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.
The pitching news from spring training started out bad Monday after the Giants were coming off a terrible outing from Barry Zito.
Things got worse when word spread that Eric Surkamp, viewed to be the first option for the starting rotation if anyone got hurt or pounded, was being shut down for a week with irritated elbow.
On Sunday, GM Brian Sabaen hinted that the Giants might need a No. 5 starter OTHER THAN Vogelsong on April 15.
So Giants were holding their breath when Ryan Vogelsong took the mound Monday against the Royals in his first big-league game this spring after suffering a back strain last month.
Well, Giants fans, exhale.
Vogelsong gave up one run on two hits in 2 2/3 innings, striking out two in his 39-pitch outing. Both Kansas City hits deflected off Giants outfielders. With a little help, Vogelsong could have sailed through a hitless outing.
“I defintiely felt better the second and third inning mechanically and rhythm-wise,” Vogelsong said. “I kind of fell into a good rhythm after the first inning, get that first one out of the way and get back to business.”
After the game, manager Bruce Bochy called Vogelsong’s outing a huge relief and said the plan is for Vogelsong to work towards making his first start on April 15 at home against the Pirates. That means a trip to the DL to open the season.
CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly wrote that Vogelsong will pitch next Saturday and will throw 50 pitches. MoreSplashHits believes that Saturday start will be in a minor league game so the Giants can backdate his DL stint early enough for him to be activated on April 15.
His next outing would then come on April 5, either in extended spring training or possibly the Fresno Grizzlies’ season opener at Tucson (although spring training seems more likely).
Finally, Vogelsong could be slotted to pitch April 10 for the Grizzlies at Las Vegas. That would put him right on line to start 15th against the Bucs.
“If that’s what they tell me to do, that’s what I need to do,” Vogelsong said.
Sounds good to us.
- 3B Pablo Sandoval, who has been scuffling this spring, got things together Monday. He went 3 for 5 with an infield, a double and a game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth.
- OF Angel Pagan, who also has been scuffling, continued to scuffle. He went 0 for 4 with a strikeout. The Chronicle’ Henry Schulman tweeted that Pagan looks lost at the plate. Need more evidence? Pagan’s .176 spring average is worse than Aaron Rowand’s .182. Yikes!
- Another Giant whose spring keeps getting worse is Ryan Theriot. Theriot rolled his ankle last week but was back at shortstop Monday, with his .194 spring average. Then Theriot went to catch a pick off attempt by Vogelsong at second base when the ball glanced off his glove and hit him in the nose. Theriot was bleeding heavily, but the Giants don’t believe his nose is broken. He went for X-rays afterwards. Even if it’s not broken, the Giants face a Thursday deadline to decide whether to guarantee Theriot’s $1.25 million contract.
- So time is running short.
- C Buster Posey caught seven more innings Monday, and went 1 for 2 with a double and a walk. His spring average is .333. He’ll catchTim Lincecum on Tuesday in his first back-to-back catching effort of the season.
- Brian Wilson pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hits and striking out one before declaring himself ready to go for the season.
Lincecum will make his second-to-last spring start when the Giants face the Angels at 1:05 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Well, that was a very Barry Zito-like outing.
While Zito has had some good moments this spring, Sunday’s game against the White Sox was not one of them.
Zito gave up five runs (all earned) on nine hits and two walks in 2 1/3 innings.
“The ball was up in the zone,” Zito said. “I’ve been harping on getting the ball dow, throwing in a downhill plane. Today I was just rushing my body and the arm couldn’t catch up. Downhill plane is everything.”
Well, Giants fans know all to well about Zito and his downhill plane.
Zito’s outing is worth a second look (perhaps not for those with weak stomachs).
It started well enough, with Alejandro De Aza striking out. But then came a double to Brent Lillibridge, a walk to Adam Dunn and an RBI single by Paul Kornerko. However, Dunn helped the Giants out by trying to take third on the play and was thrown out by Melky Cabrera.
Then came another walk to AJ Pierzynski. A single to Alex Rios loaded the bases. Then Zito got out of the mess by striking out Dayan Viciedo.
So the first inning line was 1 run on three hits and two walks.
Gordon Beckham opened the second with a double and took third on a single by Eduardo Escobar to open the second. De Aza bunted Beckham home for the second run of the game and first out of the inning. Lillibridge grounded out and Dunn struck out.
Konerko opened the third with a single, then Pierzynksi homered to left. Rios made it back-to-back by homering to left. Viciedo grounded out, but Beckham’s double to left brought the hook for Zito.
Zito threw 60 pitches in the game, then threw another 25 in the bullpen after getting pulled.
