EXTRAS: Belt heats up, Peguero's debut "ok"

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EXTRAS: Belt heats up, Peguero's debut "ok"

SAN FRANCISCO You know Angel Pagan has been the hottest hitter on the Giants in August. And you know Buster Posey has been sizzling ever since the All-Star break.But do you know who is hitting .352 over his last 28 games, and .371 over his last 19?Think for a minute.(Music plays.)Its Brandon Belt. The Giants first baseman has quietly lifted his average from.229 on July 24 up to a respectable .265. And his on-base percentage is up to .362, which is second only to Posey (.403) among Giants hitters who arent suspended.With all the talk of how the Giants would replace Melky Cabrera, there wasnt much mention of the resurgence of Belt. Thats partly because hes done it without hitting homers he hasnt hit one since June 23, and he has just four all year but Belt doesnt care. He said he decided to not worry about his numbers and just worry about helping the team win.I got in this low spot, he said. I wasnt doing anything to help the team. I was probably hurting the team, and it really bugged me. I said, No matter how I feel, Im going to go out and battle and see what happens. I think thats make me play better personally.In his second at-bat on Saturday, Belt did exactly what the Giants needed, even though it lowered his batting average. With runners on second and third and no outs, he hit a ground ball to second. It was the perfect out, because it drove in a run and moved another runner to third. In his next trip, Belt drilled a double over the head of center fielder Michael Bourn.I think its a changing mindset, Belt said. Im just going out there and battling whether I feel good or bad, just do anything I can to try to help us win. Its getting down to crunch time and we have to win as much possible.---The Giants optioned right-hander Eric Hacker to Triple-A after Saturdays game, with a corresponding roster move to be announced before Sundays game. Hacker appeared in three games since he was recalled Aug. 17, and he gave up runs inall three.Guillermo Mota will not be the guy who takes his spot on Sunday. That is the final day of his 100-game suspension. Mota will have to be activated or designated for assignment on Tuesday, after the Giants off day on Monday.--Speaking of Mota, Bruce Bochy said before the game that the decision on whether he comes back will be mostly baseball related, but its a fair question how much of his outside circumstances should be taken into account.Will fans forgive a two-time violator of baseballs drug policy? Does it matter if fans forgive him or not? Are the Giants better off not even reopening the discussion by putting him back on the mound?All good questions.From here it seems the Giants ought to do whatever wins them the most games, and thats probably what fans want too.--Jeremy Affeldt is scuffling. In his last seven games, hes allowed four runs on eight hits and six walks in 4 23 innings. He issued back-to-back bases-loadedwalks in the eighth inning on Saturday, turning a 4-3 game into a 6-3 game.Hes battling himself a little bit, Bochy said. He was so close to gettingout of that inning. Got two strikes and was so close to getting out of that. Once he walked the guy he was frustrated and then he walked another guy. Hes a big part of the pen and they all have their moments, which hes having now, but it wasnt too long ago he was pitching as well as anybody, and well get himback on track.--Francisco Pegueros major league debut was ok, Bochy said, hardly a ringing endorsement.Peguero did make a nice catch running back toward the fence in the first inning, saving a couple runs, but his two at-bats didnt go well. In the third inning he grounded out weakly. In the fifth, all he had to do was put a ball in play to drive in a run, and he struck out.---Pegueros big league debut prompted discussion of Bochys first taste of the majors, more than 34 years ago. Bochy was playing in Double-A when he got promoted to the majors. He said he got to New York, only to realize the Astros were playing that day in Houston.Someone is playing a joke on me, Bochy recalled thinking, before he realized that the team was arriving in New York the following day.Bochy also didnt come to the majors with a big league wardrobe, having been on a Double-A road trip at the time of his promotion.I think I broke even when I got called up because I had to buy so many clothes, Bochy said.A little baseball-reference search reveals a few fun facts about Bochys debut. He was in the lineup with another future manager (Art Howe) and a future general manager (Bob Watson). It was also the first of three consecutive doubleheaders the Astros played in New York and Philadelphia. No wonder they needed reinforcements from Double A.

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

Santiago Casilla says he never received offer from Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Over the final month of his time with the Giants, it became clear that Santiago Casilla and the team would part ways. On Friday, Casilla confirmed that he never had the opportunity to return. 

On a conference call to announce a two-year deal with the Oakland A’s, Casilla said he “would have been happy to return to the Giants, but I never got an offer from them. I understood.”

Casilla said he had several opportunities to go elsewhere and close, mentioning the Milwaukee Brewers as one interested team. Casilla signed a two-year, $11 million deal with the A’s, who likely won’t need him to pitch in the ninth. The Brewers went on to bring in Neftali Feliz for one year and $5.35 million; he is expected to close. 

“I preferred to return to the Athletics because that’s where my career started,” Casilla said through interpreter Manolo Hernández Douen. “And I’m very excited.”

Casilla spent the first six years of his career with the A’s before crossing the bridge and becoming a key figure in three title runs. In seven seasons in San Francisco, he posted a 2.42 ERA and saved 123 games. Casilla had a 0.92 ERA in the postseason, but he was stripped of a prominent role in the weeks leading up to the 2016 playoffs. 

Casilla, 36, blew nine saves before being pulled from the ninth inning. He appeared just three times in the final 14 regular season games and just once in the playoffs. He did not take the mound in Game 4 of the NLDS, watching as five other relievers teamed up to give back a three-run lead. 

That moment stung Casilla, and it affected Bruce Bochy, too. The Giants struck quickly in December to bring Mark Melancon in as their new closer, but at the Winter Meetings, Bochy said he would welcome Casilla back in a setup role. 

“He’s a great team player (and) teammate,” Bochy said. “(I) certainly wouldn’t rule it out because he still has great stuff. And he had some hiccups there in that closing role, but I would take him anytime.”

As it turned out, that opportunity was never there for Casilla. The Giants didn’t make another move after the big deal with Melancon, and they’ll rely on younger arms to record most of the outs in the seventh and eighth. Casilla said he’s not bitter about the way it all ended. 

“I have left that in the past,” he said. “It’s a new year, it’s a new year. I have left this in the past.” 

Authorities: Two Dodgers security guards arrested, accused of theft

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Authorities: Two Dodgers security guards arrested, accused of theft

LOS ANGELES -- Prosecutors say two security guards at Los Angeles' Dodger Stadium have been arrested and are accused of stealing equipment, baseballs and jerseys from the major league team to sell online.

The Los Angeles County district attorney's office says Juan DeDios Prada and Fernando Sierra pleaded not guilty to burglary and other charges Thursday.

Prosecutors say the two security guards conspired with a third man, Jesse Luis Dagnesses, to steal baseball uniforms and other team merchandise to sell online.

They say Prada and Sierra stole more than $3,400 from a locked equipment room at the stadium between January 2013 and February 2016.

Authorities say Dagnesses is accused of receiving $950 in stolen baseballs and jerseys.

It wasn't immediately clear if the men had attorneys who could comment on the allegations.