EXTRA BAGGS: Sanchez could make debut at 2B Friday

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EXTRA BAGGS: Sanchez could make debut at 2B Friday

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. The Giants reassigned Heath Hembree tominor league camp after Tuesdays game. But expect him to resurface sometime ata major league ballpark near you.

Hembree had a dynamite first big league camp. Theright-hander showed good command with his upper-90s fastball and slider,posting a 1.50 ERA and striking out seven in six innings. He ended hisexperience on a good note, getting three quick fly outs in a scoreless eighthinning Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields.

BAGGARLY: Giants spring progress report

Earlier this spring, Hembree told me he hoped to be asconsistent as possible and throw strikes while trying to learn as much as hecould from big leaguers. He obviously didnt have an opportunity to win a jobin the bullpen. Everyone returns from last years top-flight group, with theexception of Ramon Ramirez. But when the Giants need another arm, itll be hardto keep Hembree off the roster if he keeps punching tickets in the minors.

Because hes not on the 40-man roster, Hembree can bebrought back to pitch in more major league exhibitions. So Id imagine we haventseen the last of him in Cactus League action.

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Freddy Sanchez will play catch Wednesday and is likely totake infield on Thursday. Its possible he could play second base in a gameFriday, manager Bruce Bochy said.

Thats not an aggressive schedule, obviously, which makes it even harder to envision Sanchez beginning the season on the active roster.

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Sergio Romo threw a side session and said his right elbowwas improved. He hopes to throw in a game soon. According to all parties, thiswas a mild issue and Romo, given a little rest, is expected to be OK to startthe season.

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Nate Schierholtz said his right forearm stiffened up on hima week ago and he needed to give it a break. Strangely enough, it bothers him more when he swings thanwhen he throws.

The off day (Monday) helped a lot, he said. I feel good,but I need to be healthy to play. If this were the season, itd be a differentstory.

Spring training games are meaningless, so backing off isalmost always the smart thing to do. But when you have a reputation for nagginginjuries as Schierholtz does, its never good to miss time in the eyes ofmanagement.

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The emergence of Gregor Blanco continues. He stole two morebases, lifting his major league leading total to nine.

It looks as if Angel Pagan might be starting to feel alittle pressure. He was 0 for 4 and struck out in his first three at-bats,dropping his average to .243. Pagan will enter the season as the startingcenter fielder, and because hes entering his walk year, itll cost him a lotof money if hes not playing every day.

No, Blanco will not take Pagans starting job here inArizona. The Giants just traded two players they liked to get Pagan. But a few weeks into the season, if the pattern holds, itmight be a different story.

For now, Bochy is being patient with Pagan.

Hes still searching a little bit, Bochy said. Thatsfair to say. But thats why were here. I think Angel is going to be fine.

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Bochy is likely to have the same thought with Aubrey Huff atfirst base. The big question is what the Giants will do with Brandon Belt, whois having a good camp. Bochy said both of them, and Brett Pill, have done agood job thus far.

Theres no separation to this point, Bochy said.

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Barry Zito did not have a good outing Tuesday. In fiveinnings, he allowed seven hits and walked four. That is not good for the olWHIP. But Zito got better as he went, he induced one double-play grounder andhe walked off the mound with the Giants tied 3-3.

Thats the quota the Giants are setting for him this seasonas a back-of-the-rotation starter.

I like what Ive seen from Barry this spring, Bochy said.Hes made some adjustments -- during his start today, actually and he threwthe ball better.

Zito said he is still more comfortable out of the stretch than the windup, but it's getting better.

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Arizona outfielder Gerardo Parra hit a home run off Zito,and if rumors are true, he could be on the trading block. I know several Giantsplayers who would be happy to see him leave the NL West.

That guy is a player, one Giant told me.

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This was my first time seeing Arizonas Trevor Bauer on themound. I just wish I hadnt gotten stuck in the parking lot snarl so Icouldve watched him warm up, too. He throws from foul pole to foul pole whilegetting loose. It takes a couple of relay throws to return the baseball to him.

Bauer was the third overall pick out of UCLA last June andhe certainly throws hard. He was topping out at 96 mph against the Giants.

Brandon Crawford, a fellow Bruin, managed a single up themiddle against him. Crawford also said he had two hits off Bauer in a UCLAalumni game.

Ambushed him, Crawford said, obviously pleased with himself.

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An equipment company set up a sizing display in theclubhouse this morning. There were a dozen helmets in various sizes for theplayers to try on. There was even a size 8, but I dont think anyone touchedit. Probably just there so Bochy doesnt feel so abnormal.

Actually, Bochy wears an 8 18 cap now. So even that jumbohelmet wouldve been a tight squeeze.

