EXTRA BAGGS: Wilson, Hensley tackle the cone zone

698516.jpg

EXTRA BAGGS: Wilson, Hensley tackle the cone zone

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Clay Hensley had a grueling inning Sunday.A couple balls were kicked behind him. He threw a lot of pitches. His heartrate was elevated.

He was prepared for all of it.

Closer Brian Wilson might work out like a maniac, butHensley stays within a whisker of him. In fact, they collaborated along withnew strength and conditioning coach Carl Kochan on a military-style regimenthat is a sight to behold on the field.

Its part boot camp, part Battle of the Network Stars andit involves more cones than the Bay Bridge retrofit.

We both realized we wanted to do more baseball-specificmovements, Hensley told me. I mean, you could go in the gym and try to benchpress a house or something. But that doesnt help you emulate what its like topitch.

The drill involves cone running, backpedaling, crawling onall fours, attaching a parachute to your waist, sprinting back to the startingline, then doing it all over again.

OK, so they arent heaving concrete bricks up a muddy hill,shirtless, while wearing designer jeans. Not everyone can be Andres Torres, youknow.

Ive always been pretty intense in my workouts, but you canonly push yourself so much by yourself, Hensley said. We got on the same pagewith this, and we push each other. You never stop moving. Everything has apurpose.

Even the trench crawl?

Well, yeah, Hensley said with a laugh. If you triphitting the bag around third, you have to get up real quick, right?

--
While their teammates enjoy the only break on the scheduleMonday, Matt Cain and Hector Sanchez will go to work.

Cain will stay on turn and log his pitches in a minor leaguegame against the As Triple-A club at Indian School Park. Sanchez will be hisbatterymate. If youre in the area, those games usually begin at 1 p.m. andthere is a small viewing area with bleachers that is available on a first-come,first-serve basis. Free, of course.

--
Santiago Casilla is having an impressive spring. Hes givenup two hits and walked one batter in six scoreless innings.

Casilla is just as excited about his little brother, Jose,who once ranked as one of the better young relief arms in the system. JoseCasilla had reconstructive elbow surgery in June. Santiago reports that his kidbrother is playing long toss at up to 175 feet and he should get back on amound in a couple of months.

--
Angel Pagan couldnt haul in an over-the-shoulder catch incenter field, and the Padres Jason Bartlett ended up with a triple. I wasntthere to see it, but apparently a similar thing happened to Pagan few daysearlier.

The wind was an issue this time, and itll take time beforea fair evaluation can be made about Pagans ability in center. But from whatIm told by scouts, his defense will be a grade below what we saw from AndresTorres.

--
The backup catcher competition will come down to catchingand throwing. Everyone knows what the pitching staff and Bruce Bochy thinks ofEli Whitesides catching and game-calling skills.

As for the throwing? Even with Whitesides elbow improved,that isnt much of a competition. Chris Stewart simply has one of the quickestreleases Ive ever seen. He snapped out of his crouch and made a lightningquick, accurate throw to Pablo Sandoval to pick a runner off third base.

The backup catcher job wont be decided till the very end,and in terms of pure emotion, its going to be the hardest one for the coachingstaff.

--
It sure was a rainy day in Scottsdale. But no, the Giantsdidnt dip into their fund to sign Cain. Not yet, anyway.

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.”