Pagan, Schierholtz make strides at plate

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Pagan, Schierholtz make strides at plate

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Giants manager Bruce Bochy saw a bunchof tired, overworked hitters the past week. So he locked the cages Wednesdaymorning, pushed back the workout by a half hour and limited drills to defensivestuff on a back field.

The Giants didnt exactly bust out in a 4-1 victory over thebillion-dollar Los Angeles Dodgers, but a couple of their struggling hittersshowed signs of life.

Angel Pagan lined a double for the second consecutive day his two-bagger on Tuesday broke an 0-for-24 streak and said he felt betterafter making a mechanical tweak. And Nate Schierholtz, who still hasnt sewn upthe starting right field job, hit a two-run home run to the opposite field.Schierholtz also threw out a runner trying to go from first to third on asingle.

RECAP: Giants use long ball to top Dodger, 4-1

Hes been working hard and he got better swings today,Bochy said of Schierholtz. Its time for all of us to swing the bat better.

Schierholtz got six at-bats in minor league camp on Tuesdayand that might have helped his timing at the plate. Pagan did the same thing aweek earlier and will go back to load up on at-bats in the minors again as earlyas Thursday.

Bochy said Pagan has had a couple rough springs and welooked into that. I talked to him about that. He says hes feeling better.

EXTRA BAGGS: Pagan can't buy a break

Pagan probably wasnt in danger of losing his job as theGiants leadoff hitter and center fielder, but club officials were beginning toworry as his average plummeted near the .170 mark. They also have a worthyalternative in non-roster outfielder Gregor Blanco, who has been the surpriseof camp.

Although his body language didnt always send the samemessage, Pagan said he was never truly worried.

To me its not about results, he said, denying he knew aboutthe 0-for-24. Im feeling better at the right time. I just want to feelcomfortable and not feeling youre jumping at the plate.

Pagan watched video from 2010 and realized he had changedhis hands.

I made that adjustment and its a great sign, Pagan said. Imseeing the ball really good and my timing is perfect. I just had to get mymechanics right.

Obviously, I wasnt feeling great but I wasnt worriedbecause I work too hard. I know Im going to get that feeling. To me, its veryimportant to feel good at the end of spring, and I do now.

Assuming Pagan is the leadoff man on April 6, hell get thehonor of being in the batters box for the first pitch of the season.

This is my fourth (opening day) as a leadoff hitter and Imvery proud of myself that Ive been this far, he said. I take a lot of pridein that first day. I play with my heart and hopefully the fans like it and itswhat we need to win a championship.

It seems like everybody is committed to win and thats agreat attitude.

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.”