EXTRA BAGGS: Pagan can't buy a break

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EXTRA BAGGS: Pagan can't buy a break

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. You have to believe no player wantsspring training to end more than Angel Pagan.

He had a nice little 0-for-24 streak going before he finallylined a double in the eighth inning Tuesday. He had to be the most relieved manin Maricopa County.

One pitch later, Pagan got picked off second base.

Unfortunately, he hasnt been on a lot, said Bruce Bochy,and the Giants' skipper wasnt trying to crack a joke.

Pagan batted one more time in the ninth after the Giantsmounted a rally and got the tying runs on base. He struck out looking.

A day earlier, the crowd went home buzzing after PabloSandovals walk-off homer. This time, the fans let out a loud groan.

The question was put to Bochy, and it was fair to ask: IsPagan still the opening-day center fielder and leadoff man?

Im not going to announce the lineup now, Bochy said, abit testily. In eight or nine days he could get hot and someone else could gocold. Nows not the time you write the lineup.

Now, we have a pretty good idea. But if theres anyquestion of where were going, if theres any tweaking, well give it the restof camp (to sort out).

Its hard to imagine the Giants pulling the plug on Paganthis early. But no question, they are concerned. For the second time in fivedays, he will go to minor league camp to feast on at-bats.

I see him battling himself a little, to be honest, Bochysaid. It is spring training and hes got to remember that. Weve got sometime to get guys locked in here, but as a group, were not swinging the batsfor the last five days now. We may cut back on (cage work).

The Giants have an alternative in Gregor Blanco, who ishitting .356 with a .424 on-base percentage. He also stole two more basesTuesday and leads the majors with 11. Hes been caught once.

What about Blanco? Could he start on opening day?

I cant answer that, said Bochy, adding, Hes made a lotof noise.

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This is the time when Bochy experiments with lineups, so itwas interesting to see Blanco in the No.2 spot behind Pagan. Id imagine thatspot would belong to Melky Cabrera on most days; Cabrera was getting a routineday of rest.

Bochy also gave the middle of the lineup a new wrinkle,batting Buster Posey third and Pablo Sandoval fourth. The Giants were facing aleft-handed starter so perhaps Posey will move up a spot against southpaws.

Sandoval hasnt looked great from the right side most ofthis spring. Hes been out in front of everything. While I dont think theGiants would consider any kind of platoon, its worth pointing out that BrettPill has looked serviceable while taking grounders at third base this spring.If Pill is on the roster, the Giants probably cant hope to give him an occasional start atfirst base especially with Posey getting a game or two a week to rest hislegs.

But third base could be a place to give Pill an occasionalstart against a left-handed pitcher, and to keep Sandoval fresh.

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Nate Schierholtz was given a day off, but he asked to go tominor league camp to get extra at-bats. He said he was 1 for 6 but felt he sawthe ball better.

Schierholtz is trying to hold onto the everyday right fieldjob, but hes hitting .217 this spring and has battled hip and forearm issues.

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Right-hander Dan Otero is going to make his big league debut at somepoint this season, and maybe soon. Mark it down.

He allowed a double to Albert Pujols leading off the sixthinning, but stranded him by calmly retiring Vernon Wells, Bobby Abreu and Mark Trumbo (foul pop,ground out, fly out).

Otero has a 1.12 ERA in eight appearances and hasnt walkeda batter. If theres one kind of reliever that Bochy likes, its a strikethrower.

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Ryan Theriot is wearing sunglasses at night. He has a niceshiner after getting hit in the face by a deflected ball on Monday, but hisnose returned to a normal size and hes otherwise fine.

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Trade talk is minimal, Im told. Its still very possiblethat Theriot, Mike Fontenot and Emmanuel Burriss all make the roster. JoaquinArias is a longer shot, but dont count him out, either.

Also very little to report on the Matt Cain contract front.I do expect the gulf will narrow in the next few days. Will it narrow enough toget a deal done? Well have to wait and see.

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Tim Lincecum, when asked for his perspective on springtraining as a veteran player: Im a veteran?

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Former Giant Aaron Rowand signed a minor league deal withthe Miami Marlins in part because it was a chance to play for Ozzie Guillen,his former manager with the White Sox.

Now Guillen is in a very, very awkward spot.

