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Must-Click Link: David Freese and his battle with depression and anxiety

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David Freese became a St. Louis legend in Game 6 of the 2011 World Series. That night, in the bottom of the ninth, with the Cardinals one strike from elimination and the Rangers one strike from glory, Freese hit a two-run triple that eluded Nelson Cruz and sent the game into extra innings. Then, in the 11th, he hit a walkoff homer, giving the Cardinals a Game 7 which they’d go on to win and become World Series champions. It’s virtually impossible to script baseball heroics greater than that.

But despite it all, Freese was not in a good place. He had suffered from depression and anxiety his entire life and, to compensate for that, he abused alcohol. All of it was exacerbated by the expectations of being the hometown hero and feeling he had to be a certain sort of person to the people in St. Louis who either knew him all of his life or were introduced to him as a conquering hero. His life spun out of control.

Today Bob Nightengale of USA Today has an interview with Freese about all of that. He talks about his struggles with depression, anxiety and the bottle and how (a) getting traded away from the Cardinals; and (b) meeting and marrying a woman who was not a baseball fan who helped him bring balance to his life helped lift him out of the fog and into a healthier, more balanced life.

Some must-read material for Cardinals fans, Pirates fans, Freese fans and anyone who has struggled with the issues he has.

Giants remove pitching coach Dave Righetti

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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.