“Just give us a chance to win,” manager Bruce Bochy said of the expectations of Zito this season. “He got knocked out today. That’s what we want to stay away from. He never got settled in. Every inning was a struggle for him. If (Cabrera) didn’t make that play in the first inning, I don’t think he gets out of that inning.”
Despite seeing his spring ERA jumping from 4.50 to 6.61, Zito is in no danger of losing his spot in the rotation.
“He was out of sync,” Bochy said. “He couldn’t get the ball where he wanted. He just didn’t have it today. You don’t like to see it when you get this close to the season, but it’s going to happen, and better now than during the season.”
Charting Zito starts this spring, his next start should come Friday against the Padres, then April 4 at AT&T Park against the A’s in the preseason finale. That would align him to make his first start of the season on April 9 at Colorado, assuming Ryan Vogelsong starts the season on the DL.
A late-spring road game meant most regulars did not play against the White Sox. And the ones that did, didn’t do much (Gregor Blanco 0 for 3, Nate Schierholtz 0 for 3, Melky Cabrera 0 for 2 with a walk, Brett Pill 0 for 4).
Ryan Vogelsong will get the start and aim to make 40 pitches as the Giants face the Royals at 1:05 p.m. Monday.
Well, we can see that Matt Cain is about ready for the season. Maybe the Giants ought to thinking about signing this guy past this season. Just a thought.
Cain sailed through five innings against the Reds, giving up no runs, four hits, no walks and fanning five.
“Everything is going good,” Cain told the AP. “I’m just getting my pitch count up. … I don’t have much to work on.”
Cain is on schedule to start Thursday against the Rangers in his final spring start in the desert. Then, he should get the call on April 3 against the A’s in Oakland. That would align him perfectly to throw in Game No. 3 of the regular season on April 8 at Arizona.
- OF Gregor Blanco showed a rare boost of power, belting a home run in the second inning. He finished 1 for 5. His spring average has been slowly dipping in the past week down to .373. But it doesn’t matter much. His speed and glove will keep him on the roster, two things that don’t go into a slump.
- 1B Brandon Belt keeps doing his thang. He went 3 for 4 with a walk and a double. He’s hitting .380. Although Bruce Bochy still says the decision on whether to keep Belt on roster will go down to the wire, we can’t see how he doesn’t break camp with the club.
- OF Nate Schierholtz went 2 for 3 with a walk, as he tries to get things together as talk begins to circulate that his RF job is jeopardy (possibly to Belt, who would actually play LF with Melky Cabrera sliding to RF).
Barry Zito gets the start as the Giants travel to play the White Sox at 1:05 p.m. The game will be aired on tape-delay at 9 p.m. on MLB Network.
It seems with every game Buster Posey plays this spring, he hits a new milestone in his recovery from last year’s season-ending injury.
On Friday against the Rangers, it was Posey first play at home since getting bulled over by the Marlins’ Scott Cousins.
But by all accounts, Posey passed this test, like he’s passed just about all other tests this spring.
Well, except, the runner wasn’t out. But who cares? Posey was not hurt.
“One run’s not worth him missing the whole year again,” pitcher Madison Bumgarner put it.
The play came in the fifth inning, with the Rangers’ Mitch Moreland on second when Elvis Andrus singled to center.
Angel Pagan came up throwing home on the play. It was a good throw. Posey positioned himself in front of home plate, a bit more out in front than on the Cousins play last May. Moreland then came into the plate wide with a hook side.
Posey fielded the throw, then lunged at Moreland with a sweep tag. At first it appeared that Posey missed Moreland all together. But Posey said he tagged him high. It’s hard to say whether Moreland’s hand swiped the plate before Posey’s tag.
Even though every one else in the park might have been thinking about it, Posey said he wasn’t thinking back to last May when the play developed.
“I was more thinking kind of about the work we’d done this spring and all the practice and stuff,” Posey said. “And I think … it was was good.”
It may have been the first play at the plate, but it won’t be Posey’s last. But again, it’s a step.
Oh and the home plate umpire who made the call at the plate? Derryl Cousins, oddly enough. No relation.
- Somewhat lost in the hub-bub of the Posey play at the plate was the fact that it appeared that the Giants were headed to their second consecutive shutout loss. That is until Brett Pill’s home run in the ninth inning. It was Pill’s third homer this spring and second in three days as he makes a late push to make the club.
- 1B Brandon Belt, also competing to make the club, went 2 for 3 with a walk. He’s hitting .348 this spring.
- Aubrey Huff, getting the start in left, had a double over the center fielder’s head in left-center. It was Huff’s first double of the spring.
