EXTRA BAGGS: Huff, Pill feeling left out


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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

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.

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — During his season managing Barry Bonds, Bruce Bochy watched the slugger get intentionally walked 43 times. 

“There were (managers) who had the (signal) up before he even got to the batter’s box,” Bochy said Wednesday. 

That’s part of the reason Bochy is completely on board with a new rule stating that managers only have to signal for an intentional walk. The elimination of the four pitches has been approved by MLB and the MLBPA, with the caveat that a manager can change his mind in the middle of the plate appearance. 

“I’m fine with it,” Bochy said. “I know a few pitchers are happy because they kind of have a thing about throwing (those pitches), not on our team, but last year it happened to us and we didn’t go. I’m fine with it.”

It’s rare that an intentional ball would go to the backstop, but the Giants experienced it last year against the Yankees. Dellin Betances threw wide as he tried to put Brandon Crawford on and Angel Pagan didn’t react quickly enough to score from third. 

Bochy met with league officials last week to go over some of the new rules and ideas, and he said he wants MLB to keep pushing to cut the time of games. 

“We talk about it so much but we really haven’t done a lot,” Bochy said. “I’m all for (limiting mound visits). I’m all for it, I am. It’s gotten more and more popular in the game. It used to be the catcher, and now it’s the catcher and infielders, and they go to the mound and come back and then the pitching coach goes out there.”

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE: Bochy said Madison Bumgarner is currently slated to start Friday’s Cactus League opener, with Matt Cain also throwing an inning. Ty Blach will start Saturday, Matt Moore and Tyler Beede will pitch Sunday, and Jeff Samardzija will start Monday. It’s possible that 18 or 20 different pitchers will take the mound over the first two days since almost all of them will be scheduled for just three outs. With the exception of Will Smith, every projected Giant should see the field this weekend. Hunter Pence is the only guy who has been held back at all, but his intercostal issue has cleared up. Pence put several on the left-field berm during BP on Wednesday.

“Hunter wants to (play Friday). He's ready to go,” Bochy said. “I’ll make that call tomorrow once I talk to the staff, but Hunter assured me he’s a full go with no limitations, and he really wants to play.”

PROSPECT WATCH: Bochy took the van over to the minor league facility to watch some of the projected Triple-A players take part in live BP. Jae-gyun Hwang hit a homer off Jose Dominguez during his session. 

“He’s a guy that rotates (well) and he’s got good power,” Bochy said. “He can go the other way. He’s got some bat control. He’s got a nice swing.”

Over on the main field, Gorkys Hernandez hit an impressive homer to left-center. 

ICYMI: From this morning, Smith is being held out of workouts. Reporters spoke to him in the afternoon and he said there’s no concern. Also, here’s a podcast with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Subscribe on iTunes if you haven’t … there’s a very popular Giant coming soon.

QUOTABLE: Smith missed time last season because he tore a knee ligament while taking his shoe off, so this spring’s speed bump is somewhat easier to take. He had a message for the trainers: “I said I’m going to sit down every day this spring,” when I take my shoes off.

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK -- There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."