Bochy chooses Hector Sanchez's bat over Belt's

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Bochy chooses Hector Sanchez's bat over Belt's

ATLANTA -- It isn't so Hot-lanta at the moment at Turner Field. Thundershowers cooled it down to a manageable 75 degrees, and the Giants even managed to take batting practice amid a few fat drops.

The pregame news that most will find interesting was Giants manager Bruce Bochy's decision to keep Hector Sanchez in a battery with Barry Zito, and start Buster Posey at first base. In the past, Zito had Sanchez as a personal catcher in order to get regular rest for Posey's ankle and keep continuity with the rest of the staff.

But after hinting that Posey would finally work with Zito, Bochy decided to stick with Sanchez. The reason? He wants to keep the young switch-hitter's bat in the lineup.

I asked the obvious follow-up question. With Posey at first base and Brandon Belt on the bench, does Bochy prefer Sanchez's bat over Belt's?

"Yeah, I think that's fair to say, wouldn't you?" Bochy said. "He's coming off a pretty solid game. That's why I decided to go that way."

The Beltists will not be pleased. They'll point out that although Sanchez is coming off a four-hit game Saturday, Belt drew three walks in last week's Houston series to reach in four of 10 plate appearances. They'll also correctly point out that Belt's .360 OBP is third best on the team, and far better than Sanchez's .282 mark (weighed down by the fact he's walked twice all season.)

This continues to be a sticky situation. Bochy and the coaching staff know what Belt is capable of doing, but they also know that when he's going bad, he's a complete drain on the lineup. He doesn't just go 0 for 12 when he has a bad series. He goes 0 for 12 with eight strikeouts.

The other confounding thing is that Belt is mashing left-handers, which is counterintuitive. In general, it's the manager's job to look at matchups and try to pick spots when he thinks his players will succeed. Today, obviously, he has more confidence in Sanchez than Belt.

Hey, I just tell you what the manager says. Excuse me while I put on a Kevlar vest, just in case.

In other news, Bochy called the team's 4.85 road ERA, the third worst in the majors, "too extreme" when compared to their major league-best 2.31 ERA at home.

"We're not a club that will slug it with other teams," Bochy said. "We'll have to do better in the second half. That last road trip (to Washington and Pittsburgh) didn't help at all. Hopefully we're more acclimated, having just been East, and they know what to expect.

"But that's too dramatic, those numbers."

You know what's not dramatic? Rain delays. Hopefully the weather stays manageable the rest of the night.

Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

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AP

Matt Williams joins NBC Sports Bay Area's Giants TV coverage

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It has been 30 years since Matt Williams broke into the big leagues with the Giants, and he has been back many times in recent seasons as an opposing player, coach and manager. When the Giants play their home opener on April 10, Williams will once again be affiliated with them, this time in a new role. 

Williams will join NBC Sports Bay Area this season as a studio analyst for the pre- and post-game shows, which are expanding to one hour. After spending most of the last two decades in various on and off-field roles for the Arizona Diamondbacks, Williams is coming full circle with the Giants. 

“It feels like that, doesn’t it?” he said. “I love coaching and managing, but I also enjoy talking about the game and experiencing the game from that angle, which is a lot of fun. I really enjoy it. You get to talk about the intricacies of the game.”

Williams knows it inside and out, and not just because he played 17 seasons for the Giants, Diamondbacks and Indians. He has coached first and third base for the Diamondbacks, most recently during the 2016 season. When the organization retooled the front office in the offseason, changes were made to the coaching staff. Williams has also had a stint as a manager, doing two years with the Washington Nationals. He went 179-145, winning the NL Manager of the Year Award in 2014, when the Giants knocked the Nationals out of the postseason in the NLDS. 

Williams is best known in San Francisco for 10 strong years on the field. He hit 378 career home runs, 247 of them with the Giants. Williams is a five-time All-Star, four-time Silver Slugger winner and four-time Gold Glove winner, and he finished in the top five in the MVP voting in 1994 and 1999. While Williams was gone by the time a title drought was broken, he does have a ring to wear around the ballpark. He batted .275 with 16 homers for the champion Diamondbacks in 2001. 

Williams’ time in Arizona also included color commentary for their television and radio broadcasts, and he said he’s looking forward to working with former Giants players he has coached against, and fellow former coach Tim Flannery, who was an NL West rival in the late 1980s. 

“During the offseason, this is always one of my favorite cities to visit,” he said. “It’s home. I’ve been in the Bay Area practically my whole life. It’s a fantastic atmosphere in the ballpark with a great fan base, and the Giants’ recent success has been phenomenal.” 

The Giants plan on that success carrying over into the odd year, and one of the best infielders in franchise history will be along for the ride. 

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.