Giants

Bochy denies any rift between Posey and Lincecum

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Bochy denies any rift between Posey and Lincecum

Programming note: Giants-Phillies coverage gets underway today with Giants Pregame Live at 3:30 p.m., then Kruk and Kuip are behind the mic for live baseball from Philadelphia at 4, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

PHILADELPHIA Giants manager Bruce Bochy was adamant: Thereis no rift between Tim Lincecum and Buster Posey.

There is no lack of confidence in Poseys ability to coaxthe Giants two-time Cy Young winner out of his season-long doldrums.

As curious as it looked for Bochy to start Eli Whiteside onFriday night, the sixth consecutive Lincecum start without Posey behind theplate, Bochy insisted that it was his call.

And what about the notion, reported as fact by at least onenational baseball scribe, that Posey likely wont catch Lincecum again thisseason?

That is completely false completely false, Bochy said.Timmy doesnt care who he throws to, and its my call when I want to getBuster a break.

At least as far as appearances are concerned, the Posey-Lincecumsituation went from a bit curious to downright strange on Friday. The Giantswere playing a night game after a day game in Atlanta, so there would appear tobe little incentive to rest Posey.

But Bochy said Posey was worn out after Thursdays game inwarm conditions. And Bochy acknowledged one other factor that hadnt beenspoken aloud until now: Catching Lincecum is a bear.

(Posey) wasnt going to catch all three, I wanted to givehim a breather, and to be honest, Timmy can be hard on a catcher, Bochy said. Hecan beat you up pretty good, and I didnt want Buster to be in another toughgame after catching on hot weather (Thursday).

And thats the truth. Its totally my decision here.

Bochy also anticipated the next question, saying he hasevery confidence in Poseys ability to handle Lincecum.

Youve watched him, Bochy said. You know how many ballshe bounces. You see the movement. And hes got such great stuff. He does liketo throw a lot of balls down in the dirt. He does that effectively.

Busters handled him fine. Its just that day gameyesterday, he felt it. Talking to him, he felt it.

I dont want to wear him down. You get to a point ofdiminishing returns with guys and then they need two or three days off to gettheir legs back.

Posey, who is starting at first base in the series opener atCitizens Bank Park, is on pace to start 108 games at catcher. Thats in the middleto high end of the range that the coaching staff and front office expected inspring training.

The offshoot is that Brandon Belts bat is giving way toWhiteside. That was less of a concern when Hector Sanchez was the backupcatcher. But now the Giants will have problems lengthening the lineup on dayswhen Posey isnt behind the plate.

As Arroyo is shut down, Sandoval's numbers nosedive

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USATSI

As Arroyo is shut down, Sandoval's numbers nosedive

SAN FRANCISCO — There is a Houston Astros prospect named Dean Deetz, and in a way, Pablo Sandoval can thank him for his second shot with the Giants. 

Deetz drilled Christian Arroyo on July 1, halting the young third baseman’s bid to return to the Giants for the final two months. With Eduardo Nuñez traded to Boston and Arroyo recovering from minor hand surgery, the Giants turned to Sandoval, who has been a fixture in the middle of their lineup the last couple of weeks. Arroyo hoped to get some time at the hot corner in September, but on Thursday the Giants conceded that won’t happen. 

Arroyo will miss the rest of the regular season, team officials said. The hope is that he can get healthy in time for the Arizona Fall League and then potentially make up lost at-bats in a winter league.

Arroyo is either the organization’s best or second-best hitting prospect, depending on which list you look at. He hit .396 in Triple-A this season and then provided a momentary jolt after he forced his way into the big league lineup. Then the slump came, and overall Arroyo hit just .192 in 34 big league games. He was sent back to the minors and promptly was hit by a couple of pitches. 

It was a season with plenty of highs but a disappointing ending, but Arroyo is still just 22 and looks to be a big part of the future. Has he done enough to go into next spring with a firm grip on a job? 

“I’ll have to answer that later on and see where we’re at,” manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday. “It’s all going to be competitive, that’s the way I look at it. You look at where we’ll finish, and not in the postseason, and you have to stay open-minded on everything.”

