Bochy makes MVP pitch for Posey, delays Melky decision

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Bochy makes MVP pitch for Posey, delays Melky decision

There are still eight games remaining on the Giantsschedule, but that didnt stop manager Bruce Bochy from casting hisnon-existent MVP vote for Buster Posey.To me he is the MVP, Bochy said before Wednesdays gameagainst the Arizona Diamondbacks. Were not in this situation without Buster.Thats how valuable he is to us with the year hes had and being a catcher andhandling the staff and hitting cleanup and all thats thrown at him. Thats notbeing disrespectful to the other guys, but hes my guy. Sure, thats how Ifeel.Posey had an impressive first half en route to an All-Star Game start, thenturned into a different hitter after the Midsummer Classic. Since going 0-for-2with a walk and a run scored in Kansas City, Posey has hit a majorleague-leading .384 with 20 doubles, 13 home runs, 56 RBIs and 39 runs. He isin a race with Pittsburghs Andrew McCutchen for the National League battingtitle and is one RBI away from becoming the first Giant since Barry Bonds in2004 to reach the century club.Hes had an incredible season, especially when you look at what he wentthrough, the long road he had to go down on his rehab, Bochy said. And nowhes looking at getting 100 RBIs.Posey has also played in 141 games, which includes 106 starts at catcher, 27 atfirst base and three as Bochys designated hitter. Those numbers are on thehigh end for any regular catcher, let alone one coming off major surgery.The day off he had a couple days ago, that was his firstday off in 27, 28 games, Bochy said. Its a credit to how well he takes careof himself, how hard he worked on his rehab, our training staff, how hard theyworked with him. It also shows you what an incredible talent that Buster is tomiss all that time and come back this year and put together the season that hehas.For Bochy, Poseys contributions range far beyond the box score.Hes got a calmness about him. Hes not afraid to talk tosomebody if its time to talk to him. And he leads by example. He comes outhere every day ready to go. His preparation before the game, whether itsworking out or studying getting ready for the game.Insider Andrew Baggarly reported Wednesday morning that Melky Cabrera, servingthe tail end of his 50-game suspension for failing a drug test, would not be inthe Giants postseason plans. Bochy would not confirm that the decision hasbeen made yet, but he did offer some clarification on the timeframe for anannouncement.
NEWS: Melky to be left off Giants' playoff roster
Well have something tomorrow, Bochy said. Like I saidyesterday, before we hit the road here, well hopefully get this cleared up andfigure out exactly what were going to do.While Bochy will likely be the one to announce the decision,that doesnt mean hes heavily involved in the debate.Melky, his agent, Im sure they're involved, Bochy said. Imnot in those discussions personally. My focus has been out here. They want toget something done here pretty soon.It would make sense for the Giants to wait until Bochys postgame pressconference Thursday, which would give reporters the least amount of time topepper him with Cabrera-related questions. I know its getting close here and there are different waysto look at this, Bochy said. We have to think about whats best for the club.Guys that are ready and have been playing, things like that. That comes intoit. Whether he could be ready. All these things are being talked about now.Cabrera wouldnt even be eligible to return to the Giants until after theyveplayed five playoff games. That gives Bochy even more time to postpone adecision.Right now, were going to the playoffs, Bochy said. Weregoing to the first round so hes not a part of that. Thats why its kind ofbeen on the back burner, to be honest, for me.The Giants media notes list Sundays starter in San Diegoas TBA. The series finale against the Padres would normally be Tim Lincecumsturn to pitch, but the Giants are likely hoping to give him and the otherstarters some extra rest while also aligning their rotation for the playoffs.Bochy said theres still a chance that Lincecum could pitchSunday, but strongly hinted that wouldnt be the case.Theres a chance Lincecum pitches, Bochy said. Weregoing to leave that open in case we want to tweak the rotation. Thats the luxuryyou have when you clinch early. We havent set that yet and if we want to moveit around, then we have the pitching here that we can do it.Yusmeiro Petit started in place of Lincecum last Sunday, the day after theGiants clinched the division title, and seems to be the most likely candidatefor a spot start again Sunday.Bochy said he was impressed with Petits Giants debut andthat hes being considered for the Sunday start in San Diego."Hes already started one and he did a good job," Bochysaid. "Its nice to have a starter here that you can put in there and give yousome innings and you dont have to chew up your bullpen."

Giants spring training Day 15: Arroyo picks up where he left off

Giants spring training Day 15: Arroyo picks up where he left off

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants do not expect Christian Arroyo, their top hitting prospect, to get a lot of at-bats in a camp filled with veteran infielders. But the 21-year-old continues to make the most of every opportunity he gets. 

Arroyo hit a scorching single to left in his first at-bat Monday. When he came up with the bases loaded in the seventh, he poked a single into right, tying the game. Arroyo grounded out in his final at-bat, ending his perfect run this spring. With three hits in his first four at-bats down here, Arroyo is now 17-for-30 in three springs in big league camp.

