ATLANTA So much has been made of Buster Poseys playingtime at first base. So it might have been easy to overlook Pablo Sandoval putting on a first basemans mitt for the first time all season Thursday.
Sandoval moved to first base in the eighth inning afterGiants manager Bruce Bochy pinch-hit Justin Christian for Brandon Belt.
And yes, Bochy and his staff, frustrated over the lack ofproduction at the position, will discuss the idea of playing Sandoval at firstbase more often.
Well see, Bochy said. Well talk about it on the plane.
Putting Sandoval at first base would mean having JoaquinArias bat in the lineup with Belt on the bench. That wouldnt seem to be avery good idea, even though Belt continues to struggle to make consistentcontact.
But it might open another avenue for GM Brian Sabean tobolster the lineup. If he cant acquire a first baseman ahead of the July 31non-waiver trade deadline, what about a third baseman?
There arent many attractive third basemen expected to bemade available, but Sabean is known to value an experienced player such as thePhillies Placido Polanco. Its highly unlikely, but if the Giants want tothink big, and that means taking on some big-time salary commitments, theycould gamble on the Marlins Hanley Ramirez.
In the meantime, Bochy has to keep fighting the perceptionthat he is forever down on Belt. In fact, Bochy defended Belts baserunningdecision in the second inning of Thursdays 3-2 loss to the Braves, when he gotthrown out trying to go from first to third on Emmanuel Burrisss single.
Sandoval scored from second base when the throw was cut off.
Theres a play with Pablo at the plate there, so its not abad play (for Belt to run), Bochy said. I dont look at that as the differencein the game. You want to get to third with one out. He just hesitated there.
What about the decision to pinch-hit Justin Christian forBelt in the eighth, after Sandoval hit a double?
Well, even though Belt has been more productive againstleft-handed pitching, Braves southpaw Eric OFlaherty has been virtuallyunhittable against left-handers. Entering the game, OFlaherty held them to a.093 average (4-for-43). Right-handed hitters were batting .354 (28-for-79)with three home runs. And Christian hit the ball on the button three times theprevious night. So the move certainly was defensible, even if it didn't work out.
At any rate, it wasnt a move that reflected entirely onBochys faith in Belt, or lack thereof.
Partially, maybe. But not entirely.
As of right now, the Giants are not close to making anytrades, so Im told. Theyre finishing up the process of canvassing the leagueto find out whos available and whom they want to target. Theyve also senttheir scouts through each level of their minor league system to evaluate theirown prospects.
I did hear that the Giants heavily scouted the Cubs andRoyals Triple-A clubs a couple weeks back. So take that for whatever itsworth.
My expectation, based on everything I hear, is that theGiants probably wont part with the necessary package of prospects to get atop-flight closer such as Huston Street or Francisco Rodriguez. If the pricedrops on Jonathan Broxton, theyd be interested, though.
Emmanuel Burriss knows he might be on borrowed time as theGiants look for roster upgrades. But theres no reason he cant enjoyThursdays two-hit game that included an RBI single and a stolen base.
Its a tough situation but were winning ballgames, saidBurriss, who only starts when Ryan Theriot needs a rest. When Boch puts me inthere, Ill try to do as much as I can. The way the team is clicking, everyoneis doing their best to help out.
Its never easy to have a bench composed of several young oryoung-ish players, all of whom can hear the clock ticking as their 20s rollalong while they sit on the bench, unable to compile the stats that could makethem a comfortable salary. Nate Schierholtz has dealt with the frustration foryears, and now hes reached the point where hes finally willing to go publicwith it.
Madison Bumgarner allowed two solo home runs while takingthe loss. He leads the staff with 14 homers allowed. Its already two more thanhe gave up last year.
And yet Bumgarner got 10 ground outs compared to just two inthe air.
So what happened on those two pitches to Freddie Freeman andDavid Ross?
I wanted the fastball to Freeman away and it was middle,Bumgarner said. The other was a full count to Ross. I threw him a lot ofcutters in and thought a change-up would be a good pitch. It was outside, butup, and he did a good job of keeping his hands back.
Overall, Bumgarner said he was pleased with how he pitched.And the Giants, despite being wasteful on offense (led by Angel Pagan, who was0-for-4 with three strikeouts while leaving runners three times), had to bepleased with the result in Atlanta.
Hard to believe the Giants have played 19 regular-seasonseries at Turner Field, and this is just the second one theyve captured.
I think everybody feels good about what we did here,Bumgarner said. This is a good team, and they always play us tough.
Now it's on to Philly, where Friday night's weather forecast looks something like this.