Rowand is 6-45 (.133) this spring with one double and nohome runs. And Guillen might have to deliver bad news to a friend.

Folks have asked the question so often that Ill repeat theanswer: The Giants are on the hook for all of Rowands 12 million salary this season,minus only the major league minimum of 480,000 if he is on the Marlins roster. Either way, Miamis decision on Rowand wont have a major fiscal impact on the Giants.

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Scottsdale Stadium fell eerily quiet during the ninthinning, when hard-throwing Santiago Casilla threw a pitch that broke JorgeCantus bat. The barrel shard flew into the stands above the third-base dugoutand struck a female fan. Two gentlemen nearby immediately took off their shirts to applypressure to her head, which was bleeding.

I have never seen this before, but the entire ballparkstopped. The Angels players all stood on the dugout top step and gazed with obvious concern.Casilla stood on the mound, clearly not ready to continue. Cantu made it clear he wasnt about to step back in the box, either. After a delay of maybe five minutes that felt more like 15, thewoman 50-year-old Kathleen Dunnivan of Bethesda, Md. got to her feet andwalked with assistance of EMTs to a stretcher. The crowd applauded her and theGiants said the report from the hospital (conveniently located next door) was that she was OK.

Later on, Giants PR man Jim Moorehead asked to borrow mypen. I found out later that he used it to have players autograph a baseball forher. Classy move.

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

BELT RIVER FIELDS, Ariz. — Earlier this spring, Brandon Belt moved his schedule around so he could get additional at-bats. That led to some random trips across the desert, but there was never any doubt Belt would be in Friday’s road lineup.

Belt demolishes the ball at Salt River Fields, spring home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. After coming out of Friday’s win, he shook his head in mock disgust when talking about the day’s stats.

“One for four, you’ve gotta be kidding me,” Belt said. “That’s terrible.”

That one happened to be a homer, a three-run shot off Jon Gray, the likely opening day starter for the Rockies. Belt thought he crushed the ball but it ended up pretty high, so it simply dropped onto the berm in right. 

“It squeaked out,” Belt said. “Good mojo, I guess.”

The mojo kept his remarkable run going at Salt River. His updated career stats here: 22 for 35, with eight homers, four doubles, one triple and 18 RBI. Belt said he’s not quite sure why he turns into the flames emoji every time he steps onto this field. 

“I don’t know what it is, but I like hitting here,” he said. “Maybe it’s the batter’s eye?”

Salt River has a dark green batter’s eye with no distractions on either side, and the Giants certainly saw the ball well Friday. They had seven straight hits in the third before Gray was pulled with a sore foot. Belt hit second, and manager Bruce Bochy said that wasn’t simply because Joe Panik had the day off. Bochy will look at several different lineup permutations over the next week, and a Span/Belt/Pence/Posey/Crawford one-through-five is one option. 

“I like (that spot) a lot,” Belt said. “I feel good getting started and knowing I’ll get to bat in the first inning. It’s a good spot. I don’t think my approach changes that much: Get a pitch to hit and try to hit it hard.”

GAME RECAP: Jeff Samardzija was sharp in four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. He threw about 45 pitches on the field and then went down to the bullpen for 45 more. Samardzija certainly benefited from having Buster Posey back in the lineup. He said Posey noticed during warmups that Samardzija’s delivery was a little flat and his arm was dragging too low. 

“That doesn’t happen often,” Samardzija said of having a guy like Posey back there. “You have a lot of catchers who are afraid to say something.”

The rest of this one was a laugher until the ninth, when the Rockies rallied and brought the winning run to the plate. It hasn’t been a great spring for the bullpen.

STOCK WATCH: Chris Marrero hit a deep homer, his seventh of the spring. He also made a nice pick at first, where he looks much more comfortable. At this point, it appears it’s either Marrero or Kelby Tomlinson for that final bench spot.

TRAINER’S ROOM: The news on Will Smith was as expected. He will have Tommy John surgery next week. 

There is good news for Trevor Brown: The catcher, who has a sore ankle, took some swings and he’s feeling much better. Brown did not, as first reported, get hurt hiking on an off day. It happened during a game. Brown won’t be ready in time to return to Cactus League action, so he’ll likely stay here during the Bay Bridge Series and then travel home with Triple-A Sacramento. 

