Bochy opines on Belt's power, Sandoval's weight

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Bochy opines on Belt's power, Sandoval's weight

CHICAGO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he only had one real choice to make in Sunday's lineup, and that was whether to play Brandon Belt or Brett Pill at first base.

Belt was hitting left-handers very well earlier in the season, but his splits have gone back to what you might expect: .280 vs. right-handers and .232 vs. lefties.

So Pill, who has been playing every day at Triple-A Fresno, gets a shot.

One other oddity remains from Belt's splits: He has four home runs in 95 at-bats against lefties, and zero in 232 at-bats against right-handers.

Yep. Belt hasn't hit a home run off a right-hander all season. Bochy said he isn't fretting over that. He's pleased with the progress Belt has made, especially making more consistent contact. He also said he wouldn't recommend that Belt return to the Dominican winter league, and that a rest would probably benefit him more than anything.

"Without question, the progress has been pretty good with Brandon," Bochy said. "The contact, the swings and misses he had earlier in the season, he's made some adjustments which have helped him. His confidence has grown, too. Like all young players, it's the normal growth you see. He's turning on balls better but he's still using left field."

Does Bochy envision Belt hitting more home runs next year?

"I do think that's going to happen," the manager said. "He's shown more power, not with home runs, but he's driving the ball better. In batting practice, he's getting through the ball better. And he's strong. Yeah, I think with the adjustments he's made, it'll help him from the power side."

Bochy is keenly aware that the Giants haven't received a home run from a corner infielder since July 8. That's when Pablo Sandoval hit his last one.

And then you've got second base, where the Giants have received one homer all season. Their pitchers have hit two, by the way.

As a team, their 81 home runs are the fewest in the major leagues.

"It's really pretty amazing that we're putting runs on the board without the power," Bochy said. "Power really helps you when you get behind. But we got some timely hits (Saturday) and we got a bases-clearing double. That's been working for us."

It would help to get Sandoval's home run stroke going. He's on a pretty good power outage in his own right -- 104 at-bats -- and Bochy said the time the Panda has missed on the disabled list has messed with his timing. He's still out in front too often.

Then came the burning question: Is Sandoval too heavy?

"That's a good question," Bochy said. "It's an ongoing issue, obviously, and something he's been battling. He showed last year he's a different hitter when his weight is down."

Sandoval often rides an exercise bike after games while his teammates are attacking the spread. He hasn't gained weight in recent weeks.

"We're maintaining it," Bochy said. "We're happy with that. I won't lie, we'd like to get him down a little bit, get him back on the program he had two years ago."

Sandoval worked with trainers at Triple Threat Performance in Arizona last offseason, but it lacked the intensity of the previous winter. Bochy said no plans have been made for Sandoval yet this coming winter, but all parties are well aware that work needs to be done.

We've got a 40 percent chance of rain near the first pitch. Delays would be unwelcome, especially with the Giants playing a Labor Day matinee at AT&T Park on Monday. But overcast skies seem fairly bright as of this writing. So hold a good thought.

Odd fact: This is Matt Cain's fourth consecutive start on the road.

The lineup: CF Pagan, 2BScutaro, 3B Sandoval, C Posey, RF Pence, SS Arias, LF Nady, 1B Pill, P Cain.

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)

With Duffy's uncertain health, Rays reportedly trade for another shortstop

With Duffy's uncertain health, Rays reportedly trade for another shortstop

When the Rays acquired Matt Duffy from the Giants last July, they envisioned the then-third baseman as their everyday shortstop.

But the Achilles injury that hampered him with the Giants hasn't fully healed. He hasn't played in a major league game this season and played in just 21 games after the trade last season.

While Duffy is making progress in his latest attempt to get back on the field, the Rays have reportedly acquired a new shortstop.

Tampa Bay and the Miami Marlins have agreed to a deal that would send slick-fielding Adeiny Hechavarria to the Rays for two minor leaguers, according to multiple reports.

As for Duffy, he missed all of spring training due to irritation in his Achillies. He began a rehab assignment in May, but that lasted just three games. Recently, the Rays sent Duffy back to the doctor that performed the operation on his heal last year. According to TampaBay.com, Dr. Bob Anderson removed a calcium deposit that was causing Duffy to be in pain.

"We're hoping that that is what's been causing all the irritation because it was taken right from the spot where he gets most of this pain," Rays manager Kevin Cash told TampaBay.com on Friday.

Once the stitches heal from this latest operation, Duffy should be able to resume baseball activities and start a rehab assignment shortly after that. In the meantime, Hechavarria, who has been on the DL with an oblique strain, will likely become the Rays starting shortstop.