EXTRA BAGGS: Pagan can't buy a break


EXTRA BAGGS: Pagan can't buy a break

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. You have to believe no player wantsspring training to end more than Angel Pagan.

He had a nice little 0-for-24 streak going before he finallylined a double in the eighth inning Tuesday. He had to be the most relieved manin Maricopa County.

One pitch later, Pagan got picked off second base.

Unfortunately, he hasnt been on a lot, said Bruce Bochy,and the Giants' skipper wasnt trying to crack a joke.

Pagan batted one more time in the ninth after the Giantsmounted a rally and got the tying runs on base. He struck out looking.

A day earlier, the crowd went home buzzing after PabloSandovals walk-off homer. This time, the fans let out a loud groan.

The question was put to Bochy, and it was fair to ask: IsPagan still the opening-day center fielder and leadoff man?

Im not going to announce the lineup now, Bochy said, abit testily. In eight or nine days he could get hot and someone else could gocold. Nows not the time you write the lineup.

Now, we have a pretty good idea. But if theres anyquestion of where were going, if theres any tweaking, well give it the restof camp (to sort out).

Its hard to imagine the Giants pulling the plug on Paganthis early. But no question, they are concerned. For the second time in fivedays, he will go to minor league camp to feast on at-bats.

I see him battling himself a little, to be honest, Bochysaid. It is spring training and hes got to remember that. Weve got sometime to get guys locked in here, but as a group, were not swinging the batsfor the last five days now. We may cut back on (cage work).

The Giants have an alternative in Gregor Blanco, who ishitting .356 with a .424 on-base percentage. He also stole two more basesTuesday and leads the majors with 11. Hes been caught once.

What about Blanco? Could he start on opening day?

I cant answer that, said Bochy, adding, Hes made a lotof noise.

This is the time when Bochy experiments with lineups, so itwas interesting to see Blanco in the No.2 spot behind Pagan. Id imagine thatspot would belong to Melky Cabrera on most days; Cabrera was getting a routineday of rest.

Bochy also gave the middle of the lineup a new wrinkle,batting Buster Posey third and Pablo Sandoval fourth. The Giants were facing aleft-handed starter so perhaps Posey will move up a spot against southpaws.

Sandoval hasnt looked great from the right side most ofthis spring. Hes been out in front of everything. While I dont think theGiants would consider any kind of platoon, its worth pointing out that BrettPill has looked serviceable while taking grounders at third base this spring.If Pill is on the roster, the Giants probably cant hope to give him an occasional start atfirst base especially with Posey getting a game or two a week to rest hislegs.

But third base could be a place to give Pill an occasionalstart against a left-handed pitcher, and to keep Sandoval fresh.

Nate Schierholtz was given a day off, but he asked to go tominor league camp to get extra at-bats. He said he was 1 for 6 but felt he sawthe ball better.

Schierholtz is trying to hold onto the everyday right fieldjob, but hes hitting .217 this spring and has battled hip and forearm issues.

Right-hander Dan Otero is going to make his big league debut at somepoint this season, and maybe soon. Mark it down.

He allowed a double to Albert Pujols leading off the sixthinning, but stranded him by calmly retiring Vernon Wells, Bobby Abreu and Mark Trumbo (foul pop,ground out, fly out).

Otero has a 1.12 ERA in eight appearances and hasnt walkeda batter. If theres one kind of reliever that Bochy likes, its a strikethrower.

Ryan Theriot is wearing sunglasses at night. He has a niceshiner after getting hit in the face by a deflected ball on Monday, but hisnose returned to a normal size and hes otherwise fine.

Trade talk is minimal, Im told. Its still very possiblethat Theriot, Mike Fontenot and Emmanuel Burriss all make the roster. JoaquinArias is a longer shot, but dont count him out, either.

Also very little to report on the Matt Cain contract front.I do expect the gulf will narrow in the next few days. Will it narrow enough toget a deal done? Well have to wait and see.

Tim Lincecum, when asked for his perspective on springtraining as a veteran player: Im a veteran?

