Schierholtz envisions no U-turns in 2012

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Schierholtz envisions no U-turns in 2012

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Nate Schierholtz spent the winterrunning with parachutes and pulling sleds, and no, he wasnt a contestant onThe Amazing Race."He does hope to be off to the races in 2012, though.By the time I leave here, I plan to make the stolen basepart of my game, said Schierholtz, the Giants incumbent right fielder.Definitely, I know its something Ill be comfortable doing.He hasnt been comfortable in the past, as his career stats illustrate. In parts of five seasons, the 28-year-old has stolen 17 bases and been caught12 times.Id always worry about making the out, he said.

His reticence to run included called plays from the bench.In one instance at Arizona in 2010, he entered as a pinch runner under ordersto steal second base and got picked off. (He later hit the game-winningtriple in extra innings, so all was forgotten that night.)This season, Schierholtz plans on following orders andexecuting them to success, too.Shoot, Im one of the slower guys in the outfield now,said Schierholtz, who figures to play alongside Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan.All of the sudden, the outfield is a pretty athletic group of guys. Id liketo show I can hang with em.I always felt I was pretty good at going first to third orsecond to home. But I need to steal bases, too, because this is a differentteam this year. Were built around speed and athleticism.Schierholtz is a major cage rat, but he spent time away fromhis bats this winter while working with newly promoted strength andconditioning coordinator Cark Kochan. Out came the parachutes and the sleds.Schierholtz also spent more time in the gym on exercises to strengthen his hipsand core.The key is getting a good jump, he said. Its all inthose first two to three steps.Schierholtz was one of many players on the basepaths morethan an hour before Tuesdays workout, practicing their leads and jumps. Duringthe workout, Kochan conducted a drill in which he shouted out various gamesituations such as sacrifice flies or doubles to the gap.Some easy trots wouldn't be bad, either. Although a fractured foot shortened his season, Schierholtz is coming off his best year at the plate; his nine home runs (in335 at-bats) equaled his career total from the previous four seasons combined(in 699 at-bats).Always labeled a power-hitting prospect in the minors,Schierholtz said there was a simple reason he was able to launch shotsinto McCovey Cove last season.In the past, coming off the bench as an extra outfielder, Iwas so concerned with getting my hits so Id get another opportunity to play,he said. I wasnt trying to drive the ball as much as make sure I got a hit. Everybody knows that if youre on thebench and your average doesnt look too good, youre not going to play.Last year, I learned to let it go a little bit. I figured Ididnt have anything to lose. I decided Id go out and play the way I want toplay. It worked out better than ever before.

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.”