Gordon Beckham had spent all season in the Atlanta Braves’ organization, totally ignorant, he said, of the runaway truck that has been the Giants’ second half.
The infielder arrived at AT&T Park on Tuesday night, acquired by the Giants for the final week of the season, and watched his new team hang 12 runs on the Colorado Rockies.
“It doesn’t matter if you’ve struggled or not,” Beckham said Wednesday. “You’re only as good as the last game. The last game, they scored 12 runs. The way I look it, we’re hot.”
If that sounds like a particularly optimistic view of the team with the worst record in the National League since the All-Star break, Beckham acknowledges it. Until Tuesday, he was playing out the string for a last-place team. He is now in the middle of a playoff race, and when he arrived Tuesday, it was with a notably positive attitude.
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Beckham jokingly took credit for the Giants’ 12-run outburst. Talking to reporters for the first time, he paraphrased a quote from Clark Griswold in “National Lampoon’s Christmas Vacation,” saying when he learned he’d been traded, “I wouldn’t have been more surprised if I woke up with my head sewn to the carpet.”
As Buster Posey walked to his adjoining locker, Beckham told Posey, who just homered for his 1,000th career hit: “Buster, I’m doing an interview here.”
Amid the lightheartedness, though, Beckham slipped in an observation about the Giants, who are jockeying with the New York Mets and St. Louis Cardinals for the two wild-card spots.
“All that matters is they get into the playoffs and get hot,” Beckham said. “They could’ve been cold the whole second half, and all of a sudden these last five games they find it and all of a sudden they just roll. It happens like that.”
Should the Giants reach the playoffs, Beckham will not be eligible for their postseason roster. But over the next five days, he could play a key role in their drive for the postseason.
Before Wednesday’s game, manager Bruce Bochy said he believes third baseman Eduardo Nunez is still questionable to play this weekend against the Los Angeles Dodgers, who are expected to start two left-handers. If Nunez can’t go, the right-handed-hitting Beckham could step in.
“As a competitor and athlete, you want to be able to make an impact on something that matters,” Beckham said. “Even though I’m only going to be here for five days, it’s still important to me to make some sort of impact this week, just to get them going in the right direction.”
Though new to the team, Beckham said he already knows several Giants, having played with Jake Peavy, Jeff Samardzija and Conor Gillaspie in the majors. He also played with Posey in the Cape Cod League and said the two Georgia natives have stayed in touch.
In 2008, the Giants drafted Posey fifth overall, three spots before Beckham went to the Chicago White Sox. Beckham said at the time he entertained the possibility of starting his career with the Giants.
“I remember thinking it was either going to be Buster or me,” Beckham said. “It’s kinda cool finally being here.”
The Giants, who sent minor-league infielder Rich Rodriguez to the Braves for Beckham, would welcome any contribution he makes in the final days of the season. Beckham said he thinks that could happen on and off the field.
“It definitely doesn’t hurt to have a new guy all of a sudden in the dugout, especially somebody that has been out of (playoff contention) for so long and all of a sudden has a jolt of energy because he’s back in it,” Beckham said.
Et cetera – Nunez said he hopes to be ready to play Friday or Saturday against the Dodgers, but he has not done any baseball activities since pulling his hamstring Sunday. He was going to ride a stationary bike as he talked briefly to reporters Wednesday and said, “Everything’s going well.”
▪ Right-hander Johnny Cueto, pushed back because of a strained groin, remained on track to start Thursday against the Rockies. Bochy said the Giants’ starter for Saturday against the Dodgers is still TBA – likely either Ty Blach or Albert Suarez.
▪ A familiar face swung by the Giants’ clubhouse Wednesday: Matt Duffy, their former third baseman, whom they traded to the Tampa Bay Rays on Aug. 1 for left-hander Matt Moore. Duffy, who recently had Achilles’ surgery, said he was back in the Bay Area to pack before driving home to Southern California to rehabilitate during the offseason.
Duffy, who won the Giants’ Willie Mac Award last year as a rookie, played in 21 games for Tampa Bay before being shut down because of his injury. He wore a protective boot Wednesday and said it was his first day putting full weight on that leg since the surgery. He hopes to resume full baseball activity by early January.
Duffy said he said hello to as many of his former teammates as possible. He did not take note of who has his old locker, saying, “I tried not to look.”
Asked if he’ll watch the Giants if they make the playoffs, Duffy said, “I mean, yeah, of course. I’ll give myself until the end of the season to root for them.”
He struck a tone similar to Beckham when asked about the Giants’ second-half struggles.
“In 2014 we were struggling,” Duffy said. “You’ve just got to get in. Once you get in, anything can happen. It’s a different ballgame. You’ve only got, for the most part, three (starting) pitchers that pitch. It’s a little different. Games are played, managed differently. The intensity ramps up, and guys that can keep calm in those situations are the guys that come out on top. That’s what this group has.”