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Mike Tauchman is finally playing often, and the new Giant is showing ‘thunder’


Orlando Ramirez-USA TODAY Sports


The timeline was slightly off, but the underlying point was understood.

“I hadn’t played two games in a row since like August of last year, including spring training,” Mike Tauchman said after the Giants’ 7-1 win at Petco Park on Sunday, marking his third straight start as a Giant.

He played a couple games consecutive Sept. 11-12 last year, although one was a seven-inning contest; Sept. 1 and 2 he started back to back, too. But the Yankees, who had and have a crowded outfield, could not find room for him often, and without a rhythm, his bat was not able to tell them that he should play more often. He also had a nagging shoulder injury, which did not help.

He stepped to the plate 127 times last year and this year with New York and did not hit a home run, struggling especially last season (.242/.342/.305) and barely playing this year before the Giants acquired him for Wandy Peralta and a player to be named.

His 14th plate appearance with the Giants, in his third game in a row, he jumped on a cutter from Joe Musgrove that was diving inside and cracked it 106 mph off the bat, hooking it over the right-field wall for a third-inning three-run shot that would provide all the offense San Francisco needed.

It is hard to have a more impressive 1-for-4 day. He had the two farthest hits of the game for either team, drilling a first-inning Musgrove slider 395 feet — 10 feet deeper than his home run went — but Jurickson Profar made an outstanding all-out dive on the warning track for the out. He drew a Giants-approved, bases-loaded walk, too, and lined out to shortstop in a batted ball that Statcast estimated had a .900 expected batting average.

“When you watch him take batting practices, you see the thunder,” Gabe Kapler said after the outfielder’s fourth game in orange and black. “You see him get the ball in the air to the pull side. It’s not Alex Dickerson, where balls are just no-doubters all over the field, but he has plenty of power.

“He showed the power in ’19. Through watching video, he showed some of that power in spring training. And the bat speed was there early in the season in New York this year.”

The Giants believe there is more power to extract, demonstrated by his 13 home runs in 296 plate appearances in his breakout 2019 campaign. He hasn’t been the same since, which is what made him available in the first place.

The 30-year-old said he’s had good conversations with the club’s hitting minds since the Tuesday swap, saying they’re on the same page with how to approach at-bats.

With the Giants needing a glove and bat like his — a lefty swinger who can hit righties, which Austin Slater and Mauricio Dubon have not been doing — he will see a lot of time. Maybe that has been what’s missing from his game.

“The more pitches you see, the more comfortable you get in the batter’s box. So you can kind of play around with things a little bit more and do a little bit of a deeper dive into pitcher tendencies and approach,” Tauchman said over Zoom. “Instead of when you don’t play a lot … or your playing time is multiple days apart, you just try to be aggressive and attack pitches.”

He now will go to Colorado to play against the club for which he debuted while playing for a club that, entering play Sunday, led the majors with 4.09 pitches per plate appearance. Tauchman is a slugger who believes in waiting for a pitch to enter his zone, and he may have arrived at the right place.

“I think that that’s been one of the things that I’ve been incredibly blown away with, is just the quality and focus of the at-bats every single inning,” Tauchman said of the Giants’ lineup. “It’s been awesome.”

 

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