The San Francisco Giants have a small rug with the team logo that they bring from city to city and put down near the door of the visitors’ clubhouse. It’s a small, team-building reminder to the players about sticking together.
Not that they need much help with that considering who manages the team.
At a time in baseball when managers are increasingly button pushers directed by the front office, it was revealing to spend a few days around the Giants and Bruce Bochy.
He’s not the last of his kind, but he’s one of the few left.
Bochy has managed for 25 consecutive seasons, the longest tenure in baseball. The last 13 have been with the Giants and included three World Series championships.
The Padres went to the playoffs four times under Bochy from 1995-2006 and haven’t been back since. Outside of John McGraw, Bochy has managed and won the most games in Giants history.
“It’s been a pleasure to play for him,” said rookie outfielder and first baseman Chris Shaw, a Lexington native and former Boston College player. “There aren’t a lot of guys like him left in the game, and it’s refreshing in that regard. He’s been around so long, but he shows up every day with energy and enthusiasm.”
You heard the same thing from veteran players such as Buster Posey and Jeff Samardzija. As Bochy prepares to step away, it’s clear how much he’ll be missed.
“Being around Boch has been a lot of fun. But not just because he’s a Hall of Fame manager, but because of how he treats us,” lefthander Tony Watson said. “He has that competitive drive and wants to win every game.”
When the Red Sox and Giants played a 15-inning game on Tuesday, Bochy used four relievers in the 13th inning alone.
“He managed that game like the World Series,” Watson said. “It was fun to see.”
It goes beyond baseball for Bochy and his players. Bochy met his wife, Kim, in college in 1975 and they have been married since 1978. They have two sons and now two grandchildren.
“He’s a good guy to look up to just in terms of how to lead your life. He talks about that kind of thing with us,” Shaw said. “Married, kids, the whole thing, and he’s always happy. Who wouldn’t want that?”
Bochy started Shaw on Tuesday and got him two more plate appearances on Thursday, making sure he enjoyed his time back in Massachusetts. Bochy also showed his understanding of what it meant for Mike Yastrzemski to be at Fenway Park by hitting him leadoff and playing him in left field for the first game.
Bochy got career win No. 2,000 on Wednesday, and he was pleased it came at Fenway, where he managed the National League in the 1999 All-Star Game.
“That was one of the special moments of my career. I love the history of this ballpark,” said Bochy, who ducked inside the Green Monster on Thursday to take a look around.
Bochy, 64, isn’t sure what will come next.
“I’ll guess I’ll cross that bridge when I get to it,” he said. “Right now I have no plans. There’s things I’d like to do like anybody else. Initially I’m going to like having an empty plate and not worrying about having a schedule.
“I’m good with it. I’m not going to say it hasn’t been hard at times, especially with a lot of great things that have happened this year, things that have been said. But I’m good with it.”
Lexington, by the way, did a good job of celebrating Shaw when he came home. Wednesday was “Chris Shaw Day” in the town and he received a proclamation, a flag flown over the famed battlefield, and a jar of dirt from all the fields he played on in the town.
The Boston College players and coaches also visited Fenway that day.
Some difficult calls to make
It isn’t clear if the Red Sox will hire a president of baseball operations or a general manager to replace Dave Dombrowski. But whatever the title shakes out to be, presumably the team will want a new leader in place ahead of the GM meetings in Phoenix, which start Nov. 11.
The new person almost certainly won’t have the same amount of decision-making power Dombrowski had. But he or she will have a large role in shaping the roster.
The big call will be on Mookie Betts, whether to trade him over the offseason or hold on to him while attempting to sign him.
Here’s the big question: How much value can you extract for one season of Betts? Any potential trade partner is not going to want to give up much for a player they know is determined to enter free agency.
In this view, it’s better to hold on to Betts, shoot for a championship in 2020, and work diligently between now and next November to sign him.
Betts is too good to give up on for some prospects. He has never once said he dislikes Boston and wants to leave. He has said only that he wants to be paid according to his value.
