Bochy convinces Belt to make adjustment

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Bochy convinces Belt to make adjustment

MIAMI Although Giants manager Bruce Bochy finallyconvinced Brandon Belt to make some adjustments to his swing, the hailstorm ofstrikeouts probably did more to convince the young first baseman that something needed to change.

The biggest thing is getting myself in a hole and notputting balls in play that should be in play, Belt told me on Friday, when hecarried an 0-for-12, eight-strikeout streak into the game. Thats an approachtype of thing. Its a mental type of thing. At the same time, there might be aneed for a mechanical adjustment.

That day, Bochy took aside Belt and asked him to be moreopen-minded to making some adjustments that hes resisted since the spring. Thecoaching staff has tried to get him to be more upright and open up his stance,thereby freeing up his hips and allowing him to turn on inside pitches.

Bochy said that Belt incorporated those changes and had betterat-bats off the bench Friday, including an RBI single.

I like where hes at right now, Bochy said today. We talked abouta lot of things, hitting approach. Sometimes you make adjustments and thatswhat hes done.

And he likes it. he likes where hes at, too, and thatsprobably more important.

Belts swing-and-miss rate is 28 percent this season. He swungthrough just 18 percent of strikes last year.

Ive gone through it, Belt told me on Friday. The end ofmy last year, I was going through the same thing when it was just tough to putballs in play. Id square a few up here and there, and Im not even doing thatright now.

Im looking at video. I see some adjustments to make. Butits more of just knowing myself. Most of it has been a timing issue or amental approach. Ive just got to figure out what to change and do it.

Personally, how is Belt dealing with these struggles?

You know, Im fine, the 24-year-old said. Im a lotbetter than I was last year. It was harder to take back then.

I know this is the worst of the worst. Thats pretty muchas bad as I can get. When I get the right approach and the right mindset, Illget better.

Belt said he has to get back to reacting to pitches insteadof guessing. Opening his stance should help him recognize pitches better, Bochysaid.

You get to a point when youre caught in between, Belt toldme. Youre not really taking a professional approach up there. Youre eitherdeciding to swing or not to swing instead of seeing the ball and hitting itlike youre supposed to.

Belt said he needed to keep his head more still, which hecan do when he keeps his weight back longer.

I havent been doing that, Belt said. I dont know ifits being too anxious or what. I just know I havent had my swing all year, not since thespring. Well make some changes and Ill try to find it.

Bochy said it was a tough call to start Aubrey Huff overBelt on Sunday. He wanted Belt to take another day, knowing how hard it is towork on making adjustments in the cage while also needing to be results-orientedwhen the game starts. Bochy also said he liked the way Huff is working deepercounts; he nearly hit a home run on Friday.

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.