Belt makes a statement in spring debut

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Belt makes a statement in spring debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Manager Bruce Bochy cant stroll througha mall without being approached by Giants fans. And all of them seem to bemembers of the Brandon Belt fan club.
After the hellos and platitudes, they often sneak in a Hey,play the kid, will ya?"So when Beltwent 3 for 4 with a home run while serving as the designated hitter in Saturdays Cactus League opener, Bochycouldnt resist the urge to have a little fun.Boy, Belts been locked in, hasnt he? the manager said, grinning.All kidding aside, Bochy acknowledges that Belt presents the Giants toughest callof the spring. Their roster, already stuffed with lefty bats, actually fitstogether easier if he starts the season in Triple-A Fresno. It means AubreyHuff would play first base instead of left field, where hed be a questionmark.

But if Belt convinces the front office and coaching staffthat he is ready to be an impact performer against major league pitching,theyll have to pay their respects to that. Like all those Giants fans he meets, Bochy wants to put his best team on the field, too.
Right now, Bochy cant say whether the Giants will be abetter team on opening day with Belt or without him. Thats what they hope tofind out in the next four weeks.Hes a good player. We know that, Bochy said. Well betalking about Brandon Belt quite a bit, what he can bring. Hes a guy who willprobably be decided in the last part of the spring.Belt had three of the Giants nine hits in a 9-6 loss toArizona. He tomahawked a single in the first inning off Arizonas JoshCollmenter. He singled to right in the sixth against Ryan Budde. Then hepounded his homer over the right field fence off Yonata Ortega in the ninth.(It wouldve been off the bricks at AT&T Park, though.)Bochy liked the fact that Belt was aggressive early in thecount. He took a healthy cut at the first pitch he saw from Collmenter,swinging through it.Hes swinging well, Bochy said. Last spring, he swung thebat well. He came in ready to go.We want these guys to let it go when they get a pitch tohit, but lay off the tough pitches, too. The thing about Brandon, he knows whathe needs to work on. But when he gets a good pitch, hey, let it go.Thats what Belt tried to do in the Dominican winter leagueand thats what he plans to carry over.Id rather be overaggressive and have to back off than bepassive and have to dial it up, he said. Once you figure that stuff out, itdoesnt leave you. For the most part, you remember it.Belt remembers everything coming far too easily in 2010,when he hit .352 with a 1.075 OPS while zooming from Single-A San Jose toDouble-A Richmond to Triple-A Fresno.But he made a fairly stunning admission about hisseason-long hot streak that burst him into the elite prospects rankings.In 2010, even when I was hitting well, I didnt have anyidea what I was doing, he said. I was just hitting.He never had to dig his way out of a slump. So when thathappened at various junctures in the big leagues last season, he didnt havethe experience to know what to do.I dont think I took the time to figure out what was goingon, he said. It was all so fast. I didnt take the time to regroup.He said he did some of that thinking in the 10 days betweenthe end of last season and his first game for Escogido in the Dominican.Asked if he would rather be a bench player in the bigleagues or a starter at Triple-A, Belt made another surprising comment. He saidhed rather play.Thats a tough decision, he said. We all want to be in thebig leagues. But my main goal is to play every day. If I have to start inFresno, thats what Ill do. Then my goal will be to produce enough to get backup here.

Notes: Ex-Giants not getting much traction, not expected to return

Notes: Ex-Giants not getting much traction, not expected to return

SOMEWHERE IN THE AIR, United States — On the first day of the Winter Meetings, I discovered that my hotel room for the week was a few doors down from a section of rooms and suites dedicated to the Chicago Cubs. So either I have a lot of juice with Marriott or the Cubs have very little juice. 

They were a happy group as they came in and out, and for good reason. The Cubs are the reigning champions and they’re the heavy favorites going into 2017. Every other team at the Gaylord National Resort was chasing Theo Epstein and his guys. The Giants, after landing closer Mark Melancon, feel they have the firepower to compete with the Cubs. 

The Melancon move is the big one of the Giants’ offseason and it obscured just about everything else. Here are some other notes, quotes and rumors from five days at the Winter Meetings: 

--- Bobby Evans said the Aroldis Chapman deal ($86 million) came in right around where the Giants expected. The two sides never met in person, and while the Giants kept tabs on the Chapman market, he was always viewed as an unlikely choice. Part of that has to do with a 30-game suspension last season for a domestic violence incident. Evans said the off-field stuff was “not lost on us.” The Giants knew many of their fans were strongly opposed to a Chapman deal. 

