DENVER -- Bruce Bochy has managed major league players for 18 seasons. When does he know a struggling player needs a day to clear his head?
"Well, when a hitter tells me he's pressing, or I get word that it's probably time to give him a day," Bochy said.
Brandon Belt made that admission after a rough season-opening series at Arizona in which he was 1 for 10 with five strikeouts. So Bochy gave Belt a day off Monday at Colorado.
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But Bochy reiterated that he will not yo-yo Belt in and out of the lineup. The talented first baseman will get every opportunity to settle in, the manager said. And he'll be in the lineup Wednesday, after the entire team takes Tuesday off.
"It's natural for young hitters to want to get off to a good start," Bochy said. "They can lose sight that there's a lot of games in a season. The first few games won't determine what kind of year you'll have."
After the third or fourth question about Belt, Bochy waved his hands.
"You know, we're overstating this a little bit," Bochy said. "He's getting a day, and I want to get a little more speed in the outfield, it's fair to say (Aubrey) Huff is swinging a little better than Brandon, and we haven't won a game. So we're putting the best lineup out there. I think we're getting a little caught up here. There's no panic (with Belt)."
Bochy said he sent a message in his meeting with Belt.
"I told him it's too early to press," Bochy said. "We've just played three games. He admitted it, which is, really, too strong a word. He wanted to contribute."
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As for the fear from fans that the Giants might yank Belt in and out of the lineup, Bochy had an immediate response.
"That's not going to happen," he said. "We're not going to let it happen. ... I don't want these guys to think that way three games into the season. I don't want anybody to put too much pressure on themselves."
Speaking in general terms, Bochy said he is always interested to watch the body language of players when they are struggling.
"How they handle it, that's what separates good players from great ones," Bochy said. "It's how they deal with adversity. That's what you've gotta have in this game."
The Giants made one change from the original lineup, trading corner outfield spots with Melky Cabrera and Gregor Blanco. Cabrera is in left field, with Blanco in right. Angel Pagan is still starting in center. Bochy noted that Barry Zito is a fly ball pitcher and so it was a good day to move Huff from left field to first base.
Bochy agreed with the suggestion that Cabrera will be one guy who should expect to be in the lineup every single day. Cabrera had 706 plate appearances in 155 games for Kansas City last season.
"He takes care of himself," Bochy said. "He's got a great work ethic and he's one of those guys who is so durable. He goes out there every day. You can forget about him. He's one of those guys we're talking about, who doesn't need a break mentally."