The Giants won another spring training game, beating the Mariners to improve to 7-3. But the real story was the progress of Buster Posey and the return of Brian Wilson.
Posey made his second spring start, catching four innings and going 0 for 2.
“I felt good today and I was happy again with how my ankle felt,” Posey said.
Posey grounded out to short in the second and grounded out to third in third, both against Mariners ace Felix Hernandez.
“I got ahead 2-0 in both at-bats,” he said. “I saw some good pitches in the first at-bat. Got a pretty good pitch 2-0, just rolled over it. I feel good at the plate … I feel like I’m seeing the ball well.”
Posey said the plan was to catch four more innings Tuesday against the Cubs, but manager Bruce Bochy would see how the catch feels Monday before finalizing Posey’s next appearance.
Wilson made his first spring appearance as the Giants take a cautious approach after The Beard’s elbow problems last season.
He was slated to throw between 20-25 pitches, but needed only nine to get through a scoreless fourth inning.
Wilson threw only fastballs and cutters, with his fastball clocked at 93-94 MPH.
“The ball was coming out really well,” Posey said. “The cutter was good. He looked great.”
Posey and Wilson finished their day with a flourish, with Wilson striking out Vinnie Catricala and Posey hosing Carlos Peguero trying to steal second in a strike-em-out-throw-em-out double play.
“It’s nice to see Buster behind the dish throwing people out,” Wilson said. “Although the ideal situation is not to have a guy on. But I’ll take it.”
Wilson is scheduled to pitch again Wednesday against the Indians.
- Another day and Melky Cabrera continues to rake. He went 2 for 3 with two RBI. He’s hitting .542.
- Another young catcher shined on Sunday. Hector Sanchez belted home runs from each side of the plate, finishing 2 for 2 with 3 RBI. He’s hitting .500.
- OF Gregor Blanco continues to give the Giants something to think about, going 2 for 3 with a stolen base. He’s hitting .474 in his push to make the club as a reserve outfielder.
- Emmanuel Burris went 2 for 3 with two runs and a stolen base. He started at 2B, but moved to 3B late in the game, where he committed a throwing error.
- C Chris Stewart, known for his defense, had rough day behind the plate, allowing a run to score on a passed ball and committing a throwing error.
- P Eric Surkamp, the first candidate to step into the rotation in case of injury, bounced back from a rough first start. He gave up a run on three hits and three strikeouts in three innings.
Tim Lincecum is slated to take the mound as the Giants take on the Royals in Surprise at 1:05 p.m.
Giants fans got the confirmation Thursday morning that they’ve been waiting for since last May.
Buster Posey will play in a Giants uniform on Friday against the Reds.
“The plan is to catch a couple innings tomorrow,” Posey told the San Jose Mercury News on Thursday morning. “I’m excited.”
He’s not the only one.
Posey ran the basepaths and noticed significant improvement.
When asked by a reporter to give a percentage of how hard he was running, Posey replied with a question of his own.
“How hard do you think I was running?” he asked with a smile.
When Chronicle reporter Henry Schulman said about 80 percent, Posey replied: “I guess Henry doesn’t think I have much left in the tank.”
All joking aside, Posey said he was running at about 60-70 percent effort after running on the outfield cut of the grass on Monday. He’s expected to run bases again Thursday.
“I’m happy I’ve been able to do baseball activities,” Posey said. “We knew from the time I was injured (last May) that bases would be the last thing to come. We’ve been lucky everything has gone smoothly as it has.”
Freddy Sanchez also is expected to make his spring debut Friday, as the designated hitter.
Sanchez, who had shoulder surgery last August, practiced throwing across his body from second base for the first time Wednesday. But the Giants will continue to take a conservative approach with him.
Both Posey and Sanchez hit live batting practice against Brian Wilson on Wednesday.
Wilson, who is coming off elbow troubles last year, declared himself ready to go.
“I’m totally ready ready, and now I have three days to prepare myself.”
Wilson will make his spring debut Sunday or Monday.
Good news for Giants reliever Runzler
The last thing Dan Runzler wanted to do this spring was take a flight to Florida to see Dr. James Andrews.
But the report from the doctor was good, and the left-hander could be back pitching in games by mid-to-late April.
Runzler took his lat muscle in the regular-season finale. He had been healthy this spring until he felt something grab in his shoulder during a bullpen session late last week.
But Andrews said that Runzler only aggravated the injury and would not require surgery.
