Programming note: Padres-Giants coverage starts tonight at 6:30 p.m. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area with Giants Pregame Live (Channel locations)
SAN FRANCISCO – It sure looks like Bruce Bochy received his membership card to the #FreeBelt movement.
One day after Belt struck out four times to finish a woeful series against the Cleveland Indians in which he went 0 for 12 with nine strikeouts, the first baseman was back in the lineup hitting third against the San Diego Padres.
This wouldn’t have happened in either of the past two seasons. But two things are different now. Belt is handling this cold spell much better, and partly as a result of that, Bochy has confidence in him.
“You really have to watch a player and see how he’s handling it,” Bochy said. “It’s not easy. I’m sure he’s frustrated and down at times, but he’s going out and playing great defense. That’s why I want to throw him out there tonight.
“He’s our first baseman. He’s our best first baseman. He’ll be out there for the most part.”
Bochy reserved the right to play Buster Posey at first base if Belt continues to struggle. But for now, #FreeBelt reigns.
Belt took extra batting practice indoors and said he knows what he needs to fix in his swing mechanics. Brandon Crawford noted that even after Sunday’s game, when Belt struck out four times on fastballs down the middle, he was in an upbeat frame of mind.
Not much else of note as the Giants try to extend a four-game winning streak and potentially even finish as strong as 18-10 in April. Brandon Hicks is back in the lineup and probably will play all series because the Padres have lefty starters in the final two games here. Bochy said he would give some other guys a day here and there so he could get Joaquin Arias a start. Crawford is likely to get a day, and perhaps Pablo Sandoval as well.
It looks as if Hicks has a chance to become mostly a regular in Marco Scutaro’s absence. The Marco Monday update wasn’t much of an update. He continues to do baseball work and rehab in Arizona, with good days and bad days.
The Giants remain confident that Scutaro will be able to play at some point this season, but for now he hasn’t made enough consistent progress with the nerve issue in his back and hip to warrant moving forward.