EXTRA BAGGS: Pence takes protection racket seriously, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Pence takes protection racket seriously, etc.


SAN DIEGO Hunter Pence reached 100 RBIs for the first timein his career with his three-run home run in the first inning Saturday night,but he wasnt doing handsprings in the clubhouse.

And not just because its bad form to celebrate a milestonefollowing a loss.

Its nice but you cant be too happy, said Pence, pointingout that hes getting tons of RBI chances because cleanup man Buster Posey hasbeen an on-base machine.

With Posey, theyre walking him a lot with runners on base.So its important that I have a good approach. Theres a reason Im gettingthese opportunities. To protect him, thats my job right now.

Everyone knows it: There will be times in the postseasonwhen Posey wont get anything to hit. Thatll be especially true if the Giantsface left-handed pitchers in the playoffs. Posey is hitting .431 against themthis season -- the highest average in the majors.

Yes, thats right. Posey is hitting .431 in 160 at-batsagainst left-handed pitching.

He did more damage Saturday against lefty Eric Stults. Poseywalked and also went 2-for-2 with a pair of singlesto raise his average to .337. He now has a larger lead over the Pirates AndrewMcCutchen, who saw his average fall to .329 despite hitting a walk-off home runagainst the Reds.
MCCUTCHEN WATCH: Slump halted, ground lost

Of course, for now, Melky Cabrera is still listed as theofficial leader with a .346 average. Thatll change after the 162ndgame, when hell no longer have enough plate appearances to qualify.

And in case you were wondering, yes, its theoreticallypossible for Posey to pass Cabreras average. Hell be off on Sunday, soassuming he gets 12 at-bats over the final three games at Dodger Stadium, hedneed nine hits to raise his average to .34586. That would nudge out Cabreras.34565, assuming you add an extra plate appearance to his total -- whichwouldve been the case if MLB and the union hadnt changed the rule atCabreras request.

Posey will get a break Sunday, but Bochy wont rest all hisregulars. For one, he wants to give Tim Lincecum a fighting chance at avoidinga career-worst 16th loss. For another, there are some regulars whowant the chance to continue to hone their swing. That includes Pence, who ishitting just .224 as a Giant but has 43 RBIs in 55 games.

Average is overrated to me, said Bochy, who probably won't trot out that same comment if Posey wins the batting title.

I like damage anddriving in runs," the manager continued. "Thats how you win ballgames. You talk about a guy whosknocked in 100 runs, its a great year and he did it in nice fashion there witha home run today.

If Pence can continue to do damage, that might get Posey afew more pitches to hit. And theres nothing wrong with that.

Aubrey Huff did not have a productive day, and not becausehe had a hitless at-bat off the bench.

Madison Bumgarner struggled in his four innings. And themore the starting pitchers struggle, the more likely itll be that Bochy keepsa 12-man pitching staff. Thatll make it tough to keep someone like Huff, whoessentially requires two roster spots because he needs a pinch runner.

A loyal reader gave me one heck of a news tip. He thought hesaw Brandon Belt and Bumgarner on the off day last Monday, kayaking around thebay near McCovey Cove. Their wives were in a double kayak while the two playerseach paddled solo.

I asked Belt today and he said yes, indeed, it was them. Thewhole thing was Belts idea. Bumgarner went along with it, but forget the swimtrunks and water shoes. He wore his blue jeans and cowboy boots. I only wish Ihad the pictures.

Apparel choices aside, they did the smart thing by ridingsolo. Every kayak guide knows those double-seaters by another name: divorceboats.

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former top prospect Andy Marte dies from car accident in Dominican Republic

Former major leaguer Andy Marte died early Sunday from a traffic accident in his native Dominican Republic.

Metropolitan traffic authorities say Marte died when the Mercedes Benz he was driving hit a house along a road between San Francisco de Macoris and Pimentel, about 95 miles (150 kilometers) north of the capital.

Marte, a 33-year-old infielder, played for several Major League teams, including Atlanta, Cleveland and Arizona, and was most recently playing in the Korean league.

Marte was playing in the Dominican winter league with the Aguilas Cibaenas team.

"We have awoken this Sunday with this sad news that we have lost a special being," club president Winston Llenas said in a statement about Marte.

The Associated Press contributed to this report

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the final month of his time with the Giants, it became clear that Santiago Casilla and the team would part ways. On Friday, Casilla confirmed that he never had the opportunity to return. 

On a conference call to announce a two-year deal with the Oakland A’s, Casilla said he “would have been happy to return to the Giants, but I never got an offer from them. I understood.”

Casilla said he had several opportunities to go elsewhere and close, mentioning the Milwaukee Brewers as one interested team. Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A’s, who likely won’t need him to pitch in the ninth. The Brewers went on to bring in Neftali Feliz for one year and $5.35 million; he is expected to close. 

“I preferred to return to the Athletics because that’s where my career started,” Casilla said through interpreter Manolo Hernández Douen. “And I’m very excited.”

Casilla spent the first six years of his career with the A’s before crossing the bridge and becoming a key figure in three title runs. In seven seasons in San Francisco, he posted a 2.42 ERA and saved 123 games. Casilla had a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, but he was stripped of a prominent role in the weeks leading up to the 2016 playoffs. 

Casilla, 36, blew nine saves before being pulled from the ninth inning. He appeared just three times in the final 14 regular season games and just once in the playoffs. He did not take the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS, watching as five other relievers teamed up to give back a three-run lead. 

That moment stung Casilla, and it affected Bruce Bochy, too. The Giants struck quickly in December to bring Mark Melancon in as their new closer, but at the Winter Meetings, Bochy said he would welcome Casilla back in a setup role. 

“He’s a great team player (and) teammate,” Bochy said. “(I) certainly wouldn’t rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime.”

As it turned out, that opportunity was never there for Casilla. The Giants didn’t make another move after the big deal with Melancon, and they’ll rely on younger arms to record most of the outs in the seventh and eighth. Casilla said he’s not bitter about the way it all ended. 

“I have left that in the past,” he said. “It’s a new year, it’s a new year. I have left this in the past.”