EXTRA BAGGS: Vogelsong to start Monday, offense hits wall

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EXTRA BAGGS: Vogelsong to start Monday, offense hits wall

GLENDALE, Ariz. For all the swatting they did early thisspring, the Giants have completely lost their buzz at the plate.

They look worn down, their bats look leaden and they aretrending the wrong way. All of those things are distressing for a team thatranked last in the NL in runs scored a year ago.

But Giants manager Bruce Bochy isnt terribly alarmed. Hesees a bunch of players who have reached the point of the spring where theyjust want to get out of Dodge. And many of them are banged up, too.

Several received the day off to rest and recuperate andwerent part of the ugliness of a 5-2 loss at Camelback Ranch, when White Soxright-hander Philip Humber one-hit them through seven innings.

Pablo Sandoval was among those who got a breather. Hes beendoing extra conditioning work every morning and Bochy theorized that hes beenworn out by the time games start. He hasnt reached the Giants target weight,but hes close and Bochy said its time to let the Panda focus on getting hisswing locked in. His right-handed at-bats, in particular, havent been pretty.He is way out in front of everything.

Brandon Belt also has been grinding hard. He slid on gravela few weeks ago and has remained playable, but sliding hasnt been too muchfun. He aggravated his hip and thigh on another slide Saturday.

Ryan Theriot (ankle) and Emmanuel Burriss (hamstring) alsoremain day-to-day, but both should be OK to play Monday.

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There was a very interesting end to what otherwise was anuneventful exhibition.

The Giants got the tying run to the plate with one out inthe ninth inning, so Bochy called back Conor Gillaspie and sent up catcherHector Sanchez as a pinch hitter. The White Sox had a lefty on the mound andBochy wanted to do more than get a right-handed matchup to try to win the game.

BAGGARLY: StewartWhiteside competition will go down to the wire

He wanted Sanchez to hit right-handed in a clutch spot. Are you readingthose tea leaves? It sure seems like the Giants are warming to the possibilityof carrying the scorching-hot Sanchez as a bat off the bench at least tostart the season.

We wanted to take a look at it with a lefty out there,Bochy said. Its something he hasnt done a lot, Im sure. So its a goodexperience to get him an at-bat there.

The White Sox left-hander was a kid named Hector Santiago, and he wasbringing it. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (and a former Giants beatwriter for the Mercury News, by the way) told me that Santiago has been thetalk of camp.

The Hector-Hector matchup didnt go the Giants way. Sanchezgrounded into a double play to end the game.

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A reminder: Ryan Vogelsong will start Monday and throw 40pitches against the Kansas City Royals at Scottsdale Stadium. Brian Wilson ison the schedule to throw an inning, too.

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Giants GM Brian Sabean made a two-inning guest appearance onKNBR with Dave Flemming the other day. During that stint, Sabean mentioned thatthe club might need another starting pitcher not Vogelsong to take the ballwhen the Giants need a No.5 guy on April 15. So perhaps they are not confidentthat Vogelsong could be sufficiently stretched out in time.

Eric Surkamp would be the logical choice, Id imagine. Butitll depend on how Vogelsong looks as he builds his pitch count.

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I've mentioned right-hander Dan Otero's fabulous, strike-filled spring and how he might be one of the first call-ups when the Giants need another relief arm. Well, Bochy said today that hard-throwing prospect Heath Hembree would begin the season at Triple-A Fresno and serve as the Grizzlies' closer. Otero closed for Fresno last season and would be one heck of a setup man.

That Grizzlies bullpen is going to be darn good.

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Nate Schierholtz needs to catch a hot streak to getmanagement to buy into the idea of committing to him as an everyday player. Hedid not help himself Sunday, when he was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

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In case Barry Zitos rough outing has you wondering Jonathan Sanchez is not having a good spring, either. In three starts for theRoyals, he has a 9.72 ERA. Here are the rest of his numbers: 8.1 innings, 13hits, 11 runs, nine earned runs, five walks, eight strikeouts, a .351opponents average and a 2.16 WHIP.

BAGGARLY: ChiSox hammer Zito, but rotation spot is safe

Given how Melky Cabrera looks this spring, the Giants' trade could turn out to be baseball's best deal of the offseason.

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Right-hander Scott Munter, who is up from minor league camp, replacedZito in the third inning and was charged with cleaning up the mess. But the big Nebraskan with the bowling ball sinkeronly faced one batter. He strained his calf while jumping off the mound tocover first base. Its been a long road back for Munter, who established himself as a bullpenmainstay in 2005 but had an elbow scope after that season and hasn't been the same. He hasnt pitched in the big leagues since 07. Hopefully forhim this calf injury isnt a major setback.

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I didnt follow enough college basketball to feel good aboutfilling out an informed bracket. The only games I watched involved my almamater, Northwestern. So I decided my only chance in the NCAA pool would be to go rogue. I had Baylor winning it all, using the RBTSOON method (really beatthe snot out of Northwestern).

