Giants Have A Tough Pill
Outfielder proving doubters wrong
SAN FRANCISCO—Brett Pill secured a major victory last season. And it only got better from there.
His eye-popping numbers for Triple-A Fresno not only earned him a return to the 40-man roster, but also merited his first big league callup.
And after that? How about a home run in his first major league plate appearance? And how about another home run the next day?
Pill, 27, became the first Giant to homer in his first career trip to the plate since Will Clark so memorably burst into The Show by taking Nolan Ryan deep a quarter century earlier. But even Clark couldn't match what Pill did the following day. He became just the 22nd major leaguer to homer in each of his first two career games. John Bowker (in 2008) is the only other Giant on the list.
It was a brilliant series at San Diego's Petco Park and it was a delight for anyone who followed Pill's career over the years. Mildly regarded as a seventh-round pick in the 2006 draft out of Cal State Fullerton, Pill had to produce every season to stay on the organizational map. When the Giants designated him for assignment after the 2009 season, nobody picked him up.
"He wasn't even supposed to make our team at Triple-A," said Steve Decker, who managed Fresno last season. "We had (Brandon) Belt to play first base and Brad Eldred at DH. He outperformed both of them."
When the Giants returned Belt after a rough three weeks in the big leagues, Pill took a crash course at second base. At 6-foot-4 and 210 pounds, it's not a natural position. But he did enough to be considered an emergency option.
More than that, his willingness to try a new position further endeared him to Giants coaches and officials.
• Derin McMains, a former minor league second baseman, will make his managerial debut for the Giants' affiliate in the Rookie-level Arizona League. McMains, 32, spent the previous two years as Tom Trebelhorn's third-base coach with Salem-Keizer in the short-season Northwest League.
• Dave Machemer will enter his 23rd season as a minor league manager when he returns to run Double-A Richmond. Last season, Machemer's Flying Squirrels snuck into the playoffs as the wild card—the ninth team he has led to the postseason, and just the second Double-A Giants affiliate to reach the playoffs in 15 years.