“It’s the same (thing) he did last spring,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s getting great at-bats and playing well at shortstop. In the early go here, he’s playing the kind of ball that he was last spring. His mechanics are very solid. It’s a good foundation, good balance, and he doesn’t try to do too much. The bat stays in the zone a long time and he uses the whole field well. He’s a good hitter. He’s only going to hit for more power. The power is going to come, too.”

A move to the hitter-friendly Pacific Coast League should help. No matter what Arroyo does this spring, the Giants will send him to Triple-A if their 40-man guys are healthy. But Arroyo’s time is coming, and it’s coming soon. 

For more on Arroyo, here’s a feature I wrote about him last week. Here’s more from the first day of the third week of spring training … 

GAME RECAP: The Giants will not go undefeated this season. They lost to the A’s for the 124th consecutive time in the Cactus League, this time by a score of 5-4 … Michael Morse got the first hit of his comeback attempt. His pinch-hit single up the middle in the seventh drove in a run. In the eighth, he lined a two-strike single to right … Brandon Belt hit his first homer of the spring. It was the 24th of his spring training career. You can see it here … Bochy was impressed with Jose Dominguez, who struck out one in a scoreless inning. 

STOCK WATCH: Orlando Calixte played right field, after previously seeing time at short and second this spring. “He’s intriguing,” Bochy said. “He showed the arm off in right field. He’s a good shortstop and plays second and third. He’s a good athlete.” The Giants plan to carry five outfielders, but if none of the right-handed bats break through, they could always carry Calixte as a super-utility guy. Remember, he’s on the 40-man roster. 

CUETO UPDATE: The co-ace still is not in big league camp, or on the way. Here’s the latest on Johnny Cueto. 

TRAINER’S ROOM: This room now belongs to Anthony Reyes, as Dave Groeschner is off to South Korea with Hensley Meulens and Team Netherlands. Will Smith (elbow) threw off flat ground and everything went fine. Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) will likely resume playing third base later this week.

QUOTABLE: “To have that splitter that out of the hand looks like a heater, for me, that’s huge.” — Jeff Samardzija on a pitch that helped him dominate in September. Here’s more on Samardzija and his plans for 2017. 

 

Samardzija sticking with more versatile approach in second year with Giants

Samardzija sticking with more versatile approach in second year with Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija’s first season in San Francisco was ultimately not far from what the Giants hoped it would be. Samardzija gave them the desired durability, throwing 203 innings with a 3.81 ERA in 32 starts. 

The route to those final numbers was remarkably circuitous. Samardzija had a 2.84 ERA through the season’s first two months, but that number jumped all the way up to 6.23 over his next 11 starts, seven of them losses for the team. As the Giants went into a second-half tailspin, Samardzija found his groove and helped keep them in the playoff race. He had a 2.45 ERA over his final 10 starts, earning the nod as the Game 2 starter in the NLDS. That appearance against the Cubs lasted just two innings. 

The up-and-down season showed the Giants two very different versions of a big offseason acquisition, and at times opposing hitters saw two very different Samardzijas. He went heavy on his cutter early, but when hitters started teeing off on pitches that all came in at a somewhat similar velocity, Samardzija mixed in a curveball that was completely mothballed through June. Down the stretch, when he found his form, Samardzija brought back his splitter and ignored the cutter. He threw 165 cutters in April but just two in September. On the flip side, he threw 113 splitters in September after never throwing more than 35 the first five months. 

“He found the splitter and using it more made him more of a complete pitcher,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s got the four (main) pitches now. They can’t just sit on the hard stuff. He had a good year. It was a little bump there, but he had a great run and was throwing the ball really well (down the stretch). He’s one of our guys. We certainly think (that deal) is going to pay off, and it did last year. He got us deep into games consistently.”

Samardzija learned from the up-and-down year, and during his first start of the spring, he varied the repertoire. He gave up two runs in the first inning but was pleased with a curveball he threw four times — twice for called strikes, twice for foul balls. 

“If you can get it going here in Arizona, it’s going to be a pretty solid pitch for you,” he said. “(Bringing it back last year) was kind of out of necessity. I picked it up and played around with it and it felt good.”

The curveball, which he hadn't thrown since 2012, changed eye levels last season and kept hitters from loading up on pitches in the low to mid 90s. Samardzija further expanded the velocity gap by finding the feel of a splitter that had toyed with him for years.

“For me, with that splitter coming back late in the year, it’s going to be about mixing it in and seeing what feels good on that day, seeing what’s going to be the out pitch,” he said. “I had been chasing (the feel) of it since 2014. We broke it all the way back down and went back to zero. So many guys were sitting fastball. To have that splitter that out of the hand looks like a heater, for me, that’s huge.”

The Giants expect the more varied approach to lead to big results in 2017, and Samardzija could subtly benefit from a change Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti made. Samardzija will pitch behind left-hander Matt Moore, not Johnny Cueto. He said he would often last season compare notes with Cueto, who like Samardzija, pitched most of his career in the NL Central. The two would often take a similar approach on the mound.

“(Opponents will) have to face a tough lefty like Moore, so they can’t have that same lineup two days in a row,” Samardzija said. “To me, that’s big.”