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.