Bochy challenges Giants to 'man up and be a little tougher'

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Bochy challenges Giants to 'man up and be a little tougher'

DENVER Giants manager Bruce Bochy shut the doors for a20-minute team meeting Friday afternoon, and it wasnt to remind the boys thatJonathan Sanchez often has a wee bit of trouble throwing strikes.

Bochy challenged the team after a 3-7 homestand in which theplayers mentality sometimes looked as soft as their bats.

And he did it in no uncertain terms.

Youve got to man up and be a little tougher, Bochy said,summarizing his main talking point.

Bochy didnt say if he used any audiovisual tactics orplayed scenes from a certain Mel Gibson flick, as hes done in the past. If hedonned a Scottish highlander costume, he changed back into his uniform inrecord time.

But Bochy made it clear he wasnt just telling players toloosen up and have fun.

Perhaps most damning, Bochy intimated that some playersmight be obsessing over personal stats instead of focusing on ways to help theteam win games.

Sometimes we need to compete a little bit better at theplate, Bochy said. Thats being a little tougher mentally. In this game,sometimes you get caught up in personal stats. You forget its about competing.Thats what you love to do.

Thats an issue the Giants figured to face this season, withso many impending free agents including center fielder Angel Pagan, whoseseason took a nosedive in July.

Pagan is starting in the leadoff spot for the first timesince May 23 as Bochy tries to get him going again. At least the switch-hittersbruised hand is improved after he injured it in a fit of frustration.

Bochy addressed the frustration issue, too.

When youre not getting results, you get frustrated andcompound it by taking it into the next at-bat, Bochy said. Sometimes wevegot to do a better job washing those off.

Its a tough homestand. Its never easy when you lose, whatwas it? Seven of eight? It was time, I think, to talk to them and remind them wherewere at here. You go through times when its handed to you, but youve got toshow some resolve here.

The offense clearly misses Pablo Sandoval, even though hereally wasnt hitting the cover off the ball before he went down with ahamstring injury. (Sandoval is jogging and making progress, but Bochy said theGiants wont know if hell return when eligible on Thursday until he begins totest it more aggressively.)

The Giants would do well to recapture some of their spiritfrom 2010, when they responded from some absolutely gut-wrenching losses bywinning the next day. They havent always bounced back as well this season.

Bochy said the hitters met as a group a week ago.

When you dont hit, you look flat, Bochy said. We hadtrouble getting the crowd into it. Youve got to create some excitement scoringruns, too. It looks like youre not having fun. At the same time, wevegot to be a little tougher, too. This game is tough at times and youve got toman up and be a little tougher.

As the manager, you say what needs to be said.

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Bochy said he is aware that Brandon Belt has much betternumbers against left-handed pitching, but he wanted to involve Brett Pillagainst Sanchez. The Rockies will throw three left-handed starters in thisseries, but Bochy said he isnt planning to sit Belt and shortstop BrandonCrawford all weekend.

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

SAN FRANCISCO — As reporters approached Mark Melancon’s locker Monday afternoon, the closer looked up at a clubhouse clock and smiled.

“I guess it’s 3:30,” he said softly. 

A year ago at this time, Giants relievers would have been out in left field jogging and playing catch. The routine was changed a week into the season, and players, coaches and management expressed confusion and frustration Monday about how that became the centerpiece of a FOX Sports article portraying the clubhouse as “boring” and a problem.

The piece, written by Ken Rosenthal and posted Monday morning, said Melancon “rubbed some teammates the wrong way early in the season by putting an end to the bullpen’s 3:30 p.m. stretching session before night games, a practice that the relievers began in 2012.”

Several players mocked the concept as they stretched Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy called it a non-story.

“It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds,” he said. 

Melancon defended the move, saying it was made collectively by the revamped bullpen and staff. He said the Giants decided to be better about time management, noting that it did not make sense for the relievers to run and throw an hour before going back on the field with the rest of the team. The decision was made to instead focus on lifting, eating and doing other clubhouse work in the hours leading up to the 4:30 team stretch. 

“Really it’s nothing — it’s kind of funny it’s been raised,” Melancon said. “I was brought in to be a leader here and take ownership of the bullpen. In conversations with guys and the coaching staff, we decided to change the stretch time. It was the first series of the year, and from a time management standpoint, it’s been good. I’m shocked, but if this is the reason we’re pointing out (for the team’s record), please bring it on.

“We’re talking about stretching. Stretching,” Melancon added, joking he felt like Allen Iverson. 

The story also mentioned Melancon’s routine of spending the first six or seven innings in the clubhouse preparing to pitch. Melancon said he is usually in the bullpen by the fifth or sixth, and noted that that’s been the way of all closers he has worked under, from Mariano Rivera to Jonathan Papelbon. 

“I don’t know anyone who has had a problem with (my routine),” he said. 

His manager certainly doesn’t. Bochy said every closer he has managed did the same thing because they almost never pitch until the ninth. Of course, that’s where the real problem comes. Melancon has a 4.58 ERA and has blown four saves. He said that should have been the focus of any story about the Giants’ struggles. 

“I understand if you lose this many games there’s got to be something to blame, and I’ll take this blame on,” he said. “I haven’t pitched well … There are a lot of things I can be better at with my performance on the field, and that’s first and foremost.”

The Giants expected a bit more on the mound, and Melancon knows it. He owns that part of this. But they have no complaints, sources said, about anything he has done off the field. Several teammates noted Monday that Melancon has also been pitching hurt for a team that’s hopelessly buried in the standings. Melancon also had team employees remodel a small room behind the dugout — adding new seats, a flat screen TV, and inspirational quotes — so relievers were more comfortable while waiting to pitch.

Those are small changes, with nothing to do with how the team has played. And given the way the bullpen pitched last year, any change probably should have been welcomed. 

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

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AP

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

Bud Black and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series opener at AT&T Park:

Rockies (47-31) 
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
5. Raimel Tapia (L) RF
6. Ian Desmond (R) LF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. German Marquez (R) P (5-3, 3.92 ERA)

Giants (27-51)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (2-9, 4.74 ERA)