EXTRAS: Posey's baserunning still a concern


EXTRAS: Posey's baserunning still a concern

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he was encouraged after watching Buster Posey slide on a pad and push his ankle a little harder as he ran along the cut of the infield grass Monday.

But Bochy acknowledged that Posey still has some major mental hurdles to clear, and running the actual bases is one of them.

"I thought overall, he loosened up," Bochy said. "He was running better there. That's going to be a confidence factor. Once he does it and realizes, Hey, I'm OK,' he'll be fine."

Posey could start running the bases on Tuesday, Bochy said. He'll need to feel comfortable with that before he plays in an exhibition game -- something that could happen as early as Friday.

As for the sliding?

"It was easy," Bochy said.

After gas-leak evacuations and swarms of bees the first two days of Cactus League play, Monday night's game went off without any strangeness. (Unless you count Travis Ishikawa hitting a home run against his former team.)

Bochy turned to hitting coach Hensley Meulens late in the game and wondered why that flock of bats hadn't arrived.

"We used them all up yesterday, huh?" Bochy said.

The Giants like what they see in Gregor Blanco. The MVP of the Venezuelan winter league, Blanco was 1 for 2 with a walk and a pair of stolen bases Monday night. Bochy even tried to use his shiny new weapon to score on a squeeze play, but catcher Chris Stewart fouled off his bunt attempt.

It's hard to say any non-roster player could make the kind of impact that Andres Torres did in 2010. But there are some parallels. Blanco certainly will get a long look this spring, and Bochy plans to put him in motion.

After Blanco, the second hottest hitter in Venezuela this winter was Hector Sanchez. he nearly won the league's batting title and said he's feeling especially good from the left side.

It showed Sunday, when he strode to the plate after the 41-minute bee-swarm delay.

"First pitch, whack!" Angel Pagan said. "I said, This guy must be locked in.'"

Nerves, thy name is a 48-foot David Quinowski breaking ball.

Speaking of nerves, I'm happy to report that I survived my dugout interview with Kruk and Kuip during Monday's game. Nobody was happier than me that it was a brisk, 1-2-3 inning.

It's strange. I've covered baseball for 15 years and that was my first time in a dugout during an actual game (or exhibition, in this case). It was pretty neat to be so close to first base when Aubrey Huff made a nice shorthand pickup and Matt Cain narrowly avoided colliding with the baserunner. It was a glimpse, for me, of how fast the game really gets.

Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League


Giants catching prospect Garcia relishing reps in Arizona Fall League

After being selected in the second round of the 2014 MLB Draft by the San Francisco Giants, catcher Aramis Garcia quickly opened eyes with his power. Garcia totaled 15 home runs between Rookie Ball and Short Season Single-A in only 28 games after the draft. 

The next year, Garcia equaled his 15 long balls and spent the majority of his first full pro season at High Single-A. He also improved overall as a hitter, raising his 2014 slash line of .225/.301/.343 to .264/.342/.431 in 2015. The next climb up the farm system ladder was set in place, until it was gone with an excruciating injury. 

Garcia's 2016 season was limited to 47 games played as he sustained a facial fracture in May while sliding into second base. In an attempt to break up a double play, Garcia took a knee to the face. The injury kept him out until the end of July.

When the chance to play in the Arizona Fall League for the Scottsdale Scorpions arose, Garcia jumped at the opportunity. 

"First thing I did was call my parents and let them know," Garcia told MLB.com on Monday. "I was just really excited for getting the opportunity to play against guys who are extremely talented and obviously make up for reps, which are extremely important."

Garcia never did exactly find his rhythm after the injury and finished the season batting .257/.323/.340 with two homers in 41 games. In the first half, the 23-year-old hit .298/.359/.369 compared to a lowly .200/.273/.300 in the second half. 

The catcher known more for his offense than defense, is off to a slow start at the plate while facing some of the top prospects in baseball. Throuh six games, he has gone 3-for-17 at the plate, good for a .176 average. But, Garcia acknowledged he's focusing heavily on his defense in the AFL. 

"I feel like when somebody tries to steal on me, I tend to take it a little bit personally," he said. "It's definitely something I take pride in, something I work on hard every day. There's a little routine I do with receiving and footwork, things like that every day."

Behind the dish, Garcia caught 38 percent of base runners looking to swipe a bag on him last season. Through his three years in the minors, Garcia has erased 34 percent of base stealers and owns a .993 fielding percentage. 

Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series


Cubs, Indians name starting pitchers for Game 1 of World Series

World Series ace Jon Lester is all set to start Game 1 for the Chicago Cubs.

Lester will be fully rested when he pitches Tuesday night at Cleveland. Corey Kluber will start for the Indians.

The 32-year-old lefty is 2-0 in three starts during this postseason, with wins over the Giants and Dodgers in the NL playoffs. He was 19-5 during the regular season.

Lester is 3-0 in three starts in the World Series with a sparkling 0.43 ERA. He helped the Boston Red Sox win championships in 2007 and 2013.

Cubs manager Joe Maddon says Lester is "really, really in the moment" right now.


Indians ace Corey Kluber will start Game 1 of the World Series against the Chicago Cubs.

Manager Terry Francona said Sunday that he will go with Kluber, an 18-ame winner during the regular season, in the opener on Tuesday night. The right-hander is 2-1 with a 0.98 ERA in his first postseason.

Francona has right-handers Trevor Bauer and Josh Tomlin penciled in for Games 2 and 3, respectively. The order could change depending on how Bauer's injured right pinkie heals over the next few days.

Bauer's start in the AL Championship Series lasted less than one inning after his pinkie began bleeding against Toronto. He injured his finger when he sliced it open while repairing a drone.

Also, injured starter Danny Salazar could be available against the Cubs. Salazar hasn't pitched since Sept. 9 because of forearm tightness but he's made major progress in the past week and could be on the World Series roster.