ICYMI: Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Mark Melancon are back in camp. Here’s a story on Posey’s WBC experience, with the catcher saying he’d like to play again in four years. Here’s Crawford on his month, which ended with him giving an NL West rival a slump-busting bat. 

ROSTER UPDATE: The Giants released David Hernandez, at his request. They have started to tell others that they’re not making the opening day roster, so there should be a series of minor transactions this weekend. (You know where to go.)

QUOTABLE: "I swung at a heater and a slider went right into my bat. I was happy to be able to track (pitches), and happy that the next time the bunt didn't go off my beautiful face." -- Samardzija, when asked about his double off the wall. 

Plenty of high-profile MLB players wearing new uniforms in 2017

Plenty of high-profile MLB players wearing new uniforms in 2017

Chris Sale traded socks (AP) -- or Sox - from white to red. Edwin Encarnacion took his big bat to Cleveland. Aroldis Chapman returned to the Bronx.

Plenty of All-Stars, Cy Young winners and MVPs are wearing new uniforms this season.

The biggest move occurred when the Boston Red Sox acquired Sale from the Chicago White Sox. The five-time All-Star left-hander left a team that hasn't reached the playoffs since 2008 for one that's won three World Series titles since 2004.

Encarnacion left Toronto for the team that beat the Blue Jays in last year's ALCS. He averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs over the past five seasons in Toronto and gives the Indians a major boost.

Chapman is back in New York after spending the first half of last season with the Yankees before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs and helped them win the World Series.

Here's a 25-man roster of familiar faces in different places this season:

STARTING LINEUP

1. CF: Dexter Fowler. Jumped from World Series champion Cubs to rival St. Louis. Gives the Cardinals stability atop the batting order.

2. RF: Adam Eaton. Traded from White Sox to defending NL East champion Nationals. He'll play center field in Washington between Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper.

3. DH: Kendrys Morales. Joined Blue Jays to help fill Encarnacion's void after spending past two seasons with the Royals.

4. 1B: Encarnacion.

5. C: Brian McCann. Traded from Yankees to Astros, giving Houston's stacked lineup another slugger.

6. SS: Ian Desmond. Returns to NL to join Rockies after one season playing outfield in Texas. He'll play first base for Colorado, but he's back at shortstop on this squad.

7. LF: Matt Holliday. Signed with Yankees following 7 1/2 seasons in St. Louis. The seven-time All-Star will likely DH in New York though he'll see some action in left field.

8. 2B: Brandon Phillips. Waived no-trade clause to go to rebuilding Braves after 11 seasons with Reds.

9. 3B: Howie Kendrick. Comes east after spending his entire career in Los Angeles - nine seasons with Angels and last two with Dodgers. Kendrick is playing left field for Philadelphia but he starts at third to fill this lineup.

BENCH

1B: Chris Carter. Landed with Yankees after swatting 41 homers for Milwaukee last season to tie for NL lead.

INF: Jimmy Rollins. Former NL MVP is trying to land a roster spot with San Francisco as a utility man after playing all but one-third inning of his 17-year career at shortstop. Has bounced from Dodgers to White Sox to Giants after 15 seasons in Philadelphia.

OF: Michael Saunders. All-Star for Blue Jays last season and will start in right field for Phillies.

OF: Carlos Beltran. Returns to Houston after spending half the 2004 season with the Astros and hitting eight postseason homers for them.

C: Matt Wieters. Left Baltimore for Washington to replace All-Star Wilson Ramos, who joined Tampa Bay and is still recovering from knee surgery.

STARTING ROTATION

Sale.

Edinson Volquez. Goes from Royals to Marlins.

Jaime Garcia. Lefty joins Braves after eight seasons in St. Louis.

Jered Weaver. Stays in California, switching to Padres after 11 seasons with Angels.

R.A. Dickey. Knuckleballer returns to NL East after four seasons in Toronto. One of two 40-plus former Cy Young award winners signed by Braves.

LONG RELIEVER

Bartolo Colon. Other veteran Braves signed to bolster rotation. He'll be long man on this staff.

BULLPEN

Chapman.

Mark Melancon. Signed with Giants after finishing last season in Washington.

Sergio Romo. Went from San Francisco to rival Dodgers.

Wade Davis. Traded from Royals to Cubs to replace Chapman.

Santiago Casilla. Stays in Bay Area, going from Giants to A's.