Find a way to work with him. He’s worth it.
The Sox also need to entertain the idea of extensions for Eduardo Rodriguez and perhaps Rafael Devers and decide how — or if — Andrew Benintendi and Jackie Bradley Jr. fit in down the road.
Bradley has averaged 3.1 WAR over the last four seasons, Benintendi 2.7 over the last three.
A few other observations on the Red Sox:
■ The Sox used nine pitchers in a nine-inning game at Toronto on Sept. 12. They are one of four teams to do that this season, with the Rockies managing it twice.
If Red Sox games feel particularly tedious this season, you’re right. They are averaging 3 hours and 25 minutes, the longest in the majors and well above the average of 3:05.
The Sox have played four games lasting at least five hours, the most in the majors. They had 12 other games that were at least four hours.
■ Something for the Red Sox to be aware of this coming week: The Rangers have stolen home four times. The Rays have done it twice, and no other team has done it more than once.
■ The Sox own the baseball rights to University of Florida quarterback Feleipe Franks, who is out for the season after dislocating his right ankle. Franks was taken in the 31st round of this year’s draft and signed for $40,000.
He has eligibility remaining with the Gators and still hopes to play in the NFL.
The Red Sox also have the rights to 26-year-old Detroit Lions backup quarterback Jeff Driskel, who was taken as an outfielder in the 2013 draft. He also played at Florida.
Driskel has played only nine NFL games since being drafted by the San Francisco 49ers in 2016 but isn’t ready to try baseball.
■ Carl Yastrzemski on the state of the Sox: “They’re scoring runs. When you lose [Chris] Sale and pitchers of that caliber, it’s going to bother you. It’s going to hurt you. I’ve always said that over 162 games, pitching is the key.”
Catching up with Dempster
Ryan Dempster started 29 games for the 2013 Red Sox then pitched in relief in the postseason. He retired after that season and now, at 42, works for MLB Network as an analyst and with the Cubs as a special assistant to Theo Epstein.
Here’s a chat we had:
Q: What stands out from your time in Boston?
A: “I played there one year and it felt like 10. It was remarkable what a special group we had and what happened in the city that year. I’ll never forget that team dinner we had in Cleveland and how we jelled together after the bombings at the Boston Marathon. It felt like everybody we had on the roster made a big contribution. It was great for the city that we had that kind of season.”
Q: You saw Xander Bogaerts at the start of his career. Did you envision what he has become?
A: “He was a big kid at 20, but I’m not sure I thought he’d hit 30 home runs and drive in 100. But he had an incredible demeanor about him, the way he carried himself. His at-bats as a rookie showed a lot of control. He had that ability to stay in the moment. I love seeing what he’s done.”
Q: As a pitcher, what do you think is going on this season with all the home runs?
A: “That’s easy. It’s the baseball. You pick up a ball now and it feels different. The seams are tighter and the way the ball moves has changed. It’s just science, physics. There’s less friction and it carries more. I hope they do something to fix it.”
Q: Have you been back to Boston often?
A: “Not as much as I’d like to. But every time I do go back, people are incredibly nice. Probably because I hit [Alex Rodriguez], right? But that was one of the best times of my career. I always feel the warmth there and the fans shared in the moment with us. They always welcome me back nicely.
“That team had a group text message that lasted two years after the season, that’s how close we all were. Being on the same team with people like [Mike] Napoli, Jonny Gomes, David Ross, Jon Lester, [Dustin] Pedroia, and [David Ortiz], it was special.”
Major league turmoil in Pittsburgh
Neal Huntington is one of baseball’s longest-tenured executives, becoming general manger of the Pirates back in 2007. Clint Hurdle has been his manager since 2011.
Other than Dayton Moore and Ned Yost in Kansas City, no current combination of GM and manager have been together longer.
Add in team president Frank Coonelly and the Pirates have had the same leadership for nine seasons.