“It definitely put my head at ease,” Runzler told CSNBayArea.com. “He compared the MRIs before and after and said it was just a small aggravation. It’s not like I re-did it. He was very optimistic.”
Runzler said he should be game ready in four to six weeks.
That will take him out of the running for the final bullpen spot, expected to go to Clay Hensley.
Runzler expects to open the season in extended spring training. Then, he’ll likely head to Fresno
The Giants received some encouraging news on some of their ailing or rehabbing stars. We may see all (or at least most) of the Giants in a spring training game by the end of the week.
BUSTER POSEY: Posey really wanted to be ready to for last Saturday’s spring opener. He was close, but the Giants took the conservative road and held him out. Manager Bruce Bochy said Monday that Posey worked on his running and sliding on Monday. He is scheduled to start running full speed on the bases Tuesday to make sure his surgically-repaired ankle can hold up to making turns on the bases. If everything goes well, Posey could make his spring debut as a DH on Friday against the Reds. Bochy said he could even catch an inning or two.
FREDDY SANCHEZ: The second baseman coming off shoulder surgery may have already been in games as a DH if he did suffer back spasms early last week. That spring debut could come Thursday or Friday for Sanchez. Bochy said he’s not ready to get Sanchez in the game as a second baseman, but he’s more willing to get his bat into game situations.
BRIAN WILSON: The Beard pronounced himself ready to go after throwing batting practice on Sunday. Bochy said Wilson will make his spring debut on Sunday, after throwing another BP session on Wednesday. Wilson is recovering from elbow inflammation that cost him most of the final two months of 2011.
DAN RUNZLER: Runzler was sent to see Dr. James Andrews for a consultation on his strained shoulder on Sunday. We haven’t heard anything since. And in this case, no news is bad news. A lat strain could sideline Runzler six weeks. He needed a strong spring to make the roster. That won’t happen now.
MoreSplashHits is launching something new today, providing a roundup of each day’s news from Giants spring training with links and commentary.
Monday’s news focused on pitchers providing optimistic reports (are there any other kinds of reports in late February?), including Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Dan Runzler and Ryan Vogelsong.
We’ll start with The Beard.
WILSON: Wilson admitted earlier this spring that he pitched through pain through most of 2011. It started early in spring training with a hip injury that eventually lead to the Giants closer opening the season on the disabled list. It ended with Wilson’s season effectively ending in mid-August with elbow problems.
So the Giants are taking a conservative approach this spring with Wilson. He’s not scheduled to pitch in a spring training game until at least March 11. But Wilson says that won’t keep him from being ready for the season opener on April 6.
“If there’s a save opportunity on Opening Day, I’ll be saving the game,” Wilson declared Monday.
For more on The Beard, check out Andrew Baggarly’s report on CSNBayArea.com.
LINCECUM: The Freak faced hitters for the first time this spring and rated the workout an 8.5 out of 10. Lincecum did not allow a ball to leave the infield while facing prospects Connor Gillaspie, Justin Christian, Andrew Sugac and Francisco Peguero. Bochy said Lincecum is on pace to pitch the Giants spring opener on Saturday.
RUNZLER: The left-handers has come to camp looking to tap into the potential the Giants were excited about since making a rapid rise through the ranks in 2009.
But injury and an inability to consistently throw strikes have hurt Runzler’s development. He dislocated his knee while swinging and missing during his first major league at-bat in 2010. The Giants dabbled with the idea of converting Runzler into a starting pitcher in 2011, but that idea appears to have been scrubbed. Finally, Runzler pulled a lat muscle in last season’s final game.
Now, he’s facing long odds of making the opening day roster, but is still working toward that goal. For more, see Baggarly’s report.
THIS AND THAT
- Ryan Vogelsong, whose start to camp has been delayed by a back issue, threw from flat ground Monday and felt “really, really good.” He may throw again Tuesday.
- 2B Freddy Sanchez developed lower back stiffness Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy called it a “hiccup.” But any hiccup with Sanchez this spring will cause Giants fans to hold THEIR breath.
- C Buster Posey, who looks good in facing live pitching in batting practice for the first time over the weekend, got Monday off. All part of his spring rehab plan.
It used to be that every player showed up to spring training out of shape. Then they’d spend six weeks whipping themselves into playing shape.
But those days are long gone. Most players these days spend the offseason sticking to a steady offseason workout regimen. Spring training is about refining their hitting, fielding and pitching skills.
Still, several Giants reported to camp this season and discussed (whether they wanted to or not) about their weight. In some cases, their weight kept them from reporting to camp. Here’s where how some Giants are doing in the battle against the bulge.
