EXTRA BAGGS: Starry snubs duel for ERA title, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Starry snubs duel for ERA title, etc.

PITTSBURGH There was a shortage of positives after thePirates James McDonald swashbuckled the Giants in a 3-1 loss Saturday. Atleast Ryan Vogelsong could dwell on this:

He isnt going to the All-Star Game, and that seems like amighty big oversight. But he is not alone. It's nothing personal.

McDonald was royally snubbed out of a trip to KansasCity, too.

The NLs three best ERAs belong to the Reds Johnny Cueto,Vogelsong and McDonald. None of the three will represent the NL on Tuesday.

Vogelsong said last week that the All-Star snub added to thechip on his shoulder and was proof yet again that nobody takes him seriously. Heseemed to be more accepting of the situation after McDonald outdueled him.

Its probably not an easy thing to do and Im sure itstough on the manager whos picking the team, Vogelsong said. Every year, guyswho deserve to go dont go. It just happens to be us three. It is what it is.Everybody he picked deserves to be there as well.

On another topic, Vogelsong said hes happy to get a breakbut hes also in a rhythm and doesnt feel like he needs a physical breather.He said his back problems, which knocked him out all spring and forced him tobegin the season on the disabled list, havent crossed his mind since hissecond start.

He doesnt get any additional treatment on his back anylonger, but he does keep to a routine that includes extra core strengtheningexercises.

During the spring, though, he did wonder how effective hedbe.

It went through my mind, he said. But you guys know how Iam on game day. I just really concentrate on throwing strikes and throwing toBusters glove.

Hell get a long layoff. Vogelsong will get at least ninedays of rest, and 10 if the Giants decide to throw Barry Zito ahead of him inthe rotation to split up the left-handers.

I feel strong, I feel in a pretty good tempo, Vogelsongsaid. I dont think the break will change that for me. I hope not.

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A few minor league notes: Infielder Conor Gillaspie is onthe DL for Triple-A Fresno with a fractured big toe and outfield prospectFrancisco Peguero also went down with a strained side muscle. No immediate wordon how long theyll be sidelined.

The Giants filled one of the Grizzlies roster vacancieswith a familiar name: Left-hander and Concord De La Salle alum Clayton Tanner.The left-hander and former top prospect signed with the Reds last year afterthe Giants took him off the 40-man roster. But the Reds recently released him,and he re-signed with his former organization.

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How hot was it in Pittsburgh? Well, Bruce Bochy wasdownright annoyed at anyone who spent more than 20 minutes on the field duringan abbreviated batting practice session.

Pirates assistant trainer and familiar face Ben Potenziano toldme that longtime organizational folks told him this weekend is the hottest theycan ever remember on the banks of the three rivers.

I had my own issues in the press box, too. At one point, mycomputer was getting so hot that the trackpad started to freak out. I had toshut down my machine, fill a towel with ice and set my laptop down on it. Whatdo you know? It worked perfectly.

Also, check my Twitter timeline for a photo of how Kruk andKuip dressed to combat the heat.

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Very sad news to pass along. Visible Giants fan Craig Appel, known to many as the Rally Pumpkin, died in an apparent suicide on Tuesday. Appel stepped in front of a train, police in North Hollywood said.

Appel was known as "Jingles" to Giants broadcasters, players and coaches. For years, he drove the team bus on trips to Los Angeles and San Diego. Friends say he'd fallen on hard times in recent years. Someone gave him a luxury suite ticket as a 50th birthday present last week but he wasn't able to pull together the funds to travel from Southern California to San Francisco.

Just a heartbreaking story. A donations page has been set up to help his family with funeral arrangements.

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the first time, Gorkys Hernandez did not go back to Venezuela in the offseason to play winter ball. He's hoping that leads to another first. 

Hernandez has never made an opening day roster, but after breaking into the Giants’ outfield rotation last season, he entered the winter in a decent shot. To bolster his case, Hernandez stayed in Scottsdale over the offseason to work out at the minor league facility. The added strength didn’t lead to any notable results over the first month of games, but Hernandez broke through Monday with three doubles in the final home game of the spring.

“Sometimes (slumps) happen and sometimes you’re late (on pitches) and you don’t feel comfortable at the plate, but now I feel different. I feel better,” Hernandez said. “I’m recognizing pitches and trying to keep it simple and not do too much.”

The coaching staff has asked several players to head down to the minor league facility late in the spring and get additional at-bats, and Hernandez took Bruce Bochy up on the offer. He twice played in minor league games, and on Sunday he rotated into different games so he could get six at-bats. Hernandez said that helped him find his timing. 

“Without question, it helped his timing,” Bochy said. “He was off. He was getting out front, his timing was off. I think the at-bats he got paid off.”

The three-double day was perfectly timed. Hernandez entered with a .159 average and Justin Ruggiano, the other option as a backup center fielder, had started to put together better at-bats. Monday’s game was a reminder in more ways than one. Hernandez showed off the type of speed the Giants won’t have on the bench if Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, and he played all three outfield positions, switching from left to right to center. 

The role in play is one Gregor Blanco had for five seasons. The Giants would like Hernandez to be their defensive whiz at every outfield spot, and they’re light on true center fielders. If the Giants put Hernandez on the roster this week as expected, he’ll be ready to try and be the new Blanco. 

“If they give me that role, I’ll try to do the same thing,” he said. “Or better.”

THE ACE: Madison Bumgarner is going to Madison Bumgarner. He threw seven sharp innings Monday, lowering his spring ERA to 2.52. In 25 innings, he has allowed just 17 hits and struck out 23. Bochy appreciated Bumgarner’s intensity Monday against a Reds team that was filled with minor leaguers. 

“That’s what makes him so good,” Bochy said. “He takes every outing seriously. His preparation doesn’t waver.”

Bumgarner even added a single, and he liked that it came on a breaking ball. He’s worked on getting better at hitting those pitches, which he’s seeing more and more. 

“I feel I’m as ready as I can be to start the season,” Bumgarner said. 

His next pitch will be thrown Sunday at Chase Field. 

GAME RECAP: The Giants blasted poor Reds starter Cody Reed, hanging 10 runs on his line in 3 2/3 innings. Denard Span had two hits and Aaron Hill had three, driving in three runs. Bochy went with an interesting lineup, leading off with Span, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. He said he likes Crawford in that five-spot. He also plans to hit the pitcher eighth on occasion.

TRAINER’S ROOM: Joe Panik was drilled by a fastball in the lower back and he came out of the game as a precaution. Panik has a nasty welt, so he’s in for a night of ice, but there are no concerns. 

QUOTABLE: Posey turned 30 today. As he walked out to stretch, Bumgarner was asked if he was giving Posey a hard time. “No, he’s been 30 for the last seven years,” Bumgarner said.