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will return to camp Thursday, show off their WBC championship medals, and then head to nearby Salt River Fields to take on the Colorado Rockies. It'll be a few more days, however, before the Giants have their full infield on the field. 

Eduardo Nuñez said he actually got two cortisone shots in his right shoulder, since an MRI this week showed “something” in two separate spots. Nuñez asked for the MRI because, while he was able to play and make strong throws, he felt pain on a daily basis. He might DH this weekend, but it'll be a few more days before he's cleared to begin throwing. 

The Giants are hopeful that the shots calm all this down, and Nuñez anticipated being ready for Opening Day. Still, it certainly sounds like this will be a close call. Conor Gillaspie, who is having a huge spring, could get plenty of early time at third. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn't anticipate Nuñez missing Opening Day.

"He should be ready," Bochy said. 

The Giants need all the good injury news they can get. It is expected that Will Smith will announce Friday that he's having Tommy John surgery. 

ICYMI: From this morning, a feature on George Kontos and his rise over the last few years. 

Also, one of the bench candidates, Gordon Beckham, asked for his release. The Giants will soon have to make decisions on Hill and David Hernandez, who have similar retention bonuses due March 28.

GAME RECAP: The Giants played one of their uglier games of the spring, losing 9-2 to King Felix and the Mariners … Matt Moore lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. It was the same old thing: Moore just all of a sudden lost his command, and because he got up past the 30-pitch mark in the second inning alone, the Giants cut it off. Moore went down to the bullpen and got up to around 80 pitches. He'll make one more start down here, Tuesday against the Cubs ... Joe Panik had a hard double, one of just four hits for the Giants … Chris Marrero hasn’t played a whole lot of left field this spring, and he didn’t show much to the coaches on a couple of opportunities to throw home. The left field situation remains a mystery. 

POSITION BATTLES: Kelby Tomlinson played six innings of left field in a minor league game, and he had to wait until the sixth to get his first and only fly ball. There seemed to be a lot of interest from decision-makers about how Tomlinson fared, and his action today opens up an intriguing possibility. There’s a roster permutation that has the Giants keeping just one reserve outfielder (Gorkys Hernandez) and three backup infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson, with the latter two being options in left field. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Angel Pagan made it through the WBC healthy, and he apparently is drawing interest from the Phillies and Blue Jays. Giants people are confident Pagan will get a big league job somewhere over the coming week. 

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

Giants reliever Will Smith leaning toward season-ending Tommy John surgery

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Left-hander Will Smith, a key piece of a revamped bullpen, is leaning toward having Tommy John surgery, manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday night. 

Bochy said surgery was the recommendation of both doctors who examined Smith's elbow this week. Smith will talk to his agent before coming to a final decision on Friday. The procedure would keep Smith out the entire 2017 season and likely would cause him to miss the start of the 2018 season.

Smith, 27, missed the first month of camp because of pain in his throwing elbow. He returned March 17, but during a March 20 outing he again felt pain and called for a trainer. A second round of diagnostics revealed a strain and a sprain in the elbow. Smith saw team orthopedist Dr. Ken Akizuki in San Francisco and flew to Los Angeles this week to get a second opinion from Dr. Neal ElAttrache of the Kerlen-Jobe Clinic. 

"They had the same opinion," Bochy said. "There is a tear there. You can try to rehab it and if that doesn't work you're behind a couple of months ... It's not a definite he's going to have it done, but two doctors are in agreement on what this is."

Smith was expected to serve as the late lefty for the Giants, getting setup work in the seventh and eighth innings. With Smith out, the Giants will lean on young lefties Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Ty Blach. 

"We're going to have to have someone step up and help us in the seventh and eighth," Bochy said. "That was going to be will's role. He's a guy we were leaning on."

Smith was acquired from the Brewers at the deadline last season in exchange for right-hander Phil Bickford (who is currently serving a 50-game suspension) and catcher Andrew Susac (who is currently injured). After a shaky start, he finished the regular season with 18 consecutive scoreless appearances. 

The Giants have for the most part avoided Tommy John for 40-man roster pitchers. Hunter Strickland, Derek Law and Josh Osich have all had it during their time in the organization, along with outfielder Mac Williamson. Prospect Ian Gardeck is currently recovering from Tommy John. The last Giants pitcher who was likely headed for the roster before having Tommy John was left-hander Eric Surkamp. He had surgery in 2012.

The timetable is different for every pitcher, but the general consensus is that the procedure sidelines a pitcher for at least a year, and usually closer to 16 months. Matt Moore, Thursday night’s starter, had Tommy John on April 23, 2014. He did not return to a big league mound until July 2, 2015, and even then, he was under restrictions. 

Smith is under team control for two more seasons after this one.