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Brian Murphy’s postcard from Scottsdale: What celebrity does Nick Hundley look like?



SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — That’s right, another Jock Blog from the sun-splashed climes of spring training, where the Giants open Cactus League play Friday against the Cincinnati Reds.

Madison Bumgarner will start the game.

I’ll let your Giants-fueled adrenaline surge for a moment as you re-read those first two sentences.

Did I mention the game will be on KNBR?

Yes, yes, I’m in full “honk” mode because weeklong broadcasts with Paulie from the broadcast booth at Scottsdale Stadium are persuasive and seductive, not unlike the smell of warm chocolate chip cookies baking in the oven, or the “GARRRUMPH” grunt emitted by Bumgarner when he releases a pitch, as he did during Wednesday’s live batting practice.

Or was it “ARRUGHA!”

Something like that. Either way, Bum’s grunting and we’re ready to talk ball.

And this was our sunrise on Thursday:

So, like Tuesday’s Jock Blog, let’s send a postcard from Scottsdale and review the key talking points on today’s show from our parade of guests:

— New backup catcher Nick Hundley came across as engaged, and buying in to a locker room tone of low-ego, low-maintenance, an attitude he says starts with Buster Posey. Hundley told us he considers Posey “the face of our sport”, and yet he’s impressed with how approachable and work-oriented Posey is. On top of that, Hundley’s comfort level with the Giants is massive, given that new closer Mark Melancon is one of his best friends since they were teammates at the University of Arizona. Each was a groomsman in each’s wedding, and Hundley told us he told Melancon, at a recent cookout at Melancon’s Arizona home: “Shoot, I’d play with you for free.”

Hundley laughed and told us not to tell Giants management he said that.

A San Diego Padre during the 2010 pennant race with the Giants, Hundley remembers that climactic final weekend when the Pads entered AT&T down 3 games, and won the Friday game behind a 3-run home run from Adrian Gonzalez (Hundley looked over his shoulder, left and right and whispered, “I think it was off Cain” — it was), then won the Saturday game before the Giants held off San Diego and won the West on Sunday. His biggest takeaway? The AT&T Park atmosphere that day. Hundley told us it was the most intense crowd he could remember being around, and he’s been on the sidelines of Rose Bowls with his college football coaching father.

As an aside, Hundley has the sort of friendly, recognizable face that forced multiple “What Do You Give Me For?” calls.

Paulie Mac made a call on Hundley and actor Matt Lillard from the film “Scooby Doo”.

Ace engineer Darren (D.C.) Chan made a call on Hundley and actor David Graf from the film “Police Academy”.

And listener Pete tweeted in to make a call on Hundley and former Cal QB and current Cal radio analyst Mike Pawlawski.

— Reliever Derek Law seemed at ease as he headed into his second camp as a big league reliever. This, after a stellar 2016 rookie season, setting aside surrendering an unfortunately placed ground ball off the bat of Kris Bryant to start the 9th inning of Game 4 of the NLDS. (Don’t forget, Law threw two shutout innings the prior evening in the Giants’ extra-inning Game 3 win.)

Law will be a critical 8th inning piece for Bochy, after a rookie year that saw him post a WHIP of 0.96, built on only allowing nine walks in 55 innings. If a relaxed personality is what’s needed to handle stressful situations, count Law on the ‘loose’ side. He’s a guy who generally can’t stop grinning, and is known on the team as the most freewheeling dancer, right down to a moonwalk he broke out at KNBR FanFest.

His hoofing skills served him well at his New Year’s Eve wedding, which also featured the delivery of 600 McDonald’s Chicken McNuggets near midnight. His wedding guests, according to Law, inhaled them, and Law advises every wedding bring in hundreds of McNuggets to close out the proceedings.

— Manager Bruce Bochy is always a favorite on the M&M Show. The skipper has built up so much swagger with the Giants fan base that last year’s struggles to manage the bullpen seem to be mostly forgotten. Having a closer might help, just a little, ya think?

Bochy was in good form, but did admit that he’ll have trouble getting all these camp bodies — Jimmy Rollins, Mike Morse, Justin Ruggiano, Aaron Hill, Kyle Blanks, Gordon Beckham, and many pitchers — a good look in Cactus League games.

One thing’s for sure: Bochy wants better baserunning out of the Giants, a team whose inability to get good leads and good breaks cost them on more than one occasion. It was “awful”, to use Bochy’s word. New third base coach Phil Nevin and new first base coach Jose Aguacil will be counted on to shore that up.

— Jarrett Parker brought his globe-trotting, New Age personality to the booth, telling us of surfing in Costa Rica this past offseason and how, even though he’s an East Coast kid from his youth, the environmental sensibilities of the West Coast better suit his style. As for his competition with Mac Williamson for the left field job? “I believe in the abundance theory,” Parker said. According to my unscientific research, the Abundance Theory “postulates a benign universe in which any individual with the correct attitude, training or spiritual alignment can acquire personal abundance.”

See? I told you he was New Age.

— On the opposite personality scale from Parker’s eco-friendly, crunchy, quasi-hippie outlook was our next guest, the fireballer from Georgia named Hunter Strickland. No surfing in Costa Rica for Strickland — there are too many elk, ducks and coyotes to hunt here in the United States.

Or should I say, “kai-yote”? That’s what Strickland called this relative of the wolf, and he said in Arizona they’re considered a nuisance, so he and Madison Bumgarner like to hunt ‘em. Strickland told us Bum’s already killed himself two kai-yotes. Being a city slicker, I’d say “kai-YO-tee”, but I kind of like Strickland’s pronunciation better.

Another part of this new bullpen without Javier Lopez, Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo, Strickland said humbling experiences on the big league level have taught him that honing his fastball location is more important than unleashing gas, and that a secondary pitch will help him go a long way. He plans on going a long way. And then going hunting.

Fun stuff. Hope you guys have enjoyed the sounds. It’s almost ball season.