Pat Neshek and his wife lost their son, Gehrig John Neshek, one day after he was born in October.
Six months later the A’s reliever spoke to John Hickey of San Jose Mercury News about the tragic death:
The devastation has never left me. … I don’t think I’ve had time to come to terms with what happened. We had to grieve in public, which we didn’t know how to do. When the season was over it was mid-October. Then the holidays were right there. We couldn’t enjoy anything. Christmas was really hard.
I still feel the devastation, and I don’t know if that will change, but this is the happiest I’ve been, maybe since I’ve been playing baseball. I feel like Oakland could be a place to be for a long time. … [We’ll] be forever grateful to the organization, the way they reached out to us, the way they supported us.
Hickey writes that the Neshek family can’t discuss any specifics about their son’s death because “the autopsy didn’t give enough clarity” and “there are lawsuits pending.”
I’ve been rooting for Neshek since he was a little-known side-arming reliever in the Twins’ farm system a decade ago because he’s a really good guy and when healthy a really good pitcher. It would be awfully nice to see him have a great season.
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.