EXTRA BAGGS: Don't expect return of Ross the Boss, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Don't expect return of Ross the Boss, etc.

NASHVILLE – From several angles, Cody Ross would appear to be a perfect fit to rejoin the Giants.

He remains hugely popular from his magical postseason in 2010. He’s a right-handed hitting outfielder. And the Giants would like to acquire a platoon partner for Gregor Blanco in left field.

But it wouldn’t be a perfect fit for Ross, who wants a multiyear contract with an everyday role. And obviously, in a platoon, the right-handed hitter always gets the short end.

So don’t expect Ross the Boss to return.

“Many of these guys aren’t going to sign for a platoon,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans said. “If you’re going to make a multiyear commitment, are you really going to platoon him?

“I wouldn’t rule it out, but we’re looking at one-year deals.”

That likely will preclude them from signing Scott Hairston, who is attracting a lot of interest as he holds out for a deal similar to the two-year, $10 million contract the Red Sox gave to Jonny Gomes.

And although the Giants made a strong two-year offer for Ryan Ludwick, it was contingent on talks falling apart with second baseman Marco Scutaro. Once Scutaro agreed to his three-year, $20 million deal, the Ludwick dollars disappeared.

Nick Swisher? He expects to be in a whole other bracket.

With the Giants already bumping up against their payroll ceiling in the $140 million range, they expect to start the season with Blanco as the starting left fielder – a stance they feel able to make because of the defensive value he brings to their pitching staff.

Barring an abrupt change, the Giants’ key personnel are set for 2013.

“You’re never really done, but certainly, the starting lineup and rotation and top end of our bullpen has been set and that’s very satisfying,” said Evans, who was able to re-sign center fielder Angel Pagan and left-hander Jeremy Affeldt in addition to Scutaro. “Brian (Sabean) and Bruce (Bochy) had a clear vision of what they wanted to happen, and didn’t take for granted that it would. Those players had options and perhaps even options beyond where we were.”

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The Giants fell in love with Scutaro’s attitude and clubhouse presence as much as his unbelievable run as the No.2 hitter.

They appreciate him even more now. From what I’ve been told, Scutaro’s agents came to the Giants early in the offseason and told them that a three-year, $20 million contract would get it done.

The Giants preferred a two-year structure. Meanwhile, Scutaro’s agents fielded other offers and the money went up and up. He had a two-year offer for close to $18 million from the Cardinals, who went as far as to arrange Matt Holliday to give Scutaro a call in case there were any lingering hard feelings from his takeout slide in the NLCS. I’m not sure that call was ever made, though, as the Giants sweetened their offer to three years and $20 million.

That’s a far lower average annual value, obviously, and there was some doubt whether Scutaro would accept it. But just as Scutaro’s agents promised, three and twenty got it done.

Scutaro was good to his word.

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John Shea of the San Francisco Chronicle flagged down the year-by-year on Scutaro’s contract: He gets a $2 million signing bonus and $6 million in each of the next three seasons.

You’ll recall that Angel Pagan received a $5 million signing bonus as part of his four-year, $40 million deal. That money is not deferred and payable immediately.

Expect more players and agents to request front-loaded contracts with a signing bonus, and the reason is simple: The fiscal cliff is looming, President Obama has vowed to increase taxes on the wealthy, and most of these players are very much among the 1 percent.

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All indications are that the Giants will not seek to re-sign right-hander Guillermo Mota. They would like to add more relief depth, though.

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A lot of people ask me which Giants minor leaguers could make the opening-day roster or make an impact early in the season. I think you’d have to look in the outfield, where the Giants’ depth is likely to be tested. Roger Kieschnick showed that his shoulder is healthy in the Dominican winter league, and Francisco Peguero, while not a finished product, is a right-handed hitter with all the tools to be a plus defender with surprising power. Peguero still has the best bat speed of anyone in the Giants farm system.

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Dodgers GM Ned Colletti, asked about the Giants on CSN Bay Area: “It’s part of our mission to not let them keep winning.”

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There is a dearth of catching in the league, as illustrated by the fact that Eli Whiteside has been claimed on waivers twice this offseason (by the Yankees and then the Blue Jays).

So it stands to reason that Jackson Williams and Johnny Monell could be the Giants minor leaguers most liable to be snagged in the Rule 5 draft on Thursday. Monell, a left-handed hitter whose bat is much more valuable than his defense, is having a terrific season in the Puerto Rican winter league, too.

A week ago, the Giants signed 31-year-old catcher Guillermo Quiroz to a minor league contract. He has played in 103 games over parts of eight major league seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles and Red Sox.

Sounds like a modern-day Yamid Haad.

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On Tuesday, A's insider Casey Pratt and I both accepted the challenge and worked in an "I reckon" into our TV appearances from Nashville. Casey outdid me by getting in two of 'em. He would've been tough to beat in "Name That Tune."

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.