Now Im wishing Northwestern had played Kentucky thisseason.

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

Cubs outfielder vows he didn't give Trump the middle finger at White House

WASHINGTON – Albert Almora Jr. didn’t use Wednesday’s Oval Office photo op as a subtle form of political protest, but it did sort of look like the Cubs outfielder gave President Donald Trump the middle finger, at least from that angle in an image that went viral on Twitter.    

“There was two fingers! Look closely, there was two fingers!” a veteran player yelled across the room as reporters gathered around Almora’s locker inside the visiting clubhouse at Nationals Park. 

“Guys were giving me a hard time about it,” Almora said, “but I pointed out the second finger. We’re all good.”

In another White House visit that didn’t look nearly as unofficial or informal as the Cubs said it would be, one snapshot became Almora with part of his left hand in his pocket. Almora stood near Kris Bryant – who held a 45 Wrigley Field scoreboard panel – and Trump at his desk with the World Series trophy.

“Obviously, it’s unfortunate,” Almora said with a laugh. “I’m getting ready to take a picture and I’m posing there. But you guys know that I would never do that to the president of the United States. 

“I respect everybody. It is what it is. We laugh about it now, but there’s definitely two fingers out there.”

READ MORE AT CSNChicago.com

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

Giants notes: Melancon gets injection; Kontos gets an at-bat

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants were annoyed by Monday’s “rubbing teammates the wrong way” report for a number of reasons, but near the top of the list was the fact that the target, Mark Melancon, has been pitching hurt to try and help a last-place team. That’s no longer the case. 

Melancon went on the DL on Wednesday morning and later had a PRP (platelet rich plasma) injection in his right arm to try and ease some of the discomfort in his pronator. He is expected to be out the rest of the first half. Melancon would be eligible to return with two games left until the break, but there’s no point in rushing him. He missed 12 games the first time this came up and he now has more than two weeks to rest before the second half kicks off. 

In the meantime, Sam Dyson is the closer, but he was unavailable Wednesday because of a heavy workload. So Bruce Bochy got creative to close out a 5-3 win over the Rockies. George Kontos came on for a sharp Ty Blach in the seventh and carried the lead to the eighth. Steven Okert got through the 26th out and Hunter Strickland came in to get Ian Desmond to fly out for his first save of the year. 

Because Bochy wanted Kontos to face Pat Valaika in the eighth, he got an at-bat 15 hours after Cory Gearrin got to take his hacks. It at first looked like Kontos had “don’t swing” orders, but he fouled a ball off. 

“The second fastball I got, if it was near the plate, I was going to swing,” he said. 

Kontos said he doesn’t have bragging rights over Gearrin because he fouled a ball off, noting that Gearrin is 1 for 2 in his career and he is 0 for 8. It turns out that they used the same bat, too. Yes, there is a Cory Gearrin model.

“It’s just been hanging out since last year,” Gearrin said, looking down at his equipment bag. “Just in case.”

--- Dan Slania woke up a 4:30, drove to Philadelphia, and boarded a flight that was went down through Nashville to fuel up. He arrived in San Francisco in time for the second inning. And then he watched, met with old teammates, showered … and prepared to fly all the way back to Pennsylvania. 

“I’m going to pass out as soon as I get on the plane,” Slania said. 

He wasn’t complaining at all. The Giants needed a potential innings-eater with Melancon on the DL, and if Slania is sent back down before Friday’s game, he’ll at least be back near Double-A Richmond and the flight back will have been taken on a chartered jet with a bunch of former teammates. Plus he gets a couple of service days. 

“I can tell you it’s well worth it,” Bochy said. 

--- The main story today is about Jae-gyun Hwang, who brought some more life to a team that got its first sweep of the year. The standings are what they are, but the Giants are playing much better, and some players started talking Wednesday about how they’re looking forward to being a spoiler for teams like the Rockies and Diamondbacks. 

More than anything, the players are just happy that they got to listen to the victory soundtrack again and walk out of this park with smiles. 

“We did a really good job of coming into this series and decided what the intent should be,” Nick Hundley said. “We weren’t going to worry about what’s been going on. You control what you can control. It’s nice when the results match up.”

There was a players-only meeting on Monday and Hundley said “everybody got on the same page again.”

Now the tricky part: Keeping it going on the road. 

--- Nolan Arenado is a freak and the Giants should give him a blank check, a ton of Facebook stock, and the rights to the Salesforce building when he’s a free agent in two and a half seasons. 

--- Ryder Jones is hitless in 16 at-bats but he was keeping his head up. He was an inch or two from a double down the line Wednesday and the Giants feel he’s having good at-bats. More than anything, he's not taking those results into the field and he talked about that at length when we sat down for a podcast the other day. If you subscribe on iTunes here, you’ll have it in the morning.