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.

Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House


Obama celebrates World Series champion Chicago Cubs at White House

WASHINGTON — President Barack Obama celebrated the World Series champion Chicago Cubs on Monday and spoke about the power sports has to unite people.

"Throughout our history, sports has had this power to bring us together even when the country is divided,"Obama said at a White House ceremony for his hometown team. "Sports has changed attitudes and culture in ways that seem subtle but that ultimately made us think differently about ourselves."

"It is a game and celebration," he said, and noted that "there's a direct line between Jackie Robinson and me standing here." Robinson, a second baseman for the Brooklyn Dodgers, broke Major League Baseball's color line to become its first black player.

The White House event came four days before Obama hands the presidency over to Donald Trump following one of the most divisive elections in recent memory.

It also follows a weekend in which civil rights icon John Lewis said he didn't consider Trump a legitimate president because of Russian meddling in the election. Trump responded on Twitter by criticizing Lewis as "all talk" and suggesting the Democratic congressman take better care of his Georgia district.

Obama has a home in Chicago, but is a longtime White Sox fan. He rooted for the Cubs after the Sox failed to reach the playoffs.

His wife, first lady Michelle Obama, however, is a lifelong Cubs fan. She greeted Cubs players before the ceremony, which Obama noted was her first appearance at some of the roughly 50 events he has hosted for championship college and professional sports teams.

The Cubs gave Obama two baseball jerseys — home and away — with the number 44, among other gifts. Cubs first baseman Anthony Rizzo also wears the number, and Obama referred to Rizzo as "my fellow 44."Obama is the nation's 44th president.

Obama said it will be hard for him to wear the jersey, but told the Cubs: "Do know that among Sox fans I am the Cubs' No. 1 fan."

Hours after the Cubs won the series in November, Obama asked the team on Twitter if it wanted to visit the White House before his term ends Friday.

The World Series title was the first for the Cubs since 1908, and they won it by defeating the Cleveland Indians in seven games.

Giants avoid arbitration with Nunez, Smith, Kontos

Giants avoid arbitration with Nunez, Smith, Kontos

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants avoided arbitration with three more veterans on Friday, agreeing to one-year deals with third baseman Eduardo Nuñez, left-hander Will Smith and right-hander George Kontos.

Financial details were not immediately available. MLB Trade Rumors' projections put Nuñez at about $4.4 million, Smith at about $2.3 million, and Kontos at about $1.7 million. The Giants reached deals with all six arbitration eligible players this offseason. 

Nunez, acquired last summer, will enter camp as the starter at third base. He posted a .269/.327/.418 slash line and 12 stolen bases after coming over from the Twins.

Smith was also acquired before the trade deadline, and he had a 2.95 ERA in 26 appearances for the Giants. He is expected to play a pivotal role in setting up for new closer Mark Melancon. 

Kontos has long been Bruce Bochy's most reliable reliever in the middle innings and he could move to a higher-leverage role in a revamped bullpen. He had a 2.53 ERA in 2016, his fifth season with the Giants.

The Giants had previously reached one-year deals with Cory Gearrin, Ehire Adrianza and Conor Gillaspie. They have not gone to an arbitration hearing since 2004, when a deal could not be reached with A.J. Pierzynski.