During the early innings of the Giants’ 5-0 win over the Kansas City Royals in Game 5 of the World Series on Sunday, reports surfaced that St. Louis Cardinals outfielder Oscar Taveras had died in a car accident in his native Dominican Republic.
The news hit Giants outfielder Juan Perez particularly hard. Perez played alongside Taveras in winter ball in the Dominican and had become friends with the 22-year-old.
Perez said he overheard somebody in the Giants’ dugout talking about Taveras’ accident and rushed back to the clubhouse to confirm it. He said he contacted friends to verify the news. When they did, “I just threw my phone away, and I went back down (to the dugout) to watch the game.”
“At the moment when I found out, it was really hard,” Perez said. “I was walking around trying to get over it.”
Outfielder Gregor Blanco said he noticed that Perez was “really sad and talking about it,” and approached Perez in the sixth inning.
“I was just, ‘OK, I know this is devastating, for everybody, for you especially,’” Blanco said. “‘But at the same time, we should think about the game right now. I know it’s not easy, man, but after the game we’ll talk about it and we should pray for his family. But right now let’s focus on winning the game.’”
Perez entered the game as a pinch runner for Travis Ishikawa in the sixth inning. Perez then had one of the biggest hits of the game for the Giants when he doubled off the center-field wall against reliever Wade Davis in the eighth inning, just missing a home run and driving in two runs to give the Giants a four-run lead.
Perez took third base on the throw home.
“When I hit the ball, when I got to third, I took a peek to the sky, thinking, ‘That’s for you,’” Perez said.
News of Taveras’ death drew saddened reactions throughout baseball. Players and teams took to social media to share their condolences. Commissioner Bud Selig released a statement saying Major League Baseball was “in mourning.”
“I just heard that,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the game. “Man, just breaks your heart. Young kid, 22 years old, a great talent.
“This kid had a great future ahead of him. … My thoughts go out to his family and everybody that knew him.”
Taveras had just completed his rookie season with the Cardinals, which featured two highlights against the Giants. Taveras hit his first major-league home run in his second at-bat against the Giants, and also homered against them in the National League Championship Series.
“I heard about it in the fourth and had a sinking feeling in my gut,” said Giants catcher Buster Posey. “My first thought was, this game is not that important.”
Vogelsong could offer relief
Ryan Vogelsong said that after his short outing in Game 4 that he planned to be in Bochy’s office first thing Sunday, telling the manager he would be available in relief for the remainder of the series. Bochy said that will be an option.
“Oh sure,” Bochy said. “If we need some help after the day off (today), he can give us some help.
“I guess the scenario is we need help, some guys aren’t available, extra innings, things like that. I’d use him really in any role.”
Vogelsong lasted just 2 2/3 innings in the Giants’ 11-4 win Saturday, throwing 34 of his 62 pitches in the third inning. But Bochy reiterated he thought Vogelsong had good stuff and was the victim of some bad luck in the third inning.
No change in Petit’s role
Yusmeiro Petit has been a key contributor in three of the Giants’ wins this postseason, totaling 12 scoreless innings with four hits allowed and 13 strikeouts in three outings in long relief. Despite Petit’s effectiveness, Bochy said the Giants did not discuss using him for a World Series start, preferring to keep the right-hander in a long relief role – but he didn’t rule out Petit competing for a starting job in 2015.
“I think you have to look at how he’s thrown the ball,” he said. “These are things you have to talk about in the offseason. But this guy’s been a savior both in the ’pen and when we needed him to start.”
– Matt Kawahara