- Ryan Theriot started at 3B and went 0 for 3, dropping his spring average to .200 — although he was robbed of an infield hit by a bad call at first.
- Meanwhile, Emmanuel Burriss started at 2B and went 2 for 3, raising his averge to .436.
- Madison Bumgarner gave up one run in 5 2/3 innings (the run coming on that play at the plate). But he also gave up eight hits, all singles. In fact, the Rangers had 13 hits in the game, all singles.
- Javier Lopez got tagged for three runs on four singles in the ninth.
- Sergio Romo returned to action after sitting out with a cranky elbow. He had a 1-2-3 eighth with a strikeout.
The Giants have their final split-squad day of the spring. Both are 1:05 p.m. games. Matt Cain will start on the road against the Reds. Posey will start at 1B in that game. Minor leaguer Travis Blackley will start in Scottsdale against the Rockies.
Manager Bruce Bochy best summed up the Giants performance Thursday night against the Rockies.
“Ohhh boy, this is about as ugly as we’ve had. Just had an awful game tonight,” Bochy said. “Sure (a no-hitter) would have been embarrassing. We were embarrassed tonight. I don’t care if it’s a pickup game, spring training –We’re leaving here in about 10 days.”
Yes, it’s never good when you have four times as many errors as hits. It’s never good when you get one-hit in a spring training game.
It’s never good when you go 12-up-and-12-down against a 49-year-old pitcher.
But that’s what happened. The Giants only hit was a seventh-inning double off the top of the fence by Pablo Sandoval.
Sandoval has been scuffling this spring. Bochy said he would go to a minor-league game on Friday to get more at-bats and find his groove.
It was so ugly that I didn’t even link the box score. Nothing to see there.
But there are some possible explanations for Thursday’s performance. Some good. Some not so good.
- Giants announcers Jon Miller and Dave Fleming tried to explain that sometimes at this point in spring training players are ready to play games that count, so they lose focus. A good thought, but Thursday’s lineup included hitters who needed to focus because their swing is not quite regular-season ready.
- The Rockies rolled out a lineup that looked a lot like they one they’ll roll out on opening day. The Giants did not. SS Brandon Crawford was under the weather and got the day off. Emmanuel Burriss and Ryan Theriot, both candidates to start at 2B if Freddy Sanche is unable to go, sat out with minor injuries. C Buster Posey got the day off. OF Nate Schierholtz was playing his first game in a few days nursing a minor injury. Even Tim Lincecum passed on facing the Rockies, choosing instead to throw in a minor-league game. So the Rockies faced Brian Burres.
- The Giants have a tendency to struggle against soft throwers. And Moyer is the softest of soft throwers. This was the second time this spring Moyer has shut them down. He’s allowed just one hit in six innings this spring against San Francisco. The Giants can only hope that Moyer doesn’t make the Rockies rotation (doubtful) or that if he does, that he pitches in one of the Rockies first three games, and not in the Rockies’ second series of the season against the Giants (even more doubtful).
- It was just one of those days.
Madison Bumgarner takes the hill as the Giants face the Rangers at 6:05 p.m. The game will be televised on a one-hour delay at 7 p.m. on the MLB Network. But fans with an MLB.TV subscription can watch it live.
So, I guess I need to restart my subscription to Sports Illustrated
The venerated sports magazine predicts the San Francisco Giants to return to the World Series in 2012.
SI says the Giants will win the NL West with a 90-72 record, two games ahead of the Diamondbacks and seven games ahead of the Dodgers.
Then it’s off to the playoffs, where the Diamondbacks beat the Marlins in the one-game wild-card playoff.
The Giants beat the Reds in the division series, then advanced to beat the Phillies in the NLCS.
The Giants, SI says, will face the Angels in the World Series on the 10-year anniversary of the teams’ last meeting in the Fall Classic.
SI then predicts another Angels victory.
The prediction of the Angels to win the AL pennant is a sensible one. The Angels spent millions in the offseason adding players like Albert Pujols and CJ Wilson.
The Giants, meanwhile, spent millions in the offseason … to make sure Aaron Rowand is NOT on the team. Addition by subtraction.
Well, whatever the logic, we like SI’s prediction, except we’ll take exception to the opponent.
The Giants have faced a different AL West team in each of the past three trips to the World Series — the A’s, the Angels and the Rangers.
So according for form, the Giants’ next World Series foe should be the Mariners.
And if it is Seattle, the Mariners don’t stand a chance against the Giants’ potent offense — at least potent when compared the Mariners’ offense.
But, hey, pitching wins championships, right?