In the offseason, the Giants said they would be willing to let Brandon Crawford be their starting shortstop if they upgraded their offense enough.
After adding Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera, it didn’t appear the Giants had done that. Yet Crawford entered camp with the shortstop job his to lose, even with the addition of Ryan Theriot.
We all knew Crawford could pick it at shortstop. But after watching him hit .204 when he was rushed to the majors last season, we weren’t sure if his bat was ready.
But Crawford went to work on his swing in the offseason, making it more compact so he could get on pitches quicker. And the results have been evident this spring.
Crawford belted his first home run of the spring Thursday in the Giants win over the Mariners.
“He’s worked on shortening up his swing, and he’s getting results,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We know it’s Spring Training, but it’s nice to see him swing the bat.”
He is hitting .400 (14 for 20) with a .520 OBP this spring. And maybe most importantly, no strikeouts in 25 spring plate appearances.
After the Giants drafted Crawford after UCLA, they discovered they had a slick-fielding big shortstop with a big swing.
That big swing left big holes. Crawford had a 24.4 pct. strikeout rate in his first full year in the minors in 2009 (between Class A and AA). In 2010 (also A and AA), it was a 22.7 pct.
When he got called up last year, Crawford knew he needed to focus more on making contact, which he did. His strikeout rate was 14.1 pct in the majors. Unfortunately, the improved contact was often weak contact, result in the average around the Mendoza Line.
Now, he’s making contact, and it’s solid. The Giants have him penciled in for the No. 8 spot in the lineup. And they have Theriot on the lineup to play against tough lefties (Crawford’s average was as even more anemic .133 against lefties).
So expectations are low for Crawford. But he’s exceeding them right now.
- Another day, another Gregor Blanco highlight. Blanco opened the game with a single and went to second when the outfielder bobbled the ball. He advanced to third on a fly ball and scored on Brett Pill’s double. Then, as Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury News put it, “went to San Francisco to find an apartment.” Possibly.
- Another player doing his best to secure a San Francisco address is Brandon Belt. Belt went 3 for 5 with a run and RBI. He nearly missed a homer on his double off the wall in right. He’s hitting .375.
- C Hector Sanchez went 1 for 2 and is now hitting .450. But his issues behind the plate remained evident. He allowed a runner to go from second to third on a passed ball, then allowed that runner to score on a wild pitch.
- Barry Zito got threw four innings, throwing 62 pitches (38 for strikes). He gave up two runs on four hits, with two walks and four strikeouts. The two runs came when he walked Casper Wells on a 3-1 pitch, then gave up a home run to Mike Carp.
Eric Surkamp will be on the mound and Buster Posey behind the plate as the Giants face the Cubs at 1:05 p.m. Friday.
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.
Well, let’s hope we don’t see any of these once the season begins.
The Giants got great pitching, limiting the Mariners to one run on three hits. But they didn’t get much hitting, managing only four hits in a 1-0 loss on Tuesday.
It’s hard to find highlights when all the Giants managed is singles by Darren Ford, Aubrey Huff, Mike Fontenot and a double by Nate Schierholtz.
So highlights are few and far between. But here they are:
RYAN VOGELSONG: Trying to earn the long spot in the bullpen, Vogelsong gave up one run on two hits in 3 2/3 innings. He walked three, but struck out five. His spring ERA is 1.04.
DAN RUNZLER: Runzler, also in the mix as long man, pitched 2 1/3 hitless innings with one walk and one strikeout. His spring ERA is 1.69.
MoreSplashHits is getting caught up after a busy week. The Giants played four games over the weekend, winning three and improving to 8-3 on the spring.
The weekend included the spring debut of The Beard. MoreSplashHits always thought Brian Wilson was a member of the Beach Boys. But looking at The Beard, we’re thinking maybe it was ZZ Top.
Here are highlights from the weekend.
GIANTS 6, MARINERS 1
TIM LINCECUM: The Freak continues to get into regular-season form. He struck out seven in 3 2/3 IPs with no runs, 3 hits and 3 BBs.
BRIAN WILSON: The Beard made its spring debut, striking out two with no hits or walks in one 10-pitch inning.
BUSTER POSEY: Posey had a double, two RBI and a walk in two at-bats. He’s hitting .643 for the spring.
PABLO SANDOVAL: After back-to-back 0-fers, Sandoval went 1 for 3 with an RBI. He’s hitting .333.
TRAVIS ISHIKAWA: Ishikawa went 0 for 3 with three strikeouts. He’s hitting .250 for the spring, but not a good outing.
ATHLETICS 6, GIANTS 0
MADISON BUMGARNER: Bumgarner had a solid start, 3 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 K. The lone run Bumgarner was unearned as the Giants kicked the ball around, committing four errors on the day.
GIANTS (ss) 7, BREWERS 2
JEFF SUPPAN: Suppan had another outstanding outing, 3 IP, 1 HIT, 0 Ks, 0 BBs. He’s doing what he needs to earn a spot on the roster. One thing to consider: both spring starts came against the Brewers. Let’s see what he can do against another lineup.
BRANDON BELT: Belt went 2 for 4 with 2 RBI, including his first spring HR. The talk continues to be that he’ll open the season in Fresno. How long he remains there will be up to Belt and any need with the big club.
MARK DEROSA: DeRosa continues to have a solid spring, going 1 for 2 with a 2B and 2 RBI.
GIANTS (ss) 5, DODGERS 3
BUSTER POSEY: Posey belted his second spring HR, going 1 for 2.
BARRY ZITO: Just a couple of days after being mixed in controversy stirred by a Chronicle report that his status with the team was on thin ice, Zito had a solid second outing, 3 IP, 1 ER, 2 H, 1 BB, 2 Ks.
Kevin Pucetas continued to make a strong case for a spot in the Giants rotation, while outfielder Andres Torres kept swinging a hot bat in the Giants’ split-squad win over the Seattle Mariners, 8-4.
Tim Lincecum gave up four runs — two earned — in 2 2/3 innings of work in his second spring start as the Giants lost to the Seattle Mariners 6-2.