EXTRA BAGGS: Huff speeds toward playoff roster spot, etc.


EXTRA BAGGS: Huff speeds toward playoff roster spot, etc.

SAN FRANCISCO Brandon Crawford wore a puzzled expressionas a reporter approached him Sunday afternoon.

I didnt play today, he said.

Well, sure he did. He pinch-ran for Aubrey Huff. Theres aspecial kind of pressure and preparation that comes with that, isnt there?

INSTANT REPLAY: Padres 6, Giants 4

I only had a minute to prepare, Crawford said. But evenif I didnt have a minute, Id still be faster. You can quote me. Im sick,unprepared and with a semi-tight hamstring, and Im still faster.

When it comes to comedy gold, Huffs balky running is24-karat. He wears a T-shirt under his batting practice jersey that says, FASTERTHAN ____.

He turned another double into a single Sunday, hitting ashot off the right field bricks in the ninth inning.

But no joke: There's little doubt Huff would be on the playoff roster if Giantsmanager Bruce Bochy had to pick his 25 guys today.

Well, you have to like his at-bats, Bochy said of Huff,who is 5 for 9 with two walks and just one strikeout as a pinch hitter since comingoff the DL on Sept. 1. Hes doing a great job with that. Its so valuable fora club to have a good left-handed pinch hitter, especially against a closerwith the game on the line.

The Giants dont have to make decisions until they knowtheir opponent in an NL Division Series, and that will have some influence. TheCincinnati Reds have a left-handed closer in Aroldis Chapman, as well as aleft-handed setup man in Sean Marshall.

Then there is the question of a pinch runner. Huff mightrequire two roster spots, since his knee which he injured June 13 when hetripped over the dugout rail in the immediate wake of Matt Cains perfect game --continues to be an issue.

There may be times I dont pinch run for him, Bochy said. Butwe have a nice quality at-bat when he goes up there, and thats something wellhave to think hard about.

The Giants know better than to give up on a gimpy veteran.If they ever happen to forget, Edgar Renteria can haul out his World Series MVPtrophy as a reminder.

Who knows? Maybe Francisco Peguero can make the postseasonroster as Huffs designated pinch runner. He certainly impressed with twostolen bases Sunday. Peguero said his right knee, which he injured two springsago, is finally feeling 100 percent and hes running better than at any timethis season.

Clay Hensley didnt have a very good outing on Sunday, butits been a darn good weekend for him. He left the club on Friday for the birthof a baby daughter, Lily, and then made it back in time to celebrate with theteam in Saturday.

Didnt have a chance to talk to Tim Lincecum all day today.I hoped to track him down after the game, but he put on rather sizableheadphones and didnt slow down when a reporter tried to call after him

We'll have to wait until after his start on Tuesday to get his thoughts on missing the clinching moment and the celebration.

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

The Giants look to win two straight against the Braves and Bruce Bochy has made a few changes to the lineup Sunday.

Atlanta Braves (21-26)

1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
8. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
9. R.A. Dickey (R) P

San Francisco Giants (21-30)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P

Belt relates to Arroyo's benching in slump: 'It doesn’t need to be bad thing'

Belt relates to Arroyo's benching in slump: 'It doesn’t need to be bad thing'

SAN FRANCISCO — At this point Bruce Bochy has had plenty of experience working young infielders into his everyday lineup, so he knew exactly which move to turn to when Christian Arroyo dropped into a wicked slump.

With Arroyo hitless in his last 21 at-bats, Bochy sat him Saturday night against the Braves. His plans could always change, of course, but Bochy said he planned to sit Arroyo at least one more game. It’s a move he used most notably in 2013 to help Brandon Belt get back on track.

Belt was in a 1-for-19 rut when Bochy kept him out of the starting lineup for an entire series in Philadelphia. He had just one pinch-hit appearance, but he returned for the opener of the next series in Tampa Bay, notching three hits and a homer. Belt batted .346 the rest of the way.

Asked about that experience and Arroyo's current one, Belt at first made a different point.

“Arroyo has actually been really good for us,” he said. “That road trip we just had, we faced a lot of really good pitchers. There’s nothing for him to hang his head about.”

Belt has actually had several “clear your head” breaks over the years.

“It allows you to reset a little, and with the pressure, you can release that a little bit,” he said. “For me (in 2013) it forced me to make (mechanical) changes and when you have time off you see everything more clearly. You can make changes or go back to something that was working for you before. He shouldn’t look at this as a timeout. It doesn’t need to be a bad thing. You can make adjustments and it can be a good thing.”

Bochy originally planned to rest Arroyo on Thursday in Chicago, but Eduardo Nuñez’s hamstring needed a day. Arroyo started at second Friday against a lefty but got the full night off Saturday. With Conor Gillaspie sidelined for several more days by a tight back and Hunter Pence out the rest of the homestand, there's time for the Giants to contemplate what they want to do going forward.

“We’ll get this sorted out,” Bochy said. “We’ve (worked) him pretty hard. This is to give him a chance to catch his breath, get his mind right, and work on some things.”