“Our hearts and minds were really focused on one guy,” Evans said as he discussed the closer market. It was Melancon, and the Giants got the guy who will now head a bullpen that blew 30 saves during the regular season. 

Evans took some good-natured shots at that number, by the way. He pointed out that many of those “blown saves” came in the sixth or seventh innings and the Giants won a lot of those games. The more important number for the front office was ninth-inning blown saves that led to losses. The Giants lost nine such games, including five in September. 

“That’s the difference,” Evans said. “If you reduce that number to five or four, then that’s maybe the difference in your division.”

The Giants finished four games behind the Dodgers.

--- Joe Maddon said his biggest fear in the postseason was facing Johnny Cueto in Game 5.

--- Angel Pagan was not at the ballpark for the final game of the season. He had an injection in his injured back and was allowed to stay home to try and recover. The Giants told Pagan to prepare for a Game 5, but some team officials believe his postseason was probably over regardless of how far the Giants got. 

--- It was a little surprising, by the way, how little mention there was of Pagan and other Giants free agents. Pagan was briefly connected to the Orioles at one point but otherwise his name has not come up. There are no Gregor Blanco rumors, and nothing significant with Sergio Romo, Jake Peavy, Javier Lopez or Santiago Casilla. 

Giants people who have talked to Romo say he has at least a couple of offers and he’s confident he’ll find a good fit. Lopez is said to be headed for retirement unless an East Coast team (he lives in Georgia) makes a great offer. Peavy is said to be ready to fight for a job as a non-roster invitee in spring training. It seems the majority of the ex-Giants might have to go the non-roster route. Currently, none are expected to return to San Francisco. 

--- Gordon Beckham is technically a “Giants free agent” and several people in the clubhouse approacedh management to relay what a positive impact Beckham had in his week there. He is the kind of energetic, ball-busting presence that helps over a 162-game season, and everyone in the organization loved having him around, but they’re looking for power bats right now when it comes to the bench. 

--- Ramiro Pena is close to a deal to return as a non-roster invitee. The Giants will also add a catcher for Triple-A depth. They’re selecting from a group that includes former Dodgers and Cubs catcher Tim Federowicz. 

--- There will be new managers up and down the minor league system. The affiliates are expected to announce those choices soon. 

--- At the risk of wiping out a bunch of future "The Player to be Named Later has not been named" tweets, here's how it works: The Giants gave the Mariners a small list of prospects they'll watch in spring training, and they'll scout them and choose one player as the return for Chris Heston. It will not be a significant prospect. 

--- Under Armour will be the exclusive uniform provider of MLB starting in 2020, and all jerseys will have a small Under Armour logo on the chest. No exceptions, from the awful Diamondbacks jerseys to the Yankees pinstripes to the Giants. It was bound to happen eventually. The Giants have some of Under Armour’s most prominent baseball players, including Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Joe Panik. 

--- The Giants never had any intention of pursuing a reunion with Pablo Sandoval. If they can add depth at third, they will, but for now Eduardo Nuñez is slated to be the opening day starter. Keep in mind, too, that Christian Arroyo will primarily play third base in the minors from now on. 

--- Bill Hayes, who was relieved of his duties as first-base coach, will stay with the big league staff. His exact role has not been determined. Roberto Kelly will not return in a different role. 

--- CSN did a bunch of one-on-one interviews this week, and two of them — Evans and Bruce Bochy — are available here as podcasts. If you’re a fan of the podcast, please consider hitting subscribe on iTunes. It’s good for the pod. 

--- In case you missed it: Here's an explanation of why the Giants are unlikely to add an expensive outfielder. The Giants currently have four players set for the WBC. Hensley Meulens will manage the Netherlands. Ryan Vogelsong helped Melancon choose the Giants. Bochy on if he has any postseason regrets. 

--- Melancon will be introduced at a 1 p.m. press conference on Friday. It will air on CSN Bay Area and you can stream it on this website. 
 

Wife of former Giants outfielder Andres Torres passes away

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Twitter/BengieMolina1

Wife of former Giants outfielder Andres Torres passes away

Former Giants outfielder Andres Torres lost his wife on Wednesday evening.

Soannie Torres passed away from cancer.

Andres played for the Giants from 2009 to 2011 and again in 2013.

During the Giants' World Series run in 2010, he hit .268 with 16 home runs and 63 RBI over 139 regular season games.

In the World Series against the Rangers, he batted .318 and hit a home run.

Torres was the 2010 winner of the Willie Mac Award, -- given annually to the Giants' most inspirational player.

To donate to the Soannie Torres Memorial Fund, click here.