Manager Bruce Bochy talked about the Giants’ plan this season to get some speed at the top of the order to set the table and create some runs.
But that speed doesn’t help you if you’re rolling weak infield grounders.
That’s what we’ve seen from Angel Pagan this spring. It’s getting late, and it’s starting to be a concern.
Pagan broke an 0-for-26 skid with an eighth-inning double. His spring average currently sits at .179.
And it’s not just the outs that he’s making. It’s the type of outs.
On Tuesday, he didn’t hit the ball out of the infield in his first three at-bats — popping out to the pitcher, grounding to short and second base.
Then he finally breaks the slump by making an inside-out swing and shooting an inside pitch the opposite way for double inside the bag at third … and then gets picked off a second base.
And finally he struck out looking to end the game with the tying run on base.
Bochy appeared to be talking out of both sides of his mouth — or other parts of his body — when it comes to the Giants outfield and leadoff situations.
In one breath, Bochy said that the decision to keep Gregor Blanco on the 25-man roster has not been made, even most observers could not see that NOT happening.
Then with another breath, he’s included Blanco as a leadoff option.
Most telling is when Bochy was given the opportunity to dispell any ideas that Pagan won’t be in center field and leading off on April 6, the manager passed.
“I’m not going to announce the lineup now,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some time here. There’s eight or nine days. (Pagan) could get hot and somebody else could get cold. Now is not the time to write the lineup. We have a pretty good idea.”
Pagan will spend the next couple of days working on his swing in minor-league games.
- It was a good news/bad news outing for Tim Lincecum. Lincecum struggled with his fastball command. The best example of this came when Lincecum faced Angels pitcher Brad Mills, who went to the plate with instructions not to swing. Even so, Lincecum had to go to full counts on both at-bats before striking Mills out — his only two strikeouts Tuesday. That’s the bad news. The good news is that even with a lack of command, Lincecum still got through five innings giving up two runs on five hits and two walks.
- C Buster Posey went 0 for 2 with a walk. But more importantly, he caught seven innings on his first back-to-back start at catcher. For more on Buster’s day, which was also his 25th birthday, click here.
- 1B Brandon Belt went 1 for 4 with some loud outs. He’s hitting .370 this spring, yet it appears possible, even likely, that he will begin the season in Fresno. That may sound incredible to you (it does to us), but to find out more, click here.
It’s Madison Bumgarner’s turn to throw Wednesday, but he’ll do that in minor league camp. Not wanting to show MadBum to the division rival Dodgers, the Giants will throw Yusmeiro Petit in the 1:05 p.m. game Wednesday.
GIANTS 13, BREWERS 3
ANGELS 9, GIANTS 5
Well, it wouldn’t be spring training if Barry Zito didn’t hit a Brewer with a pitch.
The past two springs Zito plunked Prince Fielder with pitches (one intentional, one less-than-so). But with Fielder gone to the Tigers, Zito plunked Nyger Morgan with a pitch in the second inning.
Considering that Morgan is a much smaller target than Fielder, Zito’s control is clearly getting better.
“It was a curveball, so I mean sometimes you just throw through it,” Zito said of the pitch that plunked Morgan on the helmet. Morgan stayed in the game through the end of the inning, then left as a precaution.
Besides the hit-by-pitch, Zito gave up just one hit — an infield hit at that — no walks and one strikeout in three innings of work. He might have come out and pitched some in the fourth if the Giants hadn’t batted around for an eight-run inning.
Despite the solid results, Zito was mildly critical of his outing.
“I felt like I could’ve been better being down in the zone with the fastball,” Zito said. “If you look at strike ratio and how many balls were down in the zone, today was not as good as last game. But there were other positives today.”
Zito threw 30 of his 45 pitches for strikes, compared to 28 of 35 pitches for strikes last Tuesday.
Also, the Brewers’ lineup did not include the likes of Rickie Weeks, Aramis Ramirez or Ryan Braun.
Well, it doesn’t matter whose in the lineup, we’ll take three scoreless innings from Zito any day. And the plunking of the mouthy Tony Plush was just a bonus.
That makes consecutive scoreless outings from Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Zito.
Now if we can get the Lincecum kid to come around ….
- 3B Pablo Sandoval went 2 for 4 with a double and home run in the Brewers game. He also whiffed twice.
- 2B Ryan Theriot got things going with the bat, going 2 for 2 with a double, walk and two runs.
- C Tommy Joseph continues to impress, going 2 for 3 with two home runs and 4 RBI. To read more on Joseph, click here.
- SS Brandon Crawford, who worked on shortening his swing in the offseason, continues to swing a hot bat, going 2 for 3 with a double, triple and 3 RBI.
- P Justin Fitzgerald gave up 3 runs on five hits in 2/3 of inning. The other six pitchers gave up no runs on four hits and no walks in 8 1/3 innings. They included Guillermo Mota, Sergio Romo, Steve Edlefsen and Hector Correa.
- The lineup in the split-squad at Tempe against the Angels was comprised mostly of younger players. But two veterans had nice games. 1B Aubrey Huff went 2 for 3 with a home run.
- Freddy Sanchez, playing DH vs. the Angels, went 1 for 3 with a run scored. Manager Bruce Bochy said Sanchez won’t play a game in the field until Wednesday at the earliest.
Brian Wilson will make his spring debut and pitch an inning as the Giants take on the Mariners in Scottsdale. Eric Surkamp will get the start for the Giants and Buster Posey is slated to catch four innings. He reported no soreness after catching two innings on Friday.
