Bochy opines on Belt's power, Sandoval's weight

September 2, 2012, 5:18 pm
Share This Post

CHICAGO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he only had one real choice to make in Sunday's lineup, and that was whether to play Brandon Belt or Brett Pill at first base.

Belt was hitting left-handers very well earlier in the season, but his splits have gone back to what you might expect: .280 vs. right-handers and .232 vs. lefties.

So Pill, who has been playing every day at Triple-A Fresno, gets a shot.

One other oddity remains from Belt's splits: He has four home runs in 95 at-bats against lefties, and zero in 232 at-bats against right-handers.

Yep. Belt hasn't hit a home run off a right-hander all season. Bochy said he isn't fretting over that. He's pleased with the progress Belt has made, especially making more consistent contact. He also said he wouldn't recommend that Belt return to the Dominican winter league, and that a rest would probably benefit him more than anything.

"Without question, the progress has been pretty good with Brandon," Bochy said. "The contact, the swings and misses he had earlier in the season, he's made some adjustments which have helped him. His confidence has grown, too. Like all young players, it's the normal growth you see. He's turning on balls better but he's still using left field."

Does Bochy envision Belt hitting more home runs next year?

"I do think that's going to happen," the manager said. "He's shown more power, not with home runs, but he's driving the ball better. In batting practice, he's getting through the ball better. And he's strong. Yeah, I think with the adjustments he's made, it'll help him from the power side."

Bochy is keenly aware that the Giants haven't received a home run from a corner infielder since July 8. That's when Pablo Sandoval hit his last one.

And then you've got second base, where the Giants have received one homer all season. Their pitchers have hit two, by the way.

As a team, their 81 home runs are the fewest in the major leagues.

"It's really pretty amazing that we're putting runs on the board without the power," Bochy said. "Power really helps you when you get behind. But we got some timely hits (Saturday) and we got a bases-clearing double. That's been working for us."

It would help to get Sandoval's home run stroke going. He's on a pretty good power outage in his own right -- 104 at-bats -- and Bochy said the time the Panda has missed on the disabled list has messed with his timing. He's still out in front too often.

Then came the burning question: Is Sandoval too heavy?

"That's a good question," Bochy said. "It's an ongoing issue, obviously, and something he's been battling. He showed last year he's a different hitter when his weight is down."

Sandoval often rides an exercise bike after games while his teammates are attacking the spread. He hasn't gained weight in recent weeks.

"We're maintaining it," Bochy said. "We're happy with that. I won't lie, we'd like to get him down a little bit, get him back on the program he had two years ago."

Sandoval worked with trainers at Triple Threat Performance in Arizona last offseason, but it lacked the intensity of the previous winter. Bochy said no plans have been made for Sandoval yet this coming winter, but all parties are well aware that work needs to be done.

We've got a 40 percent chance of rain near the first pitch. Delays would be unwelcome, especially with the Giants playing a Labor Day matinee at AT&T Park on Monday. But overcast skies seem fairly bright as of this writing. So hold a good thought.

Odd fact: This is Matt Cain's fourth consecutive start on the road.

The lineup: CF Pagan, 2BScutaro, 3B Sandoval, C Posey, RF Pence, SS Arias, LF Nady, 1B Pill, P Cain.