EXTRA BAGGS: Why are teams running wild on Posey?

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EXTRA BAGGS: Why are teams running wild on Posey?

LOS ANGELES Buster Posey needs a day off behind the plate, according to Bruce Bochy.But the Giants' manager would have to show up in iron helmet and hauberkif he left his best hitter out of a late-August game at Dodger Stadium.

So Posey will be at first base on Tuesday, Bochy said.Hector Sanchez draws the assignment of catcherhuman pincushion with TimLincecum on the mound.

Posey took an 0-for-4 with three strikeouts Monday, andtheres no shame in that against Clayton Kershaw. Posey certainly looked strong whileblocking balls and making a pair of throws to nab runners, part of an overall solid defensiveeffort behind a left-hander Madison Bumgarner at the top of his game.

RELATED: Baggs' Instant Replay: Giants 2, Dodgers 1

But heres the interesting part:

The Dodgers didnt stop running after Posey threw out ShaneVictorino in the third and Luis Cruz in the sixth.

In fact, Victorino took off with two outs and Matt Kemp atthe plate in the sixth. And after stealing second base, Victorino stole third,too.

That whole sequence didnt make a whole lot of sense to me. No, its not likeVictorino was taking the bat out of Kemps hands by stealing second. (TheGiants arent going to put the tying run on base, after all.) But at thatmoment, Kemp represented the tying run. If Victorino gets thrown out, Kempleads off the next inning with the bases empty.

Then, just as I started to justify the merits of getting into scoring position, Victorino goes and swipes third.

I wont even try to figure that oneout.

Really, theres just one explanation: Victorino was 100percent certain that he would make it.

Then I asked myself, Why would Victorino think that way? And itdawned on me that we saw a similar situation the other day in San Diego, whenCameron Maybin helped to run the Padres out of a potentially big inning. Poseythrew him out at second base with one out and runners at the corners.

Could the league be marking Posey as easy prey?

I looked up the stats, and this much is absolutely, unequivocally true:

Teams arerunning on Posey with reckless abandon.

Posey has thrown out 27 percent of attempted base stealers,right on line with the NL average. Yet opponents have made 97 attempts againsthim, which leads the league by a wide margin. (Carlos Ruiz is next, with 86.Brian McCann follows with 81, then A.J. Ellis and Nick Hundley with 79).

And although Posey has caught 26 runners stealing, which istied with the Dodgers Ellis for the third most in the NL, opponents havestolen 71 bases against him far and away the most among NL catchers. (RodBarajas is next with 61, McCann is at 59 and there is a little more separationbetween them and everyone else.)

You wouldnt think that Posey is a catcher that the scoutingreports would tell you to pick on. He has a strong arm. Hes an accuratethrower, too.

Sure, theres the impact of your batterymate. But Lincecumis generally considered an easy mark to run on, and Posey hasnt caught himvery often.

(Oddly enough, its Bumgarner, a lefty with a decent pickoffmove, who has witnessed the most thefts on the staff with 20 in 27 attempts. Thebullpen has had its share of issues, too. Baserunners are 9-for-9 against ClayHensley and 6-for-6 against Sergio Romo.)

There are a bunch of possible reasons that teams are takingchances with Posey behind the plate. But they are, and theres only one sureway to stop it.

Posey must throw them out, as he did twice Monday night.

As an Internet meme once suggested, Buster ain't having it.

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In case you were wondering, Marco Scutaro was bunting on his own in the first inning when his sacrifice put Angel Pagan in position to score on Pablo Sandovals flyball. Scutaro is a player who understands his strengths and applies them to fitgame situations. Theres a simpler definition for guys like that: winningplayers.

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Javier Lopez was the committee member who got to wield thegavel after Romo gave up his second gopherball of the season to Hanley Ramirez.Lopez got Andre Ethier to ground to first base to seal the Giants 2-1 victory.

It was their second one-run victory on the trip. Beforethat, they didnt have one since July 24.

Closer by committee is not an ideal thing, but it works forus, Lopez said. I think weve done a pretty good job with it. And overall, Ithink were starting to hit our stride.

How did Lopez attack Ethier?

Just trying to stay down in the zone and work ahead, hesaid. I got him to roll over a sinker. Tomorrow Ill probably have to come upwith something different.

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I didnt fit this quote into the main story on the game,which was mostly about the magic of watching two strong-armed left-handers at theheight of their powers in Bumgarner and Clayton Kershaw.

RELATED: Bumgarner gives Giants a performance for the ages

But its too good a quote to stay in my notebook:

They came into our house and dominated us the wholeweekend, said Lopez, recalling the late-July series when the Dodgers outscoredthe Giants 19-3 while completing a three-game sweep. Thats something wevebeen thinking about in here.

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Gregor Blanco started in left field as the Giants preferred alefty-lefty matchup with Kershaw over Justin Christian, who is 0 for 15 overhis last 10 games.

I have to believe the Giants will make a roster tweak in thenear future to give Bochy another right-handed option for left field. Maybeits Xavier Nady, who was 2 for 4 with a double Monday night for Triple-AFresno. (And also played in both ends of Sundays doubleheader).

But heres a dark horse for you: Juan Perez is on fire atDouble-A Richmond. He is batting .414 in August and hit his 10thhome run Monday night. Hes been playing center field the past couple dayswhile Gary Brown moves to left.

GM Brian Sabean has said that Brown isnt likely to be inthe big leagues this season. But maybe Perez, a good defender with some wheels,will merit some attention.

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Your nightly Guillermo Mota update: He pitched two inningsfor Fresno and gave up one hit, a home run to Jedd Gyorko. Mota struck out twoand did not walk a batter.

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.