EXTRA BAGGS: Zito says time is now to capitalize vs. Dodgers

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EXTRA BAGGS: Zito says time is now to capitalize vs. Dodgers

SAN FRANCISCO Barry Zito said all along that two of hisprevious three losses hadnt been terrible starts, except for the result in thebox score.

Its true, the Rangers and Angels can take the cheese graterto a starting pitcher better than almost any team in either league. Zito felthe hadnt made too many terrible pitches while staying aggressive. He didntfall into the trap of nibbling and walking hitters.

Zito plugged the leak against the Los Angeles Dodgers bydoing a little of both.

He returned to his winning ways while holding down a Dodgerslineup that didnt exactly resemble a first-place murderers row. They managedjust three hits against him, and Zito pitched around three walks in the firsttwo innings. Handed a huge lead, he cruised as he normally does.

And he offered some pretty strong postgame analysis, too.

Theyre pretty banged up over there and weve got tocapitalize on that, Zito said. We were banged up early and they capitalizedon that. Its the nature of the game. Its a marathon, and were happy withwhere were at.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy noted that Zito might have beentoo aggressive in the strike zone in those losses to the Rangers and Angels; hesaid Zito learned from those experiences and did a better job being focused onmaking quality pitches, and using all his pitches.

Zito was 0-4 in his last eight starts against the Dodgers,even though he posted a 2.92 ERA over that span. He beat them for the firsttime since May 8, 2009. And yes, he acknowledged it was a big deal for him.

Yeah, definitely, he said. Its the biggest rivalry inbaseball, and well be playing them down the stretch in crunch time, inSeptember. So no doubt.

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Catcher Hector Sanchez said he was fine and that doctorsconcurred after he took a foul ball off the side of the mask in the ninthinning Monday night.

Sanchez had turned his head slightly when he absorbed theimpact. It appeared small pieces of debris flew off his mask and trainersrushed out to check on him. But he told them he could finish the game, and wasnot woozy.

Afterward, Sanchez gave Barry Zito a hug and was lucid as hespoke with reporters. He had two hits including an RBI double in place ofBuster Posey and helped Zito to his third start of seven shutout innings or morethis season.

Posey is expected to be back behind the plate to catch RyanVogelsong on Tuesday.

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Even with the Giants up 7-0 after the second inning, Bochynever took out any of his starters early. Even guys like Angel Pagan and MelkyCabrera, who are playing every day and a little nicked up, stayed out there tothe end.

Sure, its June. But its also a rivalry game against thefirst-place team, and Bochy wasnt about to take any chances.

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This was like a win-win-win for the Giants. Not only do theysave the bullpen and have no need for closer Santiago Casilla, who wasunavailable after being taxed over the weekend, but they were able to givePosey a break. The Giants are 7-2 in games when Posey doesnt make anappearance in the box score, according to BayAreaSportsGuy.com.

Obviously, the Giants are a better team with Posey in thelineup. But a stat like that makes it a little easier for Bochy and maybesome Giants fans to stomach his needed days off to rest his ankle. The clubwont be able to afford that luxury in September, so they might as well takeadvantage of it now.

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 …