EXTRA BAGGS: Could Sandoval address first base woes?

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EXTRA BAGGS: Could Sandoval address first base woes?

BOX SCORE

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.

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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.

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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.

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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.

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There is no way to really ramp up the intensity when an All-Star pitcher makes an appearance in minor league camp, so Johnny Cueto instead found a way to have a bit more fun. 

While getting his work in against A-ball hitters, Cueto had a prolonged, smile-filled battle with 19-year-old Jasrado Chisholm, one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. The sequence between Cueto and the shortstop from the Bahamas: 

  • Cueto just missed with a two-strike inside fastball, so he went right back to the same spot, freezing Chisholm, who smiled and nodded at Cueto, who laughed back. 
  • The next time up, Chisholm took two vicious hacks, trying to crank a homer onto Hayden Road. He missed both breaking balls by about a foot. 
  •  Before the third pitch, Cueto yelled something at Chisholm and smiled. “I was telling him to keep his eye on the ball,” Cueto said. “Because every time he was swinging, he was taking his eye off the ball.”
  •  The advice worked. Chisholm hung in on the third pitch, lining a single to left-center. Cueto laughed and pointed his glove at the teenager. He promptly picked him off of first base. “He probably doesn’t know I have a quick move,” he said. “I was having fun with a kid who wanted to actually hit against me.”

Nobody has more fun than Cueto, even on a sun-baked minor league field. He capped his day by standing in for an at-bat of his own, and he stood and watched as a young Diamondback struck him out.

The work on the mound was just what was needed: 7 innings, 85 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 0 runs. Cueto, who missed the opening weeks of camp, is ready for the season.

“I feel strong,” he said. “I feel really good."

Injured Michael Morse will stick with Giants, work way up from Triple-A

Injured Michael Morse will stick with Giants, work way up from Triple-A

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Michael Morse isn't ready to give up on his comeback. 

Morse, sidelined by a hamstring injury, said he will continue to rehab with the organization, with the plan of eventually going to Triple-A and working his way up to the big leagues. Morse hasn't played since getting hurt March 20 in Glendale. He was initially given a two-to-three week diagnosis, but because he wants to let the strain heal completely, he anticipates missing closer to a full month. 

Morse said he's on the same page with general manager Bobby Evans. He will get healthy at the minor league facility in Scottsdale.

"I'll then go to Triple-A and play games and figure it out from there," he said. "I'm going to get healthy and play some games and if that point the team is 20-0, I know I probably won't get called up. If they need me, that'd be great."

The Giants are hopeful it works out. Before getting hurt, Morse had three spring homers and was in position to make the opening day roster. Without Morse, the Giants are light on right-handed power options for the bench.