Dusty Bergman, who pitched one inning for the Angels in 2004, was the last player from the University of Hawaii to reach the majors. Vinnie Catricala, a 2009 10th-round pick of Seattle, is bidding to be the next.
Catricala popped his second homer of the spring Monday against the Rangers. A corner infielder and outfielder, he’s 6-for-19 in seven appearances to date.
Catricala was one of the best hitters in the minors last season, coming in at .349/.421/.601 with 25 homers and 106 RBI between Single-A High Desert and Double-A Jackson. High Desert is well known as one of the top three or five offensive environments in the minors, but Catricala actually improved in Double-A, finishing with a 1.052 OPS in his 62 games for Jackson.
Still something of a man without a position, Catricala played 54 games at third base, 34 at first base and 32 in left field last year. The Mariners have given him time at both third base and left field this spring. He’s not viewed as a realistic candidate to make the team now, but given the uncertainty that the team faces at both positions, it’s not unrealistic to think he could be starting somewhere come July.
After 18 years, 12 winning seasons, seven postseason runs and three World Championships, Dave Righetti is no longer a pitching coach for the Giants. He was removed from his post on Saturday, when the team announced a few reassignments as they shake up their coaching staff. Heading into the 2018 season, Righetti will serve as special assistant to general manager Bobby Evans, former bullpen coach Mark Gardner will step into a similar special assistant role to “assist in pitching evaluations,” and former assistant hitting coach Steve Decker will take a special assistant role in baseball operations.
According to MLB.com’s Chris Haft, Righetti was the longest-tenured pitching coach in the big leagues. He helped shape the careers of notable Giants’ aces like Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain — all Cy Young contenders (and, in Lincecum’s case, a two-time winner) at various points in their careers. He was there to assist Ryan Vogelsong during his stunning mid-career comeback in San Francisco. He helped newcomers like Chris Stratton and Ty Blach flourish even as the team stumbled to the bottom of the division. He was there to take the credit when a sterling rotation clinched the Giants’ 56-year, drought-snapping championship title in 2010 — and, when things went so horribly south in 2017, he took the blame as well.
Hardly anything went right for the Giants’ pitching staff in 2017. Madison Bumgarner was shelved after sustaining a serious shoulder injury in a dirt bike accident, Johnny Cueto couldn’t shake a cluster of blisters on his right hand and Mark Melancon found it difficult to justify a $62 million paycheck after pitching through an arm injury to four blown losses/saves and a 4.50 ERA. It would be a lot for any pitching coach to stay on top of, and given the team’s rapid descent from 2016 postseason contenders to last-place finishers in 2017, it’s not surprising that Evans felt the need to switch things up.
Successors have yet to be named for Righetti, Gardner or Decker, though Murray hears that the Giants could have interest in former major league pitching coach Jim Hickey. NBC Bay Area’s Alex Pavlovic adds that Evans is searching for someone to “put a new voice” on the pitching staff and will likely target someone who, like Righetti, brings considerable experience to the role.