Righetti 'diligent' in researching Giants' new arms

Righetti 'diligent' in researching Giants' new arms

SAN FRANCISCO -- Times like this are when the Giants can consider themselves especially fortunate to have Dave Righetti as their pitching coach.

Righetti realizes that it behooves him to learn as much as possible about San Francisco's prized acquisitions for the starting rotation, Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, before Spring Training begins in mid-February. As the Major Leagues' longest-tenured pitching coach, Righetti had no trouble gathering background on the pair of free-agent right-handers. His extensive network of contacts proved invaluable.

Righetti consulted both of the pitching coaches that Samardzija worked with in Chicago -- Chris Bosio of the Cubs and Don Cooper of the White Sox. Righetti considers Bosio a friend and was a New York Yankees teammate of Cooper's in 1985. To glean background on Cueto, Righetti chatted with his Kansas City counterpart, Dave Eiland, who happens to be another ex-Yankees teammate. Righetti also felt comfortable discussing Cueto with Reds manager Bryan Price, a former pitching coach.

Due to Righetti's sheer experience, which encompasses performing as an All-Star closer with the Yankees and winning three World Series as a member of the Giants' staff, it's safe to say that his credibility wasn't an issue when he placed these calls.

"It's really easy for me to get what I need without making them feel weird," said Righetti, who joined the Giants' staff in 2000 following a professional playing career that spanned 1977-95.

Righetti could rely strictly on watching videos of each pitcher until his eyes glaze over. In cases such as this, however, there's no such thing as too much information. "It'd be like getting Huddy," Righetti said Tuesday, referring to the signing of free-agent right-hander Tim Hudson during the 2013-14 offseason. "You know the guy. You've seen him a thousand times. But do you really know the guy?"

Righetti's diligence is such that he likely would have conducted similar research had Cueto and Samardzija been non-roster invitees. "It's no different from grabbing a [Yusmeiro] Petit, a [Juan] Gutierrez or a [Jean] Machi. You gotta do your work," Righetti said.

After a 2015 season in which San Francisco's once-formidable starting contingent ranked 10th in the National League with 78 quality starts, Righetti began doing his homework immediately. He said that he watched as many postseason telecasts as possible that involved a free-agent starter who might interest the Giants. Righetti thus had a clear view of what the Giants might be able to expect from the likes of Cueto, Zack Greinke and David Price.

"I was a little bit more diligent," Righetti said. "... I had a feeling that we were going to do something. I thought we were going to go out and get a guy; I didn't know it was going to be two. I didn't think it was rhetoric. The organization was pretty serious about understanding that we needed innings. That bullpen wasn't going to be able to hold up."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.