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Sam Coonrod Thrives In Bullpen

One year removed from Tommy John surgery, righthander Sam Coonrod experienced both hope and trepidation as the days neared to the Giants’ announcement of which players they would add to their 40-man roster.

"You just never know how they feel about you after you have a major surgery,” Coonrod said.

The Giants showed they feel pretty confident in Coonrod when they added him on the 40-man roster.

"When I found out,” Coonrod said, "I was just very thankful.”

The Giants made Coonrod their fifth-round selection in 2014. A 6-foot-2, 225-pound righthander from Southern Illinois, he spent the bulk of his college and pro careers as a starter before having Tommy John.

He returned toward the end of the 2018 season as a reliever, and racked up a combined 23 strikeouts in 11.2 innings in the Rookie-level Arizona League and with high Class A San Jose.

"We saw a guy who has the potential to be an impact arm in our bullpen,” assistant general manager Jeremy Shelley said.

Coonrod is 26 and is basically a two-pitch pitcher, with a fastball that sits in the mid-to-upper 90s and a slurve. He realizes that type of repertoire makes him better suited to the bullpen.

"It’s definitely easier to get by with those two (pitches) as a reliever,” Coonrod said, "because that third time around the lineup, if you’re just throwing two pitches, they’d (better) be really good.”

Shelley cited Coonrod’s makeup as another reason he could thrive as a reliever.

"He has the mindset,” Shelley said. "He’s got the bulldog mentality and he’s very aggressive.”

Said Coonrod: "I’m pretty much going to attack the strike zone as often as I can. I don’t really like to beat around the bush.”

Growing up in Carrollton, Ill., Coonrod was a Cardinals fan. He said the two pitchers he most admired were former Giants closer Brian Wilson and former St. Louis closer Trevor Rosenthal. Last offseason, Coonrod rehabbed a few times with Rosenthal in St. Louis.

Coonrod endured the ups and downs of returning from a Tommy John procedure.

"Certain days, you just don’t quite feel normal. I mean, your body feels normal but then you get out on the mound and something just doesn’t feel quite normal.

"But at the end of the year, like the last two or three outings, I was really feeling good . . . I was happy that I was healthy.”

Akil Baddoo (Douglas P. Defelice/Getty)

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— The Giants’ other two additions to the 40-man roster were also righthanders: 6-foot-3, 235-pound Melvin Adon and 6-foot-2, 220-pound Logan Webb. Adon, 24, struck out 21 hitters in 12.1 innings in the Arizona Fall League. Pitching for San Jose and Double-A Richmond in 2018, Webb, 22, had a combined 2.41 ERA.

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