EXTRA BAGGS: Wilson, Hensley tackle the cone zone

March 19, 2012, 3:59 am
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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?

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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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

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

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