Trying to find some good news out of spring training camp Wednesday for the San Francisco Giants would take some searching.
It was a bad day all around. Hopefully, in a couple of days, it won’t seem so bad. But we’ll see.
It started with Brian Wilson throwing in the bullpen and eventually being told to stop after a few minutes.
Where that puts Wilson’s status for opening day next week depends on who you ask.
Wilson gave the impression that Wednesday’s workout was just another step on the road to getting ready. But manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants would not rush to get Wilson ready for the opener, suggesting that he may open the season on the disabled list.
“We’re running short on time,” Bochy said. “This isn’t the time to rush Willie back.”
Then, when the game started against the Angels, Matt Cain got tagged for five first-inning runs in his second start back from elbow inflammation.
The bad inning started with a swinging bunt single by Erick Aybar. Howie Kendrick singled sharply up the middle. Then Bobby Abreu hit an 0-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run homer. After Torii Hunter walked and stole second, Cain got Vernon Wells and Albert Callaspo to fly out (more on the second out later). Mark Trumbo followed with deep double to left-center to score Hunter. Trumbo then scored on a single by Jeff Mathis.
In the second and third innings, Cain surrendered no runs on two hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
The good news is that Cain said he felt good after the start, encouraged that he felt as strong at the end of his three innings as he did at the start. But he added he was “out of rhythm” which caused some pitches to leak out over the plate.
It was the third consecutive uneven start by Giants pitchers, following Madison Bumgarner’s rough start Sunday against the A’s, and Tim Lincecum’s outing Monday against the Rockies in a game that was eventually called for rain.
The end result Wednesday was an 8-0 loss to the Angels, the third consecutive loss for the Giants and the fourth in their last five games.
But the biggest loss Wednesday was that off right fielder Cody Ross. Ross suffered a strained calf on a fairly routine fly ball off the bat of Callaspo.
Ross limped off the field on his own power and went for an MRI. The Giants announced late Wednesday that Ross had sustained a strained calf. Just how long he’ll be sidelined likely won’t be know until Thursday.
It’s funny how quickly things can change. Last week, the season couldn’t start quickly enough for the Giants. And now, they wouldn’t mind a few more days to get ready.
But the season is rapidly approaching.
Barry Zito will take the mound as the Giants face the Indians Thursday night. Madison Bumgarner makes his final Cactus League start Friday night against the Royals.
Saturday is a split-squad day, with a day game against the Reds and a nightcap vs. the Indians. Lincecum is due to make his final spring start, but we’re not sure which game he will pitch. Jonathan Sanchez will cap the Arizona portion of the spring schedule against the Royals on Sunday.
On Monday, the Giants return home to open a three-game set against the A’s. Cain would pitch Monday at AT&T Park; Zito goes Tuesday in Oakland and Bumgarner would pitch Wednesday afternoon back at AT&T before the team heads to LA to open the 2011 season at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
Jonathan Sanchez had another solid spring outing and the Giants posted another win, shutting out the Los Angeles Angels 4-0 on Thursday.
With the win, the Giants improved to 17-5 in the spring.
Sanchez gave up just one hit and one walk in six innings. He struck out five.
Four pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout. So while the effort added to the Giants’ impressive spring pitching, it must be taken with a grain of salt.
The lineup the Angels ran out against the Giants was devoid of regular starters. Center fielder Peter Bourjos was the only Angels regular in the lineup.
Pablo Sandoval was 2 for 4 with a double, run and RBI. Pat Burrell had a double in three at-bats.
The Giants scored three runs in the fourth inning off Angels starter Dan Haren.
After Andres Torres was hit by a pitch, Torres scored on Sandoval’s double. Miguel Tejada singled Sandoval home, and Tejada scored on Burrell’s double.
Save for two pitches, Barry Zito had a solid outing against the Angels. But those two pitches were enough to lift the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Giants on Saturday.
Tim Lincecum had his best outing of the spring. However, the two-time Cy Young Award winner only last four innings in the Giants’ 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.
Lincecum gave up just one run on six hits and two walks. He also struck out seven batters and threw 84 pitches in his four innings of work.
Lincecum also developed a tiny cut on the middle finger of his throwing that kept manager Bruce Bochy from sending him back out to the mound in the fifth inning.
Friday’s start figured to be Lincecum’s last against spring training start against major league competition. His next turn in the rotation is slated to come Wednesday, when the Giants face the Dodgers. But Lincecum is more likely to start in a minor league game or instraquad game for two reasons — one, it allows the pitcher to work on his mechanics in a more relaxed atmosphere, and two, it keeps an NL West rival from getting a close look at Lincecum so close to the start of the season.
For more on Lincecum’s outing Friday, click here.
Inside the box score
Aaron Rowand continued to tear it up this spring, going 2 for 3 with a double, triple, run scored and RBI.
John Bowker came off the bench to play a few innings in right field as he made his push not only to make the club, but maybe win the starting RF job. He was 0 for 2 from the plate.
Andres Torres was 1 for 3 with a walk and two stolen bases
Buster Posey came off the bench to double home Torres with the tying run in the eighth as the Giants rallied for three runs in the frame.
Eugenio Velez got the start at 2B. He was 2 for 4, but also committed an error.
Travis Ishikawa played a little LF as the Giants tried to see what versatility in the field the normal first baseman has.
Barry Zito takes to the mound as the Giants face the Angels again at 1:05 p.m. Saturday. The game will air at 2 p.m. on a tape-delay basis on MLB Network, again for no apparent reason.