Bochy on Belt: 'Brandon is a little lost right now'

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Bochy on Belt: 'Brandon is a little lost right now'

ATLANTA Now that Eli Whiteside is the backup catcherinstead of Hector Sanchez for the time being, how will Giants manager BruceBochy divvy up the duties behind the plate?

Bochy said hell use the same criteria that he used before:Itll be subject to the schedule, to the pace of games and when Buster Poseyrequires a break from strapping on his shin guards.

Bochy said Posey could catch Tim Lincecum on Friday. OrWhiteside could catch him. It depends on a number of factors, one of which is thepotential for a rain delay and a long night at Turner Field this evening. (Ifthe Giants walk out of here at 1 a.m., then its a good bet Posey wouldntcatch Thursday afternoons series finale.)

I mentioned to Bochy that if he decides to have Whitesidework with Lincecum on Friday in Philadelphia, it would feed the perception thatthe manager is intentionally keeping Posey from catching the Giants strugglingformer ace.

Not at all, Bochy said. This is more ... We have theluxury of Buster being able to play first base. Theres a good chance hellcatch Timmy. Well see where hes at. But at some point, hes going to need aday. When he does, its probably with (Barry) Zito or Timmy. That doesnt meanI dont want him catching them. Thats just how its been to this point.

This is more a case of were looking for production atfirst base.

So yes, the Lincecum-Posey discussion is related to thewhy-doesnt-Bochy-like-Brandon-Belt discussion.

What does Bochy make of Belts return to a funk at theplate?

I think its fair to say Brandon is a little lost rightnow, Bochy said. Its timing and confidence again. I say this so many times:Theyll have their ups and downs, young players, and they have to learn to dealwith it.

I know hes working hard in the cage. At the same time, youvegot to get production from everywhere, especially first base. Our hope is hellget it going there and contribute to this offense.

If not, Belt could find some fresh competition very soon viathe trade market if he isnt traded himself. Thats not the craziest notionin the world, given his perceived value to other GMs and the Giants relativelack of blue-chip prospects.

Belt is hitting .163 with a .222 OBP in 18 games since his torrid, 11-game hitting streak ended in late June.

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As for the decision to put Hector Sanchez on the DL, Bochysaid the backup catcher likely would be out five to seven days. Thats just toolong to go short, especially when the backup -- Pablo Sandoval is a guy whohasnt caught a big league game since 2009.

Whiteside has familiarity with the staff and is on the40-man roster, so he was an automatic choice. In fact, Bochy said it made themove to DL Sanchez a bit easier because all the pitchers already know Whitesideand feel comfortable throwing to him.

Whiteside's commercial flight is scheduled to land a few minutes before the first pitch and the Giants expect him to be in uniform at some point during the game.

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The tarp came off the field roughly 45 minutes before the first pitch and the field is being groomed, but there remain some pretty bright streaks across the sky. The radar shows that the rain should hold up for a few hours. As they say, we have a window.

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today. 

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija whirled and fired a strike to Eduardo Nuñez shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. With that, the Giants took another step back toward actual baseball.

Monday was the first day of live batting practice sessions, but the most important one took place thousands of miles east of Scottsdale Stadium. Johnny Cueto faced teenage prospects at the club’s facility in Santo Domingo, and Bruce Bochy said he would call Cueto to check in on his progress. 

The Giants are not concerned that Cueto — who is tending to his ill father — is missing so much of spring training. They know him well enough by now to know that Cueto paces himself and takes care of his body. They are, however, starting to get a little concerned about Cueto missing so much camp and then going straight to the World Baseball Classic. 

“The spring started early so he’s got plenty of time to get ready for (opening day),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The question will be will he be ready for the WBC. That’s the question we have to answer.”

Bochy said he would like to see Cueto in the 50-60 pitch range before he goes off to compete for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican team opens play March 9 at Marlins Park. 

“We’re going to talk about a lot of things,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where he’s at, see where he’s at mentally, and see how his father is doing.”

Bochy noted that Nolan Ryan used to show up to camp on March 1 and throw 80 mph, working his way up from there. The Giants view Cueto the same way, but at some point there will be a breaking point where the WBC participation becomes a real concern. At the very least, Bochy said, Cueto might be asked to join the DR team later in the tournament.