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.

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco … 

 

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Aaron Hill didn't play in the final Cactus League game, but he didn't need to. By simply being on the flight to San Francisco on Tuesday, Hill got good news. 

The veteran infielder was due a $100,000 bonus on Tuesday, and while the Giants haven't formally announced their roster, you don't pay a man that much money to come play three exhibition games against the A's. Hill appears to have made this club as a second backup infielder, along with Conor Gillaspie. Another veteran, Jimmy Rollins, got the news that the Giants are headed in a different direction. 

Team officials spoke with Rollins this week about their future plans. He was not on the travel roster Tuesday and did not attend the game against the Cubs. 

"We're waiting to hear back from him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He knows the scenario and the situation. We're waiting to hear back."

Rollins, 38, showed the Giants that he can still handle shortstop defensively, and he was a quick learner when he moved to second. But he hit just .119, falling behind Hill, Kelby Tomlinson and others in the mix for bench spots. It would seem unlikely that Rollins would want to get additional at-bats in Triple-A, but that feeling hadn't been fully conveyed to team officials Tuesday. There was a hope that Rollins, an East Bay native, might join the team for the Bay Bridge Series, which finishes Saturday in Oakland. Rollins grew up an A's fan.

Rollins and Hill were part of a crowded infield group at the start of camp. Gordon Beckham also had a retention bonus and he asked to be released when he was told he wouldn't make the opening day roster. David Hernandez, the third player due a bonus, also was released. He promptly signed with the Atlanta Braves.