But Huntington and Hurdle, who are both signed through 2021, are facing a crisis that could lead to changes once this season ends.
As the Pirates finish up their fourth straight losing season, All-Star closer Felipe Vazquez is in jail facing multiple felony charges in Pennsylvania and Florida involving sexual assault on a minor.
There also were at least three incidents this season involving fights between players or players and staff members, including what one player described as a “full-out brawl” between Vazquez and fellow reliever Kyle Crick earlier this month that resulted in Crick needing season-ending surgery on an injured finger.
A third reliever, Keone Kela, was suspended in July for a profane exchange with Hurdle and the team’s mental skills director.
On the field, the Pirates were 21-43 in their first 64 games after the All-Star break and got outscored by 108 runs.
Huntington, a New Hampshire native, built a team that made the playoffs three seasons in a row from 2013-15. That ended a run of 20 consecutive years with a losing record. He turned around an organization that was an afterthought.
But the current state of the team and all the off-field incidents have to result in change of some kind.
Owner Bob Nutting has been silent throughout the entire mess. That can’t last for much longer.
Drew Pomeranz had a 1.03 WHIP and 15.3 strikeouts per nine innings in his first 21 games with the Brewers and has played a big part in Milwaukee surging into contention for a wild card. Pomeranz has a career 2.74 ERA and 1.12 WHIP as a reliever compared with a 4.25 ERA and 1.41 WHIP as a starter. He signed a $1.5 million make-good deal with the Giants as a starter last offseason. The former Red Sox lefthander would be wise to market himself as a reliever this time around. “He’d get a multiyear deal as a reliever, in my opinion,” one National League scout said. “His fastball was 92-93 as a starter but 94-95 as a reliever. A lefty who throws like he does is valuable.” . . . It got lost when compared to the Yastrzemski family hoopla at Fenway, but the Giants-Red Sox series also was a big three days for the Flemmings. Will Flemming, one of the radio voices with the Red Sox, got to work the games with his brother, Dave Flemming, who has been with the Giants for 16 seasons. The brothers grew up in Alexandria, Va., and graduated from Stanford. Dave also called games for Triple A Pawtucket, as Will did. Will said it was the first time he called the same game as his brother . . . In Bo Bichette, Cavan Biggio, and Vladimir Guerrero Jr., the Blue Jays have a rookie infield they can build around, and it’s a good story that all three are sons of former major league All-Stars. Don’t be surprised if Biggio turns out to be the best of the group. Red Sox coaches have raved about his command of the strike zone. He had 64 walks in his first 391 plate appearances, a percentage that has him among the best in the game. Biggio also struck out 112 times, but he swings at strikes and better contact should come . . . Northeastern product Aaron Civale has a 1.82 ERA in nine starts for the Indians. He has yet to give up more than two earned runs in a game. Civale has a 2.05 ERA since going into the rotation after Trevor Bauer was traded to Cincinnati. Bauer had a 6.39 ERA for the Reds . . . The Astros went into the weekend with a 49-18 record against teams in the American League West, 30-5 at Minute Maid Park. They were 10-0 against the Mariners at home and 9-0 against the Rangers. In all, they had outscored division teams, 247-109, at Minute Maid. Astros manager A.J. Hinch, by the way, has not called for an intentional walk this season and the Astros have only 10 sacrifices. That’s a smart way to play . . . Luis Tiant and Saul Wisnia will be at Newtonville Books on Langley Road at 7 p.m. Wednesday to discuss their book “Son of Havana, A Baseball Journey From Cuba to the Big Leagues and Back.” Tiant’s life makes for an incredible story and the book captures it well . . . Happy 88th birthday to Ken Aspromonte, who made his major league debut with the Red Sox in 1957. He was the Opening Day second baseman in 1958, but that lasted only five games before he was traded to the Washington Senators. Aspromonte played seven seasons in the majors for six teams. His brother, Bob Aspromonte, played 13 seasons in the majors.