the new CBA caps money available to international free agents under age 25 at $5-6 million and Otani, 22, would be worth way more than that, so why take the pay cut?

Now, however, Jeff Passan of Yahoo reports that the Fighters are set to post Shotei Otani following the 2017 season. Passan says that his sources have told him that there are potential ways around the limit on spending for under-25 players like Shohei Otani and he links a Japanese article from Sponichi which says the Fighters would post him after the 2017 season.

It’d be interesting to see what that loophole is. Without knowing the exact terms of the CBA on this score it’s impossible to know, but one possibility is that there are different rules applicable to those with professional experience in other countries as opposed to amateur free agents.

Whatever the case, the notion that we could see Otani in the U.S. at age 23 or 24 is pretty exciting.

Report: Phillies close to signing Joaquin Benoit

ANAHEIM, CA - SEPTEMBER 15:  Joaquin Benoit #53 of the Toronto Blue Jays pitches during the seventh inning of a game against the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim  at Angel Stadium of Anaheim on September 15, 2016 in Anaheim, California.  (Photo by Sean M. Haffey/Getty Images)
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Jim Salisbury of CSN Philly reports that the Phillies are close to signing free agent reliever Joaquin Benoit. An announcement is expected before the winter meetings end on Thursday.

Benoit, 39, has quietly been among the better relievers in baseball over the past seven years. This past season with the Mariners and Blue Jays, the right-hander put up an aggregate 2.81 ERA with a 52/24 K/BB ratio in 48 innings. That included a 0.38 ERA in 23 2/3 innings after the Jays acquired him from the Mariners.

Benoit suffered a torn calf muscle during a benches-clearing brawl with the Yankees near the end of the regular season. He’s expected to be healthy for spring training.

The Phillies have now added three relievers this offseason with Benoit, Pat Neshek, and David Rollins.