EXTRA BAGGS: Whiteside, Stewart, or none of the above?


EXTRA BAGGS: Whiteside, Stewart, or none of the above?

SURPRISE, Ariz. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he and GMBrian Sabean pretty much have the team picked, but there are a few unresolvedissues.

Backup catcher might be the most hotly debated issueremaining, and get this: It could involve young switch-hitter Hector Sanchez asBuster Poseys only backup.

Bochy said he and Sabean were still discussing whether tocarry two or three catchers something that will be difficult with theirstated intention to break with a 12-man pitching staff.

But either Chris Stewart or Eli Whiteside will make the clubas Poseys primary backup, right?

Well, I cant answer that question, said Bochy, his eyebrows raised. Werestill talking. I guess Im saying were staying open minded. I said this wouldbe a difficult decision, and theres a couple others right there with it.

This represents a fairly large shift in thinking. Allspring, Bochy framed the backup catcher situation as a competition betweenStewart and Whiteside. But Sanchez continued to keep himself in theconversation; the 22-year-old switch-hitter has a .405 average with a team-highfour home runs and 1.195 OPS this spring, following up on a huge season in theVenezuelan winter league.

His presence would give the Giants a bat off the bench andthe ability to take Posey out early, or pinch-run for him, without the fear ofhaving just one other catcher on the roster.

The Giants had planned for Sanchez to be the everydaystarter at Triple-A Fresno, where he could work on his receiving skills.

We are still debating that. Ill say that, said Bochy,asked about Sanchez. Its a decision that will go down to the wire. Two orthree, and that will obviously affect another player.

Youre right, Hector has really played great ball and hescaught well. Hes done a good job blocking and receiving. Hes a nice player.

Bochy received glowing reports on Brian Wilson, who threw 20pitches against the Diamondbacks Triple-A team in minor league camp onThursday.

You know what? Hes ready, said Bochy, after Wilson walkedone and struck out two. Hell go back-to-back days, check that off and hellbe ready. We like where hes at in terms of stuff, velocity. Hes good to go.

Bochy said hed check to see how Wilson feels Fridaymorning, but the current plan was to pitch an inning in the Cactus Leagueexhibition against the San Diego Padres at Peoria, Ariz.

The Giants changed the schedule for Tim Lincecum. Instead ofthrowing in minor league camp Sunday for his final tuneup before the April 6opener, he will start the Cactus League finale against the Milwaukee Brewers atMaryvale.

Lincecum will throw just four or five innings, Bochy said.

Bochy liked the at-bats he saw in Thursday nights 6-2victory over Texas at Surprise. He especially made note of Pablo Sandoval, whohad a hit in three at-bats against lefty Matt Harrison.

Pablo from the right side, hes much improved from earlierin the spring, Bochy said. He was really lunging earlier. Hes balanced now.Hes taking pitches where he had been getting himself out.

Freddy Sanchez is taking baby steps after Sundays cortisoneshot to kickstart his repaired right shoulder. He began playing catch againThursday and Bochy said he and trainers felt good about the session. Still notimetable to begin taking infield practice again and move toward playing secondbase, though.

Sanchez will start the season on the disabled list,obviously.

As it stands now, theres an excellent chance that both MikeFontenot and Ryan Theriot will be on the opening-day roster.

Well know for sure in a few hours. If the Giants want tocut either player, theyll have to do it by Friday. Otherwise, their entiresalary (1.25 million for Theriot, 1.05 million for Fontenot) will becomeguaranteed. Theyre only guaranteed a quarter of their salary if they are cutbefore the deadline.

Theriot said he hadnt heard anything.

Youll probably know before I do, he said.

The same probably wont be true of Matt Cains extension, ifit happens. But hey, Ill try my best.

In case you missed it, the Miami Marlins released Aaron Rowand on Thursday. That's not a shock, since he was hitting.133 (6 for 45) this spring as a non-roster guy.Rowand told the Miami Herald that he's OK with calling it a career if this is the end. And it almost certainly is."I'll either go somewhere else if another team needs an outfielder or, if not, probably take it to the house, call it a career," Rowand said. "Not everybody gets to decide when they're going to hang 'em up. I feel like I have some left. But, if the opportunity doesn't present itself, then I'm happy with the things I've accomplished and looking forward to the next chapter."
The Giants are paying Rowand's 12 million salary this season -- the last year of his five-year, 60 million contract. Even if he made the Marlins roster, the Giants would've had to pay Rowand all but the major league minimum salary (480,000).

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

Vin Scully on Dodgers Opening Day: ‘I’ll probably have things to do’

WASHINGTON -- On Monday, the Dodgers will play their first opening day since 1950 without Vin Scully calling their games. He won't be in the stands. He won't make a point of watching on TV, either.

"It's a day game. I'll probably have things to do," the famed 89-year-old announcer told The Associated Press from his home in Hidden Hills, California. "I might catch a piece of it."

Not that Scully has any regrets since retiring after last season. He says he's grateful for every minute he spent with the Dodgers, the franchise he joined 67 years ago in Brooklyn and followed to Los Angeles eight years later. He feels blessed to have worked as long as he did covering the game he fell in love with as a boy.

But he's learned that after a lifetime in the broadcast booth, watching a game as a fan holds little appeal.

"During the World Series back around '77 or '78, there was a game at Dodger Stadium with the Yankees, and I went to the game as a spectator. Now, I hadn't been as a spectator in a long, long time, and I felt somewhat restless that I wasn't broadcasting," Scully recalled Tuesday.

"I did not have the challenge of trying to describe, accurately and quickly, the way it should be done. I just sat there, and I was not happy, I'll be honest. So I realized that although I love the game, what I loved more was broadcasting it," he said.

Scully spoke to the AP because the Library of Congress has announced it will preserve his call of a 1957 game between the Dodgers and the New York Giants at the Polo Grounds, the final time they played at the hallowed old stadium. Both teams moved to California after that season, opening up the West Coast to Major League Baseball.

Scully's call of Sandy Koufax's 1965 perfect game is more famous. But that game at the Polo Grounds meant more to him personally, because he grew up going to games there, cheering for the Giants and dreaming of watching from the press box.

"It was so meaningful to me. I'm not sure what it really means to baseball fans anymore," Scully said. "The sands of time have washed over the Polo Grounds. But for me, it was one of the more memorable games I was ever involved in."

During that broadcast, Scully implored the players to take their time before there franchises left town: "Let's take it easy, we just want to take one last lingering look at both of you." The Library of Congress called it "a masterful example of the artistry that great sports announcers bring to their work, as well as their empathy for players and fans."

Six decades later, Scully is having an easier time letting go. So no plans to keep track Monday when Los Angeles plays the San Diego Padres at Dodger Stadium.

"All summer long, I expect to get feelings of nostalgia, wistfulness, whatever the word may be, but no, I am comfortable, I do know in my heart and soul I am where I should be, and that really is all I need," he said.

"Sure, after 67 years, you'll bet I'll miss it," he added. "But heck, I miss the guys I hung out with when I was in school."

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 …