EXTRA BAGGS: Huff, Pill feeling left out

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EXTRA BAGGS: Huff, Pill feeling left out

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Aubrey Huff started in left field Fridaynight and got in a full evening of standing around.

He didnt get a play for six innings. Finally, in the sixth,Michael Young and Nelson Cruz grounded singles through the left side. Huffretrieved them, which wasnt the most strenuous activity.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy wants to gauge Huffs ability inleft field. Brett Pill, too. But hes having a hard time evaluating them. Theyjust havent been getting chances to make plays.

Consider Pill. He entered Friday night having played 17innings in left field. And for his trouble? Hed retrieved two ground singlesand watched three home runs fly over his head.

The other day I come out and (minor leaguer) James Simmonsgoes in for me, Pill said. First ball is a line drive to left field. He madea diving catch.

I woulda had it.

Wouldnt you know it? Pill replaced Huff after six innings,and in the eighth, he finally received a fly ball in his direction. EngelBeltre hit a line drive and Pill made a nice, running catch.

Pill handled two more fly balls in the ninth, too.

See? You just need to hang around for all nine innings. Maybe Huff will do that Saturday. He's scheduled to start in left field again for the home split squad against Colorado.

"I want to get him some action before we leave here," Bochy said.

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Madison Bumgarner gave up eight hits in 5 23 innings, but facingthe Texas Rangers A lineup, he did a fine job pitching out of jams. Thatssomething he has struggled to do in the past. This time, he put the tourniqueton one of the leagues best hitting teams and ended up yielding just one run.

Oh, he pitched great, Bochy said. He had good stuff. Heshad a good spring. And thats a tough game. They had their whole lineup outthere.

Bumgarner does pretty well against the Rangers. I can thinkof one Halloween night start, in particular.

He said he wanted to work on throwing fastballs down andaway a spot he hasnt always been able to hit this spring. Mostly, though, heis throwing downhill, as they say, and getting plenty of movement and life onhis pitches.

In the end, it was feeling really good, Bumgarner said.But if you give this team a lot of fastballs, theyll get their hits. Itsprobably the best hitting lineup out of anybodys, I think.

Bumgarner, who will occupy a prime position as the teamsNo.2 starter, pronounced himself as close to ready as I can be.

Buster Posey came away feeling like the big 22-year-old willbe ready to carry such an important place in the rotation in between TimLincecum and Matt Cain.

Hes got a better understanding of his preparation beforethe game, even on days hes not pitching, Posey said. Hes always, alwaysbeen focused, but now its even more so. He really has an idea what he wants todo and what he wants to accomplish out there.

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A nice inning for Sergio Romo. Three up, three down and astrikeout. He threw a couple of Romoesque sliders. Looks like the rest did hiselbow good.

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Ryan Vogelsong is on the schedule to pitch Monday. Hellthrow 40 pitches. Not sure if thatll come in the major league exhibitionagainst the Royals or if itll be on the minor league side.

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Ive noticed that Giants catchers are making lots and lotsof pickoff throws this spring. Clearly, thats one of the little things thatBruce Bochy is stressing in this camp.

Chris Stewart pegged a runner at third base the other day.Buster Posey tried it in the third inning Friday night, and ended up committinga throwing error.

Even if the throws dont result in bonus outs, its a goodthing to show opposing scouts. Theyll write up their reports and mention to bealert for snap throws from behind the plate.

Thats one way to shorten up anopponents secondary leads.

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This is the time in spring when the days really begin todrag. Considering the Giants have scored one run the past two nights, maybe theevenings can drag, too.

I think there should be something else on the schedule tobreak it up. Battle of the Network Stars. Jousting with those giant Q-tipthings from American Gladiators. Anything.

Feats of strength would be fun, though. How about asingle-elimination tug o war tournament? I asked Brandon Belt to pick his No.1seed. He took Pablo Sandoval. I took Bumgarner. (Apparently, Pilldead-lifts people to shame in the weight room, Belt said.)

Dig in those heels, Mike Fontenot. And good luck.

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

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USATSI

Dusty chooses son's graduation over Nationals game against Padres

WASHINGTON — Dusty Baker will miss the Washington Nationals weekend series against the San Diego Padres to attend his son Darren’s graduation.

Baker said he will rejoin Washington when it begins a three-game series in San Francisco on Monday, near Baker’s offseason home. Bench coach Chris Speier will assume managerial duties against the Padres.

Baker’s son Darren is graduating from Jesuit High School in Carmichael, California. He’s committed to play college baseball at Cal.

As a 3-year-old bat boy, Darren was rescued from a potential home plate collision by J.T. Snow in Game 5 of the 2002 World Series between Baker’s Giants and the Angels.

Giants notes: 'Disappointing' road trip; Nuñez hopes to return Friday

Giants notes: 'Disappointing' road trip; Nuñez hopes to return Friday

CHICAGO — As they packed up at AT&T Park eight days ago, the Giants talked of taking their momentum on the road. It sounded pie-in-the-sky given the way they had played in April and on the previous trip, but when they took the first two in St. Louis, players started to believe they had finally turned the corner. 

And then came a Sunday loss, and three of four at Wrigley Field. There was no happy flight Thursday. The Giants lost 5-1, again looking flat against a less-than-elite pitcher, and ended up with a 3-4 trip. They’ll finish the first two months of the season without a winning road trip. They're 9-19 away from AT&T Park. 

“It’s disappointing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Once you win the first one here, you’re hoping you get greedy and take the series, but we didn’t. That’s disappointing.”

The Giants entered the road trip with a 6.62 starters’ ERA on the road, but pitching wasn’t the issue. Sure there were too many meatballs — most of the 10 Cubs homers in this series came on pitches left right over the fat part of the plate — but the starters did their job. The lineup couldn’t keep up. The Giants had just five hits Thursday and finished the trip with 24 runs in seven games. They started the trip nine games out in the West and finished 11 back of the Rockies, their largest deficit since 2013. 

“You come here and take the first game with our (top) guys throwing after that and you’re hoping for a better result,” Jeff Samardzija said. “We started out good and that St. Louis series puts you in a good spot to salvage the trip. We’ll go home now with six solid games on our home turf and they’re six big games for us.”

The Braves and Nationals come to town. The Giants will see Jaime Garcia on Friday, followed by Mike Foltynewicz and R.A. Dickey. 

--- Samardzija’s run without a walk ended at 154 batters when Ian Happ drew a free pass in the seventh. The streak was the best of Samardzija’s career. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said he got treatment on a tight hamstring throughout the game and he’ll go in early Friday to continue treatment. He hopes to start Friday. 

--- Christian Arroyo was hitless in three at-bats, dropping his average to .191. Before the game, Bochy talked at length about Arroyo’s recent struggles and the plan with him going forward. 

--- If you missed it earlier, I took a tour of the visiting bullpen here. After going in there, I talked to some more pitchers about what they don’t like. It seems to mostly be the fact that you’re separated from the game. One said some of the relievers who pitched Monday had no idea it was raining because they had been getting loose inside for several innings. Seems like there’s a pretty easy fix here: The Cubs can just turn part of that Under Armour wall into a chain-link fence, or have some sort of window that opens up to the outside but doesn’t interfere with outfielders. Maybe next year …