Former Giant Aaron Rowand signed a minor league deal withthe Miami Marlins in part because it was a chance to play for Ozzie Guillen,his former manager with the White Sox.

Now Guillen is in a very, very awkward spot.

Rowand is 6-45 (.133) this spring with one double and nohome runs. And Guillen might have to deliver bad news to a friend.

Folks have asked the question so often that Ill repeat theanswer: The Giants are on the hook for all of Rowands 12 million salary this season,minus only the major league minimum of 480,000 if he is on the Marlins roster. Either way, Miamis decision on Rowand wont have a major fiscal impact on the Giants.

Scottsdale Stadium fell eerily quiet during the ninthinning, when hard-throwing Santiago Casilla threw a pitch that broke JorgeCantus bat. The barrel shard flew into the stands above the third-base dugoutand struck a female fan. Two gentlemen nearby immediately took off their shirts to applypressure to her head, which was bleeding.

I have never seen this before, but the entire ballparkstopped. The Angels players all stood on the dugout top step and gazed with obvious concern.Casilla stood on the mound, clearly not ready to continue. Cantu made it clear he wasnt about to step back in the box, either. After a delay of maybe five minutes that felt more like 15, thewoman 50-year-old Kathleen Dunnivan of Bethesda, Md. got to her feet andwalked with assistance of EMTs to a stretcher. The crowd applauded her and theGiants said the report from the hospital (conveniently located next door) was that she was OK.

Later on, Giants PR man Jim Moorehead asked to borrow mypen. I found out later that he used it to have players autograph a baseball forher. Classy move.

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

Evans: Giants want to give Parker, Williamson chance to play, but...

While the Giants aggressively pursue a new closer, they haven't been aggressive for a new left fielder.

Angel Pagan is a free agent and isn't likely to come back. That leaves talented, but unproven youngsters Mac Williams and Jarrett Parker.

And for GM Bobby Evans, who is always looking for ways to improve the roster, it appears he is content going into the 2017 with Williamson and Parker filling the void in left field.

"Our mindset has been to keep an open mind in any way we can improve the club offensively. But that said, I feel like we've got a starting lineup today that we don't have to adjust or improve upon. I'd always like to find ways to improve it. I think there are some big market options, but we've got two young guys that we want to get a good evaluation on, and you can't really do that until they get major league at-bats. That's Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker and both of them are really in-waiting for an opportunity to get everyday playing time and show what they can do," Evans told ESPN's Buster Olney on Friday.

But Evans is keeping an open mind regarding acquiring a left fielder.

"That said, I also have to make sure that if we have an opportunity to improve or solidify our lineup in some way, I want to take advantage of it. But I can't lose sight of the benefit of developing our own guys and giving them a chance and not locking ourselves into keeping them from playing time in the next two to three years" Evans said.

Evans: Giants still in 'search mode' for closer, but 'it's progressing'

Evans: Giants still in 'search mode' for closer, but 'it's progressing'

As the Winter Meetings get set to begin in Washington, D.C. on Monday, the Giants still haven't crossed off the top item on their offseason wish list.

The closer role remains vacant.

Names like Mark Melancon and Greg Holland have been linked to the Giants over the last few weeks, but nothing has materialized.

On Friday, GM Bobby Evans provided an update while speaking with ESPN's Buster Olney.

"There's been a lot of signings and a number of trades. In many ways, more done prior to the winter meetings than in the last couple of years. We still are in process, relative to trade options, relative to free agent options, to be clear who's pitching the ninth inning for us. So we feel we have the makings of a good bullpen, we just need to be clear who's pitching the ninth. And we'd like to solidify that through the trade market or free agent market. It's progressing. We're a month into this process, so we have a lot more information. But ultimately, until we have a closer, we're still in the search mode.

There's a nice balance between both. It's just that, they both have costs. Relative to a trade, sometimes you're giving up, in some cases, one or more of your top prospects and other prospects below that. In the way of free agency, it's obviously an expenditure for a certain number of years that is elavated more on the supply and demand side. That said, there are some middle tier late inning options as well that may not be as demanding as some of the bigger names. Again, it's a balance of options trying to measure all three."