PABLO SANDOVAL: Yes, Sandoval’s weight is making news. And he may be getting tired talking about it. But what do you expect when your nickname is “Kung Fu Panda?” Sandoval broke in with the Giants as a lovable round rookie in 2008 and made a big splash in 2009, earning the nickname from Barry Zito (Zito’s greatest contribution as a Giant). But the pounds kept coming in 2010 and production dropped off, eventually earning Sandoval a spot on the bench as the Giants made their postseason run. Sandoval rededicated himself that offseason, losing 38 pounds. The slimmer Panda was the most productive Giants with the bat in 2011, even after missing six weeks with a broken bone in his hand. No one seemed to care as he added 10-20 pounds by season’s end. Sandoval will step on the scales Thursday, but doesn’t seem to care about the number. He spent the winter again working out in Arizona. Manager Bruce Bochy raised concerns about Sandoval’s weight a couple weeks ago, not coincidentally right about the time Sandoval signed a three-year, $17 million contract. But the skipper seemed less concerned when Sandoval arrived in cap. As long as The Panda hits and fields third base, it doesn’t really matter what his weight is.
AUBREY HUFF: Huff arrived at camp looking lean after spending the winter working out in Arizona and resuming the Pilates workouts that he did prior to the 2010 season when he hit .290 and belted 26 home runs. The Giants suggested that Huff was out of shape when he arrived at camp last spring, leading to a 2011 season in which he hit .246 and 12 homers. Huff worked himself into shape this winter because the Giants are considering playing him in left field, preferring to let Brandon Belt focus on first base. Last season, Huff looked lost in the offseason. It’s something to watch this spring.
ANGEL VILLALONA: One Giant prospect not in camp is Angel Villalona. Villalona hasn’t played baseball in two years after dealing with legal issues in the Dominican Republic. He has not been issued a visa to enter the U.S. because his visa requires him to be an “elite athlete.” Apparently, Villalona’s weight and other health issues have prevented him from earning that distinction. The Giants hope the delay is only temporary. In the meantime, he’ll continue to work out at the Giants’ Dominican facility.
BRIAN WILSON: The Giants closer said he lost 10 to 15 pounds in the offseason as he concentrated on more cardio exercising than weightlifting. Wilson said that his devotion to weightlifting last offseason may have contributed to his elbow problems that shortened his 2011. But more than that, he said it had more to do with the Giants deep postseason run of 2010 and the shortened offseason.
TIM LINCECUM: You wouldn’t generally think of The Freak and weight issues. The right-hander ended the 2010 season at 160 pounds. Thinking he needed to add bulk to aid his durability, he added 15 pounds that offseason. Normally, the pounds start to come off during the season. But last season, his weight jumped to 187, fueled by a steady diet of In-N-Out’s Double-Doubles. His weight eventually went to 196 pounds by last October. “I wore a lot of sweats that month.” Sparked by teasing from his father, Lincecum spent much of this offseason swimming and avoiding junk food. Lincecum reported to camp at 175 pounds. “I’m not crushing vegtables by any means, but I am eating a lot better.”
Come October, the Giants may be in a position where they look back at several key moments that proved to be the difference between making the postseason and not.
Monday’s 5-4 loss in Atlanta, when the Braves scored three times in the ninth to win, may be one of those moments. And it’s hard to shake the feeling that it could have — even should have — been avoided, if not for Bruce Bochy’s decision to stand by his closer, Brian Wilson.
Now, we’re not suggesting Wilson be replaced as the Giants’ closer. Far from it. But with the depth and talent the Giants have in their bullpen, there really is no need to ALWAYS go to Wilson in save opportunities, especially if Wilson is not 100 percent.
Bothered by a stiff back — an issue that has lingered with Wilson all the way back into spring training — Wilson was unavailable to close Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Marlins. Prior to Monday’s game in Atlanta, Bochy was taking a wait-and-see approach on whether Wilson. But in the ninth, there was Wilson on the mound.
Now anyone who has ever been bothered with a sore back — particularly a recurring one — knows that you don’t go from “not being able to perform” to “100 percent” in 24 hours. So why even risk sending Wilson out in the ninth.
It wasn’t as if the bullpen has been taxed over the past few days. Matt Cain threw six innings on Friday, leaving an inning each for Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez. Tim Lincecum threw seven innings on Saturday, leaving an inning each for Affeldt and Wilson. And Ryan Vogelsong threw 7.2 innings on Sunday, leaving an inning for Santiago Casilla, Affledt and Ramirez to face one hitter each on Sunday.
