Bochy plans platoon in left with Nady, Blanco

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Bochy plans platoon in left with Nady, Blanco

SAN FRANCISCO Until August 15, Bruce Bochy didnt have tospend much time deciding who to play in left field on a game-by-game basis.Melky Cabrera was the Giants everyday left fielder, other than the occasionalday of rest and a brief hamstring issue. But when Major League Baseball handedthe Giants No. 3 hitter a 50-game suspension, it left Bochy with a dailydebate.That debate hasnt gotten any easier in the last month, as both Gregor Blancoand Xavier Nady, two of Bochys most experienced options, have dealt withinjuries. Nady hasnt played since Sept. 5 due to a left hamstring strain, butis back in the starting lineup for Mondays series opener against the ColoradoRockies. With Jhoulys Chacin, a right-hander, on the mound, the left-handed hittingBlanco would normally be in line for a start, but the speedster has his ownshoulder issue to deal with.Bochy said that Blanco will take batting practice and be re-evaluated Tuesday.He added that he feels comfortable using Blanco as a pinch-runner but istargeting Wednesday for a potential return to the starting lineup. In themeantime, hes happy to have Nady back.Hes a guy we brought up that helped us right away, Bochysaid of Nady, who went 4-for-12 with two doubles and three RBIs for the Giantsbefore his hamstring acted up. Now it looks like hes good to go so hell beout in left field with Blanco still feeling the shoulder a little bit. He needsanother day or two. I was close to starting Nady yesterday, but felt like heneeded another day. He ran the bases well, passed all the tests, and checkedall the boxes off, so hes good to go.Nady was in left field along with Justin Christian,Francisco Peguero and Ryan Theriot before Mondays game going through drills.While Bochy has previously mentioned Theriot as an option in left in the past,he made it clear that he wont put the long-time infielder in the outfieldunless hes forced to.He wants to go out there bad, Bochy said of Theriot. Andweve thought about it, but hes probably more of an emergency guy. But hesavailable Ill say that.Theriot, who once jokingly said that he was fine in theoutfield except for on fly balls, updated his comfort level after Mondayspregame practice: I feel good.Theriot will remain in a reserve role, however, as long as Nady stays healthyand Blancos shoulder improves. Bochy said he plans to platoon the twoeventually.Ill use both of them, Bochy said. Gregor gives you a little differentdynamic: speed, defense out there. And I really like the way hes been swingingthe bat. And X, hes more of a power-type bat. So Ill use both of them andwell ham and egg it with those two once they get healthy.Blanco has started 19 of the Giants last 29 games sinceCabreras suspension and has hit .280 over his last seven games. For hiscareer, Blanco hits .260 against right-handers and .227 against southpaws. Nadyhas hit lefties at a .285 clip for his career compared to a .265 averageagainst right-handers. The splits matter to Bochy, but the way he talked aboutNadys veteran presence suggests that the Cal alum might have the upper hand toget more starts during the stretch run.Hes been around; he knows how to play the game, Bochy said of Nady. Hes abig right-handed bat that can help this lineup and he was swinging well beforehe got hurt. And he hasnt missed too much time so I dont think it should takehim long to feel comfortable up there at the plate. When you have a guy thatsplayed in the big leagues as long as he has, thats a good thing down thestretch.Asked by a Rockies reporter why his team has excelled lately,Bochy said the Giants are winning because theyre getting contributions fromevery spot in the lineup.Were not a team that leans on one or two guys, Bochy said.We need everybody to do something to help out and thats whats happened.Bochy made it clear the hes focused on the stretch run andnot what could come after it, however. He wasnt ready to discuss thepossibility of clinching the N.L. West title in front of the home crowd or whata potential playoff rotation would look like.Weve got a lot of baseball left, Bochy said. If that gets done, then thatsOK to talk about it, but until then, as a club, myself, weve got work ahead ofus and thats how we have to look at it.

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco … 

 

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Aaron Hill didn't play in the final Cactus League game, but he didn't need to. By simply being on the flight to San Francisco on Tuesday, Hill got good news. 

The veteran infielder was due a $100,000 bonus on Tuesday, and while the Giants haven't formally announced their roster, you don't pay a man that much money to come play three exhibition games against the A's. Hill appears to have made this club as a second backup infielder, along with Conor Gillaspie. Another veteran, Jimmy Rollins, got the news that the Giants are headed in a different direction. 

Team officials spoke with Rollins this week about their future plans. He was not on the travel roster Tuesday and did not attend the game against the Cubs. 

"We're waiting to hear back from him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He knows the scenario and the situation. We're waiting to hear back."

Rollins, 38, showed the Giants that he can still handle shortstop defensively, and he was a quick learner when he moved to second. But he hit just .119, falling behind Hill, Kelby Tomlinson and others in the mix for bench spots. It would seem unlikely that Rollins would want to get additional at-bats in Triple-A, but that feeling hadn't been fully conveyed to team officials Tuesday. There was a hope that Rollins, an East Bay native, might join the team for the Bay Bridge Series, which finishes Saturday in Oakland. Rollins grew up an A's fan.

Rollins and Hill were part of a crowded infield group at the start of camp. Gordon Beckham also had a retention bonus and he asked to be released when he was told he wouldn't make the opening day roster. David Hernandez, the third player due a bonus, also was released. He promptly signed with the Atlanta Braves.