SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Giants officials chewed over everyaspect of their roster Monday night. Theyll continue to digest the BrandonBelt decision.
But there is skepticism about Belts readiness succeed atthe big league level.
Even with extra roster spots afforded by Freddy Sanchez andRyan Vogelsong starting on the disabled list, sources tell me it remains verypossible likely, even that Belt will begin the year at Triple-A Fresno.
Belt is batting .380 with a .429 on-base percentage andthree home runs. Only Hector Sanchez and Melky Cabrera have a higher OPS amongplayers. Yet he remains a work in progress with the coaching staff, who areconcerned that his setup and swing mechanics will leave him vulnerable againstquality major league pitching.
The thing we continue to talk to him about is no matter howgood his spring is going numbers wise, we want to see him have good mechanics,Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens told me. We know how he was pitched lastseason and the things he struggled with. All were doing right now is make surehes prepared, if and when hes back in the big leagues, he no longer goesthrough those struggles.
Meulens said he is trying to get Belt to stand taller andmove back in the batters box.
Hes way out in front of the batters box, Meulens said.It works for him, but want to make sure hes getting the bat head out on thosepitches middle-in and not just trying to flare it to left-center. Were on theback field using drills so he can create that feel. When his elbow goes out,the barrel actually flattens and it takes a longer time to get the bat out infront.
Hes had success in this camp, but the pitching isdifferent here. We all know that. We see a lot of minor league guys pitching inthese games. Its not to take anything away from him, but theres still somethings that were trying to refine so hell have success at the big leaguelevel.
Why does Belt stand so far up in the box? Is he trying tohit curveballs before they break?
That's one way to look at it, but Im just worried aboutthe fastball, Meulens said. I dont want the fastball to beat me. Hes a goodoffspeed hitter. We just want him to get to the fastball so hes not foulingso many off or getting beat by them. Thats what were telling a lot of hittersthis spring. Dont get beat on the fastball. Be ready to hit the fastball.
Its a comfort thing. Hes always done it. Hes had successwith it and theres no need to change in his mind. We believe that backing offa little more, especially against lefties, will give him a little more time.
Meulens said he loves Belts attitude, and echoed theconfidence of others in the organization that he has a bright future in the bigleagues.
I talk to him every day and he feels great, Meulens said. Its, 'Were trying to make you understand that I want you have a certain path to theball. Thats how you will have more success at the big league level. He says hefeel great, hes excited about playing every day and thats all you ask from ayoung player. Have him come in and feel good about himself.
We dont want to break him. Were just trying to preparehim to have success at the big league level.
If Belt begins at Triple-A Fresno, Aubrey Huff is expected to be the everyday first baseman, yielding at times or possibly shifting to left field to give occasional starts to Buster Posey.