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.
It was great to see Buster Posey catching again.
It was great to see Buster Posey swinging the bat in a game again.
But we were thinking Wednesday, it would be really great to see Buster Posey get a hit again.
Posey put together three 0-fers in his first three spring training games, and that stretch extended to 0 for 8 in Wednesday’s game against the Indians.
But in his third at-bat Wednesday, Posey drove a Tony Sipp fastball the opposite way over the right-field wall for his first spring hit — a home run.
“I thought I hit it pretty good,” Posey said. “I’m just glad I hit it hard. That’s the goal every time.”
It was another good sign on Posey’s road to recovery.
There have been some talking heads who have doubting whether Posey will be fully recovered by opening day.
Posey is not one of them.
“I think I’ve been lucky as far as not having any setbacks,” he said. “I don’t know if I need to knock on wood or what. But I think we’ve got a game plan the rest of the way through. I’ll be ready on April 6.”
The now is for Posey to take Thursday off and catch again on Friday. He hopes to catch six innings in a game next week.
And as far as knocking on wood? Yes, Buster, you do need to knock on wood. Base knocks. Keep ’em coming.
- Gregor Blanco continues to give the Giants reason to think. He went 1 for 3 with a walk. Blanco drew a walk to open the game (a rarity for the Giants in 2011). He was moving on Melky Cabrera’s grounder to first. When Cabrera was thrown out with the pitcher covering first, Blanco scooted all the way to third base. That allowed him to score on Pablo Sandoval’s ground out. Manager Bruce Bochy said the decision to keep Blanco on the 25-man roster will likely go right down to the wire. “He’s certainly intriguing, isn’t he?” Bochy said.
- Matt Cain gave up two runs on five hits and walk in 3 2/3 innings. He struck out four. One run allowed scored on an inning-ending double play when Asdrubel Cabrera came across the plate before the Giants could complete a tag-out double play in the first. The other run scored when Mitch Lively came into relieve Cain in the fourth and allowed an inherited runner to score from third on a wild pitch.
- Relievers Brian Wilson, Javier Lopez, Clay Hensley and Dan Otero each recorded 1-2-3 innings.
- Not sure if it’s a cause of concern, but the Giants’ bats have gone a little cold in recent days. They were limited to four singles andPosey’s home run on Wednesday. They also struck out eight times with only one walk — the walk to Blanco to open the game. But this early in spring, hitters prefer to swing the bat than take pitches. For example, the Indians struck out 14 times with just one walk.
Barry Zito takes the mound at the Giants face the Mariners in a 7:05 p.m. at Peoria. The game will be televised live on the MLB Network.
It’s March Madness time, and everyone is busy filling out NCAA Tournament brackets (well, except MoreSplashHits. We need to get busy on that).
But it did get us thinking. What would Giants spring training look like if we set the players in camp up into a March Madness-styled bracket.
So we based these seedings on the probability of each player in camp this spring making a significant contribution to the success of the Giants in 2012.
And this is what we came up with. Debate at will.
(1) P Tim Lincecum vs. (16) P Danny Otero
(8) P Heath Hembree vs. (9) OF Francisco Peguero
(4) OF Nate Schierholtz vs. (13) OF Tyler Graham
(5) 2B Freddy Sanchez vs. (12) SS Ehire Adrianza
(6) C Eli Whiteside vs. (11) 3B Chris Dominguez
(3) OF Melky Cabrera vs. (14) C Jackson Williams
(7) P Barry Zito vs. (10) 3B Conor Gillaspie
(2) P Ryan Vogelsong vs. (15) IF Joaquin Arias
(1) P Matt Cain vs. (16) P Shane Loux
(8) C Chris Stewart vs. (9) C Hector Sanchez
(4) P Santiago Casilla vs. (13) OF Jarrett Parker
(5) SS Brandon Crawford vs. (12) OF Justin Christian
(6) IF-OF Emmanuel Burriss vs. (11) C Andrew Sugac
(3) 1B Aubrey Huff vs. (14) IF Nick Noonan
(7) P Clay Hensley vs. (10) P Hector Correia
(2) P Sergio Romo vs. (15) OF Juan Perez
(1) P Brian Wilson vs. (16) P Matt Yourkin
(8) OF Gary Brown vs. (9) SS Joe Panik
(4) 1B Brandon Belt vs. (13) OF Roger Kieschnik
(5) P Guillermo Mota vs. (12) P Andrew Kown
(6) IF Ryan Theriot vs. (11) P Brian Burres
(3) P Javier Lopez vs. (14) P Seth Rosin
(7) OF Gregor Blanco vs. (10) C Tommy Joseph
(2) C Buster Posey vs. (15) P Stephen Harold
(1) 3B Pablo Sandoval vs. (16) P Jake Dunning
(8) P Eric Surkamp vs. (9) P Steve Edlefsen
(4) P Jeremy Affeldt vs. (13) P Dan Otero
(5) 1B Brett Pill vs. (12) P Wilmin Rodriguez
(6) IF Mike Fonteno vs. (11) P Ramon Ortiz
(3) OF Angel Pagan vs. (14) P Justin Fitzgerald
(7) P Dan Runzler vs. (10) 2B Charlie Culberson
(2) P Madison Bumgarner vs. (15) P David Quinowski
Hey, aren’t you Angel Pagan?