Bochy passed on hitting for Madison Bumgarner in the seventh when the lefty had already thrown over a 100 pitches and the Giants holding a 3-2 lead. The move worked when Bumgarner set the side down in order in the seventh, then Mike Fontenot added a run with home run to left-center in the eighth.
But then Bochy went to Wilson to close out a 4-2 lead in the ninth. But wouldn’t have it been better to send Affeldt out to open the inning against the left-handed hitting Jose Constanza? With the lefty Affeldt on the mound, the Braves likely don’t send the left-handed hitting Eric Hinske to pinch hit, instead turning to righties like Julio Lugo, Brooks Conrad or David Ross, as Chipper Jones was clearly not an option with a sore knee. Wouldn’t those matchups have been more favorable, even if it meant going to the pen to get Casilla or Ramirez? Note: Sergio Romo was not an option, as it appears he’s headed for the DL with a tender elbow.
We’ve seen guys like Affeldt, Casilla and Ramirez get big outs in the 6th, 7th or 8th inning. What makes Bochy think they can’t get outs in the 9th, particularly with a two-run lead and a less-than-perfect Wilson? I’d much rather see Casilla, Affeldt or Ramirez at 100 percent, than Wilson at 80 or 90 percent.
Wilson said afterwards that his back was not an issue. But early in the inning, his pitches were topping out at 93 mph. It wasn’t until he faced Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman later in the inning that his pitches started to hit 96 and 97 mph. But by that time he was in a heap a trouble.
Wilson also said that none of the hits the Braves got were hammered. They just found holes. And that is true. Constanza opened the inning with a grounder to short that Orlando Cabrera mishandled into an infield single. But then Wilson failed to challenge Hinske, nibbling around the edges and eventually losing him to a walk that put the tying run on with no outs. A sacrifice put runners on second and third before a single by Martin Prado past the diving Mike Fontenot at third scored one run.
Wilson then walked Brian McCann on four pitches. Some may say Wilson was not giving in to the dangerous McCann, but the walk moved the winning run into scoring position with one out. Wilson struck out Dan Uggla with some 97 mph gas and was one pitch from getting Freeman when he got ahead of him 1-2. But Freeman worked the count to 3-2 before slapping a Wilson fastball up the middle for the winning hit.
Now the Giants find themselves 2.5 games behind Arizona in the West and 5 games behind the Braves in the wild-card. The Giants really needed to earn at least a split in Atlanta with the Diamondbacks headed to Philadelphia for three. Tuesday, the Giants send Jonathan Sanchez to the mound, and that hardly fills any die-hard Giants fan with confidence, even with the Braves countering with a rookie pitcher just called up from Triple-A.
The season isn’t over by a long shot, and there’s plenty of baseball to be played. But it will be hard to look back on the night on Aug. 15 in Atlanta if the Giants fall one game short of the postseason.
The Giants are mired in a four-game losing streak. They were just swept at home by the Atlanta Braves. And they are about to start a nine-game road trip.
There has been not a lot for Giants fans to smile about over the past few days.
So we offer you this video of internet-sensation Keenan Cahill and Giants stars Brian Wilson and Cody Ross lip-syncing to Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite.” Try watching this and not smile.
Cahill is a 16-year-old from the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst who suffers from Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome — a rare and complex condition that includes stunted growth. According to Yahoo Sports, drugs to treat this condition run annually in the six figures.
Three years ago, Cahill began posting videos of him lip-syncing to his favorite videos, and those video went viral. His video have received more than 230 million page views.
He’s done late-night TV interviews, recorded a commercial with Jennifer Aniston, received a birthday message from Katie Perry and done a video with 50 Cent, to name a few.
Cahill recorded the “Dynamite” video with Wilson and Ross — and mascot Lou Seal — during spring training in Arizona. According to Fox Sports, the video has received more than 1 million views in its first week.
The video was made to promote a “Dynamite” fundraiser hosted by the Giants on May 25 during their home game with the Florida Marlins. Fans at the game will get a “Ross is Boss” T-shirt and watch the full video production of the Giants/Cahill video. Proceeds will benefit causes “both dear to Cody and Keenan.”
Ironically (or perhaps not), the Marlins are the team that placed Ross on waivers last August when he was claimed by the Giants. Ross went to be a postseason hero and NLCS MVP as he helped the Giants claim their first World Series title in 56 years.
So, we knew the Giants are champions. But now we also know they’re pretty cool guys, as well.