PHOENIX – Marco Scutaro, Pablo Sandoval and Sergio Romo will return to the Giants within a day or three, after Venezuela and Mexico were eliminated from the World Baseball Classic.
But Ryan Vogelsong will be scoping out a good enchilada place on South Beach. Perhaps with Jeremy Affeldt in tow.
The U.S. advanced with a comeback victory over Canada on Sunday, and so the Americans are off to Miami to compete in a second-round pool that also includes Italy, Puerto Rico and the Dominican Republic.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he watched Vogelsong pitch Team USA to a 6-2 victory over Italy on Saturday and was impressed.
“Very good job,” Bochy said. “He was hitting his spots pretty good there.”
Matt Cain also made a point to watch Vogelsong and said it reminded him of the postseason.
“Typical Vogey, throwing really well in a pressure situation,” Cain said. “It’s awesome for him to get the win. He’s pretty pumped about it..”
Cain noted the international scoring rules played in Vogelsong’s favor, though.
“Not fair,” Cain said. “I wish we could get a win with four innings.”
Bochy wasn’t sure when Scutaro and Sandoval would return; Venezuela already knocked out, played its final game against Spain on Sunday in Puerto Rico. Romo, who never left the Phoenix area while competing in the WBC, is likely to be back in Giants camp on Monday.
Dominican right-hander Santiago Casilla and Tyler La Torre, a minor league catcher who started for Italy on Saturday, also remain alive in the WBC.
Also alive is Giants hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens, who is managing the Netherlands – which must knock out Cuba on Monday in Tokyo to join Japan as one of the four semifinalists to decide the Classic champion at AT&T Park.
If you want to know what Bam Bam thinks of his team's chances, or if you’ve ever wanted to see him look like Lobot from “Star Wars” while wearing a translating device on his head, check this video out.
It’s hard to say when Vogelsong might start again for Team USA. The next round is modified double-elimination. So if the Americans lose their first game Tuesday, they would play the following day. Vogelsong wouldn’t be fully rested to make either of those starts, although it’s typical for pitchers to go one day short in the spring as they build pitch counts.
If Team USA wins its second-round opener Tuesday, it would play again Thursday.
The competition for the Giants’ backup infielder job (alongside Joaquin Arias, who is definitely on the team) hasn’t been too inspiring.
Wilson Valdez has mixed in some nice plays but his overall spring has been unremarkable thus far. Sunday’s game, a 6-1 victory over the Brewers at Maryvale, was a good example. Valdez had the chance to make a jumping catch of a line drive but it ticked off his glove, and later in the game, he came up short on a diving attempt up the middle. He pounded his glove into the dirt, knowing it was a chance to show he can be a playmaker.
Valdez also made a nice play across the middle to secure a slow chopper and throw to first base in time for the out. But it’s a play any capable shortstop should make.
As for Kensuke Tanaka, he put down a terrific bunt for a single and he is having better at-bats. But he doesn’t offer any extra-base power at all, and defensively, his arm looks too short to play anywhere but second base.
So it’ll be interesting when Tony Abreu finally makes his spring debut on Monday. He’s been set back by a quad strain, and while it’s a long spring, you don’t make the club by doing agility drills.
He’ll start at third base and play three innings, with Arias getting some work at second base.
The Giants were very excited to pluck Abreu off waivers and I think entering this spring, he was the guy they hoped would seize a job. There’s still time for him to do that, of course.
But if this competition remains lackluster, I wouldn’t be surprised if the Giants get a little bit curious about Ryan Theriot’s plans.
And don’t count out Brock Bond, either.
The most amazing part of spring training in this post-World Series parade universe is the way Giants fans travel to all the other parks. When Matt Cain took the mound in Maryvale, it was like Third and King. Giants fans had Brewers fans outnumbered 4 to 1, or at least it seemed that way.
Cain pitched three innings, and for the first two, he was overpowering. With mostly fastballs and a few curves, he struck out four and looked to be in season-ready form. The Brewers for to him for a run in the third, and because he logged a few pitches in that inning, he didn’t come back for a fourth.
Turns out Cain had “tummy issue” in the morning because something he ate the previous night didn’t agree with him. But he feels on pace, and given that this was already his fourth outing of the spring, with three weeks still to go, there’s no reason to push anything.
Brett Pill is back from his minor knee inflammation and didn’t look like he was holding back when he tried to score from second base on a single. Pill had one of three doubles in the game. Nick Noonan and Cole Gillespie had the others.
And Jake Dunning, a former shortstop at Indiana (Big Ten baseball!), looked sharp while throwing the first two of six scoreless innings by Giants relievers. Dunning has a nice sinker-slider combination and has a chance to crack the bigs this year.
Speaking of not holding back, Gregor Blanco was involved in a wacky play in which he scored from second base on a wild pitch.
Blanco took a wide turn around third base and went almost halfway home before he slipped, allowing the Brewers to get him in a rundown. Blanco turned back toward home after the third baseman accepted the throw. But then the third baseman’s throw home was off the mark, and Blanco was safe as he slid headfirst into the catcher’s shinguards.
No, sliding headfirst into a catcher is not the best idea on March 10. But Blanco said he was fine.
That wild pitch, by the way, was the third strike on Tanaka. And when the play finally ended, Tanaka had made it all the way around to third base.
Hector Sanchez is catching again. You can bet the Giants will keep an eye on his throwing to see how his shoulder is holding up.
I never like going to Surprise, but I might be able to generate some authentic enthusiasm for Monday. It’ll be Madison Bumgarner against the Rangers’ Yu Darvish.
And perhaps a chance to say hello to old pal A.J. Pierzynski, too.