This could be setting up for a pretty intriguing spring battle. Arroyo and 23-year-old Ryder Jones were the internal candidates set for a competition, but Sandoval likely will be the everyday third baseman down the stretch. He has shown flashes of his old pre-Boston self and the Giants have been generally pleased with his play. Still, the results aren’t really there. 

Sandoval is hitting .200 since returning, with a .220 on-base percentage and .325 slugging percentage. That's good for a .545 OPS, which is nearly 100 points below his OPS in Boston this season. The Red Sox, at some point, had seen enough.  

Bochy said he has taken positives away from Sandoval's energy and some of his bigger moments, particularly the upper-deck homer he hit off Max Scherzer over the weekend. That’s his only homer with the Giants so far, but it made an impression. 

“He’s got the bat speed,” Bochy said. “That’s one of the longest homers we’ve seen this year. That shows (the bat speed) is there.”

Jones has been a fixture as well, playing first base in place of Brandon Belt. He has looked much better the second time around, but his average is still below .200 and his OPS of .559 is just about equal to Sandoval's. The Giants have not seen enough from anyone to have a favorite to play third base next season, and Bochy said the same holds true at other positions. 

"We've got to stay open-minded about who is going to be where next year (and) playing time," he said. "It's up to us to adjust and get better."

Pence chases Span home in win over Phillies: 'That's Hunter being Hunter'

Pence chases Span home in win over Phillies: 'That's Hunter being Hunter'

SAN FRANCISCO — Denard Span has played enough center field at AT&T Park that he knew not to assume anything when Jarrett Parker crushed a ball to dead center. Span, standing on second, held up for a second to make sure the ball got over Nick Williams. Hunter Pence, standing on first, had a better view, and he took off with the crack of the bat. As Pence approached Span, he tried to yell over the crowd. 

“Go!” Pence yelled.

Span didn’t hear him. 

“I just felt him,” he said later, smiling. 

Span raced around third and Pence roared up on his back like the third sprinter in a 4x100 relay trying to hand off a baton. Span crossed first and Pence was inches behind him, stretching the lead to three runs. 

“It’s one of those plays that’s a little weird but it worked out,” Pence said. 

Jeff Samardzija, the pitcher of record in a 5-4 win over the Phillies, said Pence “was on a mission.” Span said simply, “That’s Hunter being Hunter.”

“I knew he was right on my heels,” he said. “I was trying to run as fast as I could. In my defense, he had a running start. It was fun, though, it was fun. I’ve never had anyone chasing me like that on the bases.”

The moment brought some levity to a season that’s been lacking it. Span laughed as he crossed the plate and the dugout was full of smiles and jokes as the two returned. But on a grander scale, it was a reminder of what Pence has been and what the Giants need him to be if they are to recover from this season. Pence is signed for 2018 at a hefty price. The odds are good that he'll be in right field, so it’s been a relief for coaches and team officials to see Pence pick it up in recent weeks. 

Pence had a hit and two walks on Thursday, scoring two runs and driving in another. He is batting .346 in August. 

“He has just been making more consistent contact and staying in the strike zone more,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

That has led to better results at the plate, and Pence has provided reminders that the physical skills are still there. After going 0-for-AT&T Park in the first half he hit a couple of homers on the last homestand. Statcast’s Sprint Speed shows that Pence is actually running faster at his top speed than in the past couple of years, when he battled injuries. Pence is at 28.2 feet per second this year, a tick up from 28.1 each of the past two seasons. 

“Baseball goes in waves,” he said. “I’ve had some tough stretches, but right now I’m in a stretch where I’m going better and I’m still trying to improve.”

On Thursday, he pushed a teammate to run just a little faster. But perhaps Pence’s good friend deserves some credit for Span’s speed, too. After stealing his fifth base a few days back, Buster Posey started needling Span. The leadoff hitter has three stolen bases in seven games since that point, getting to eight for the year. 

“He was just talking too much trash,” Span said of Posey. 

Span said Posey mentioned their equal stolen base totals two or three times. He didn’t respond because he couldn’t. Now, he has bragging rights again, and he’s enjoying it. 

“Check the tapes,” Span said as reporters started to walk away from his locker. “I think I’ve got a stolen base off of him.”