ORACLE PARK — Standing alone in his kitchen at 3 a.m., Chris Shaw clutched a brown leather belt and swung. It was the morning of Aug. 29, and the Sacramento River Cats outfielder was fiddling with his swing while listening to music on his wireless headphones.
He took a stride just as a new song was starting, and something clicked. The swing felt right. He called reliever Sam Selman and told him. “You have to use it,” Selman said.
The next day, Shaw walked up to the plate against Reno with the song — “Dancing Queen,” by ABBA — blaring. He hit three home runs. When he stepped to the plate in the bottom of the ninth during the San Francisco Giants’ 16-inning loss to the Colorado Rockies on Tuesday, it played again, and it will play when he steps to the plate as the starting first baseman on Wednesday.
“I was asking the players who chose that for him, who claimed it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We had a good laugh, which we needed at that point it came along. I don’t know who did that to him.”
Using the disco classic, Shaw went 5-for-10 with seven RBIs before being called up on Sept. 1. Fans at Oracle Park haven’t had a chance to hear it much, given the fact that he’s had just one plate appearance at home.
With the organization moving into Year 2 of its rebuild under Farhan Zaidi, Shaw’s future with the team is uncertain. After having a career year this season and cutting down on his strikeouts, he could be a trade piece — a power-hitting corner outfielder with years of team control left.
Shaw, who last year was the No. 4 prospect in the Giants’ system, has slid down to No. 21 this season, but when he got the call up on Sept. 1, he was hoping to get more at-bats than the 14 he’s gotten across his 16 games (with just one start) with the big club this season. He’s batting just .071.
As a consequence of the marathon game on Tuesday/Wednesday morning, where Brandon Belt played all five hours and 31 minutes, Shaw will finally get the nod at home, hitting sixth. With Evan Longoria and Alex Dickerson also getting rest, Christhian Adames will play third and bat fifth, and Jaylin Davis will start in right field. Brandon Crawford — who has an OBP of .545 over the last four games — will lead off.
Asked if he’s hoping for more extra-inning games, if only for his benefit, Shaw said, “Excuse my French, but f*** no. I want the boys to be able to take care of it in nine.”
Dickerson said he feels as good as he has since his oblique began to flare up one months ago. When he first tried to come back from the discomfort, his swing was limited. He took about 30 swings and could never get it to feel right. Now, 10 swings into his mini-return, it feels right where it should be. He’s looking forward to having an offseason where he doesn’t have to worry about rehabbing anything, and can just focus on getting stronger.
Before the game, Bochy was awarded the Baseball Writers’ Association of America San Francisco/Bay Area chapter’s Bill Rigney Good Guy Award.
The award is presented annually to A’s and Giants players/staff who show extraordinary cooperation with the media, and Bochy has certainly done that. Unfailingly honest and graceful throughout his tenure in San Francisco, Bochy’s good humor and easygoing nature have been on display during his final season, particularly in his patience with media coming from around the country to write about his time with the Giants.
Despite his gruff exterior and reputation as a crusty, old-school catcher, he’s been open and willing to share his vulnerable and emotional side as he heads toward retirement. He received his award in his office, littered with the gifts he’s been given on his farewell tour, along with other nicknacks he has no idea where to put once he moves back to San Diego. Among them: a black and orange Captain America shield, given him by Joe and Anthony Russo, directors of two Captain America films as well as Marvel’s Infinity War and Avengers: Endgame.
Bochy picked up a custom San Jose Sharks jersey, signed by the team, in a pregame ceremony. Before that, he reunited with former San Diego Padres teammate Goose Gossage, the second figure from Bochy’s past to make an appearance as a guest of honor during his farewell homestand.
“Jeez, almighty, look what the cat drug in!” Bochy said as he saw Gossage in the far corner of the dugout.
“I’ll go anywhere for a free flight,” Gossage replied, as the two sat together and caught up.
In the clubhouse, Pablo Sandoval said that he, Brandon Crawford and Belt have a present for Bochy that they will present to him on Sunday, something that, Sandoval said, can be passed down to his grandchildren.
“I’m just enjoying this moment,” said Sandoval, who has often called Bochy a father figure, and a member of his family. “This last week of Bochy, it’s one of the greatest moments in my life.”
Sandoval, who recently underwent Tommy John surgery, was nominated by the Giants for the Roberto Clemente Award, and he received a small trophy for it before the start of the game from Hensley Muellens.
“It means a lot to me as a Latin-American baseball player,” Sandoval said in a video message. “Roberto’s carer has been an example, because of all the things he did on and off the field. I want to help the children a lot, so that they grow better and do better work, if they want to be professional baseball player or a doctor, whatever they want to do in life.”
Sandoval said that the range of motion in his surgically-repaired right elbow has increased from 90 degrees to 105 degrees, and that he will start hitting five months post-surgery. He will begin throwing at the six-month mark. He returned to the Giants midway through Tuesday’s game after spending several days at home, and will be with the club throughout the rest of Bochy’s final week.
Johnny Cueto threw a bullpen on Wednesday and felt fine, after feeling some discomfort in his left side. He will be re-evaluated by the training staff Wednesday evening, and again on Thursday, before a decision is made regarding him throwing one more start.