Hall of Famer Willie McCovey dies at 80 after battling ongoing health issues

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The Giants sadly announced on Wednesday that Giants Hall of Fame first baseman Willie McCovey has died at the age of 80 after a battle with ongoing health issues. According to Steve Kroner and John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle, McCovey battled a serious infection that nearly killed him four years ago and recently developed another one which hospitalized him last week.

McCovey played 22 seasons in the majors, 19 of which were with the Giants. He spent another two and a half with the Padres and had a brief stint with the Athletics. He retired batting .270/.374/.515 with 521 home runs and 1,555 RBI in 2,588 games. Currently, he is tied for 20th place on the all-time home run leaderboard with Frank Thomas and Ted Williams.

Along with being a Hall of Famer, McCovey won the 1959 NL Rookie of the Year Award, made the All-Star team six times and won the All-Star MVP award in 1969, and won the NL MVP Award in ’69 as well.

The Giants never won a World Series during McCovey’s career, but he helped bring them close in 1962 when the Giants lost the World Series in seven games to the Yankees. McCovey’s No. 44 was retired by the Giants and they unofficially named the area beyond the right field wall at AT&T Park “McCovey Cove.” McCovey also has a statue at China Basin Park, which is on the other side of the cove.

Colin Poche, Rays go to arbitration just $125,000 apart

Colin Poche torn UCL
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ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – Reliever Colin Poche went to salary arbitration with the Tampa Bay Rays on Tuesday with the sides just $125,000 apart.

The gap between the $1.3 million the pitcher asked for and the $1,175,000 the team offered was the smallest among the 33 players who exchanged proposed arbitration figures last month. The case was heard by John Woods, Jeanne Vonhof and Walt De Treux, who will hold their decision until later this month.

A 29-year-old left-hander, Poche had Tommy John surgery on July 29, 2020, and returned to the major leagues last April 22 after six appearances at Triple-A Durham. Poche was 4-2 with a 3.99 ERA and seven saves in 65 relief appearances for the Rays. He struck out 64 and walked 22 in 58 2/3 innings.

Poche had a $707,800 salary last year.

Tampa Bay went to arbitration on Monday with reliever Ryan Thompson, whose decision also is being held until later this month. He asked for $1.2 million and the Rays argued for $1 million.

Rays right-hander Jason Adam and outfielder Harold Ramirez remain scheduled for hearings.

Players and teams have split four decisions thus far. All-Star pitcher Max Fried ($13.5 million) lost to Atlanta and reliever Diego Castillo ($2.95 million) was defeated by Seattle, while pitcher Jesus Luzardo ($2.45 million) and AL batting champion Luis Arraez ($6.1 million) both beat the Marlins.

A decision also is pending for Los Angeles Angels outfielder Hunter Renfroe.

Eighteen additional players are eligible for arbitration and hearings are scheduled through Feb. 17. Among the eligible players is Seattle utilityman Dylan Moore, who has a pending three-year contract worth $8,875,000.