EXTRA BAGGS: Villalona optioned to Single-A, etc.

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EXTRA BAGGS: Villalona optioned to Single-A, etc.

MESA, Ariz. Angel Villalona still doesnt have his workvisa to travel to the United States. If and when he arrives, hell find alocker waiting for him in minor league camp.

The Giants optioned Villalona to Single-A San Jose onFriday, which is more or less a procedural move. Even if he had been able toreport three weeks ago as scheduled, the Giants had planned to keep him inextended spring training while he works himself back into baseball shape.

Its anyones guess when (or if) the U.S. Consulate willclear the slugging first baseman to restart his pro career. He hasnt played a game since 2009,when he was given leave to return to the Dominican and was charged in the fatalshooting of Mario Felix de Jesus Velete in a bar in his hometownof La Romana.

The charges were dropped late last year,although Villalona reportedly paid a settlement to the victims family.

The Giants gave Villalona a 2.1 millionbonus as a 16-year-old in 2006.

Villalonas visa is being held up because he hasntdemonstrated his physical fitness to qualify as an elite athlete, according to what the Giants have been told. Its a hangup the club hasnt experienced before, and they've dealt with thousands of these applications.

My rather obvious speculation: The U.S. Consulate wants tojustify keeping a suspected murderer from entering the country, and this is howtheyre doing it.

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Sergio Romo didn't pitch Friday and he isn't on the list to pitch in either split squad Saturday. Manager Bruce Bochy told the Chronicle's John Shea that Romo's elbow is "a little cranky," but not believed to be a major deal.

Romo deals with elbow soreness almost every spring. At this stage, he'll need to bounce back quickly, though.

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You know your team wont have a good year when the springtraining program features the general manager on the cover. I guess the Cubsshould be used to it, though.

The Giants beat them 3-2 in a rather tidy afternoon affairat Ho Ho Kam Park, and Gregor Blanco is really slacking off. He was 0-for-3,dropping his average to .438.

RECAP: Surkamp goes four, Giants top Cubs 3-2

All kidding aside, Blanco does something every day to getnoticed. This time, it was a stomach-sliding catch on a sinking line drive incenter field.

Hes had quite a spring, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.Hes opened up everybodys eyes.

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Nice game for Eli Whiteside after he replaced Buster Poseyto start the bottom of the sixth. Whiteside hosed both Starlin Castro andAnthony Rizzo trying to steal third base.

BAGGARLY: Posey pleased after catching five, running bases

Whiteside has to show that his elbow is improved and hesthrowing better to bases in order to win the backup catcher competition withChris Stewart.

Why the Cubs were trying to steal third base twice whiletrailing by a run, I couldnt tell you. Maybe ask the GM.

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Emmanuel Burriss stole a base and was caught stealing once,although it really shouldnt have been scored that way. He tried to advance ona ball that got away from the catcher. By rule, he wasnt trying to steal butadvance.

No matter. The Giants lead the majors with 20 stolen basesthis spring. Theyve also been caught 13 times.

This is an area where Mr. Dwight Randolph Winn might be ofmajor assistance. Hes in camp as a special instructor and loving it. He toldme just putting the uniform on again is a thrill, and working with minorleaguers has been a great experience.

Winn always ran well during his playing career, but itwasnt until his later years that he turned into one of the most efficientbaserunners in the game. He was 25 for 27 in 2008. The following year, he was16 for 18. Even in 2010, when he struggled for the Yankees and Cardinals, heswiped six bases without getting nabbed.

Plus, hey, hes Randy Winn. They dont make them anyclassier.

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If not for Blancos catch, Pablo Sandoval and Aubrey Huffwouldve had the best defensive play of the game. Sandoval charged a slowroller and Huff made an expert pick of a wide, skipping throw. The Cubs had arunner on third base and two outs, so the play certainly saved a run.

Sandoval showed off some pretty impressive wheels whilescoring from second base on Huffs whistling single to left field, too. Theball was hit hard and reached the left fielder quickly, yet Sandoval still slidinto the plate well ahead of the balls arrival.

No, these do not look like your 2011 Giants.

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If you missed my announcement on Twitter earlier today, Imnow allowed to reveal that I achieved a lifelong goal of appearing as acontestant on Jeopardy! (Which explains my absence earlier this week.) Myepisode will air on July 20.

I cant tell you any more than that, except it went by in ablur and Ive never been so nervous in my life. And at least from what Iremember, it was a lot of fun.

Giants release veteran infielder Gordon Beckham upon his request

Giants release veteran infielder Gordon Beckham upon his request

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants released veteran infielder Gordon Beckham on Thursday. Beckham had requested his release after being told he would not make the Opening Day roster.

The veteran infielder was in camp in hopes of winning a backup infield job, but in a crowded field, he was not headed for a spot. The Giants like Beckham's glove and love his presence in the clubhouse, but they're looking for bigger bats on their bench. Aaron Hill and Jae-gyun Hwang are among the newcomers who were ahead of Beckham on the depth chart.

"As is his right, he requested and was granted his release so he could look for other opportunities," general manager Bobby Evans said. "We were up against the clock. We needed to let him know where things stood. There are a number of (other) options here."

Beckham hit .217 with the Braves last season before being acquired by the Giants in the final week of the season. He would have been due a $100,000 bonus on March 28. The Giants were preparing to release him before that date.

Posey describes WBC: ‘Some of the most fun baseball I’ve ever played’

Posey describes WBC: ‘Some of the most fun baseball I’ve ever played’

Buster Posey already has three World Series rings to his name. And after Team USA's 8-0 win over Puerto Rico Wednesday night, Posey can add 2017 World Baseball Classic champion to his ever-evolving list of accomplishments. 

On Thursday, Posey went to Instagram to show how much he truly enjoyed his time with Team USA. 

Posey wrote: "Great experience playing in the WBC! Some of the most fun baseball I've ever played!"

Great experience playing in the WBC! Some of the most fun baseball I've ever played! 🇺🇸#teamusa #wbc2017

A post shared by Buster Posey (@busterposey) on

To preserve the catcher's health, manager Jim Leyland rotated Posey and Texas Rangers catcher Jonathan Lucroy every other game, playing four each.

Posey finished the 2017 WBC hitting .267/.313/.667 and tied for the team lead with two home runs while driving in four runs.