With all the talk this spring circulating around Melky Cabrera’s hot bat, the return of Buster Posey, Freddy Sanchez, Brian Wilson, and Tim Lincecum’s shaky early starts, we’ve sort of forgotten about the other new addition in the outfield.And that’s Angel Pagan.
Maybe we haven’t talked a lot about Pagan because there wasn’t much to talk about.
He came into Tuesday’s game hitting .227 (5 for 22). And it didn’t get much better when he made out in his first two at-bats Tuesday.
But then connected on a gapper to left for a triple and later added a double, lifting his spring average to .269. He also made a couple of nice grabs in the outfield.
“I like it,” Pagan said of all his running. “That’s the way it’s going to be in the season.”
Well, let’s hope so.
In the meantime, Pagan won’t be able to build off his success Tuesday in the next couple of days. He’s getting a wisdom tooth removed Wednesday.
- Madison Bumgarner gave up three runs on seven hits in four innings. He said he was experimenting with a new slider grip with mixed results. He did strike out four and walked none. Manager Bruce Bochy said he was wild in the strike zone.
- Buster Posey caught four more innings and reported no problems. The plan is to get him stretched out to six innings in a game next week. For now, he’ll work on his batting stroke. He went 0 for 2 Tuesday, making him 0 for 5 for the spring. But no strikeouts. He’ll play DH on Wednesday.
- Mike Fontenot, who had been nursing a groin injury, got into the game and got a double, walk, RBI and run in two plate appearances.
Matt Cain takes the hill as the Giants face the Indians in Scottsdale at 1:05 p.m.
The demise of Freddy Sanchez was apparently exaggerated
When Sanchez made his spring debut as a DH last Friday, we heard that he could make his debut in the field on Monday.
Then Bruce Bochy corrected himself, saying it would not be until at least Wednesday.
Then Cal Steward of the San Jose Mercury News wrote Sunday that it might not come until Friday, and even that was in doubt.
It made some wonder if Sanchez might not be ready to open the season.
But then Monday came, and there was Sanchez in the field before Monday’s game against the Royals taking groundballs.
Sanchez took groundballs and flipped the ball toward second base, simulating the start of a double play. Then he started to take tosses from shortstop Brandon Crawford and completed the turn with a throw to first base.
“He’s turning it up a notch and getting ready to go out there and play,” Bochy said.
Bochy said the hopes are that Sanchez will make his first defensive start on Thursday.
Ryan Vogelsong: The pitcher threw 35 bullpen pitches on Sunday, and will throw another 45 on Wednesday as he makes progress after suffering a sore back to open camp. But with the starters now on their third round of spring starts, time is working against Vogelsong. However, Bochy did mention that the Giants don’t need a No. 5 starter until April 15 (which is what MoreSplashHits has been saying all along).
Buster Posey: Posey will catch four innings on Tuesday, then play DH on Wednesday.
Brian Wilson: After his nine-pitch debut Sunday, The Beard will pitch another inning Wednesday.
ROSTER CUT DOWN
After Monday’s game with the Royals, pitchers Seth Rosin, Shawn Sanford, catcher Andrew Sugac and infielder Joe Panik were reassigned to minor league camp. Also IF Ehire Adranza was optioned to Triple-A. Earlier, OF Francisco Peguero was optioned to Triple-A and C Tommy Joseph and pitchers Stephen Harold, Jake Dunning, Austin Fleet and David Quinowski were assigned to minor league camp.
Well, that’s more like it.
Tim Lincecum made it a full trip through through the rotation with solid starts. Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and now Lincecum pitched at least three innings with no earned runs.
Lincecum cut his spring ERA in half by pitching four innings, giving up one unearned run on one hit and one walk with four strikeouts.
Heck, even Eric Surkamp, who would be the fill in for Ryan Vogelsong if he’s unable to go, gave up only one run in three innings.
“A lot better than last outing,” Lincecum said. “The fact that I doubled my innings helps and my arm still feels good, my body feels good, and I still kept my mechanics so I’m just trying to take that as a positive and run with it.”
Lincecum threw 37 of his 58 pitches for strikes. The lone run he allowed came when Jarrod Dyson got an infield hit that deflected off Lincecum’s foot. Dyson then stole second and took third when Eli Whiteside’s throw went into center. Dyson then scored on a groundout.
- OF Gregor Blanco continued to keep pressure on Giants brass by going 3 for 3 with a walk and his sixth stolen base of the spring. He’s hitting .545.
- Freddy Sanchez started again at DH, going 0 for 3 with a walk.
- 1B Brett Pill went 2 for 4 with a double.
- 3B Conor Gillaspie belted a solo home run in the second.
Madison Bumgarner gets the start as the Giants play the Cubs in Scottsdale at 1:05 p.m. Buster Posey is scheduled to catch four more innings.
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.