EXTRAS: Bochy hopes for a family meeting on the mound

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EXTRAS: Bochy hopes for a family meeting on the mound

PEORIA, Ariz. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has called thenames of hundreds of relievers over his 17-plus seasons as a major leaguemanager.

But hes never called another Bochy.

He had that chance Thursday night, when his son minorleague right-hander Brett Bochy was added to fill out the travel roster forthe night game against the Seattle Mariners at Peoria.

I didnt know he was coming over, said the manager, who ended up bypassing his son because Heath Hembree was scheduled to throw the ninth inning. Oh,its awesome. Its a special situation.

Brett Bochy was a closer who put up eye-popping numbers atthe University of Kansas before blowing out his elbow. The Giants spent alate-round draft pick on him, knowing he faced a long rehab process from TommyJohn surgery.

I know he worked hard after the Tommy John, the elderBochy said. I hope before I leave spring training, to get him in a game andcall him in there. I just told him, You cant make any comments if I take youout. Ive got to protect you like all the pitchers.

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Brett Bochy, 24, posted a 1.38 ERA in 35 games for Low-A Augusta(a 53-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39 innings, too) and was called up as aringer for Single-A San Jose in the Cal League playoffs. Hes expected toreport to San Jose to begin this season.

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Ryan Vogelsong came out of his bullpen session with noissues, Bochy said. Hes scheduled to throw live batting practice on Saturday.If all goes well, hed throw one more time to live hitters before hed get in agame.

The Giants can take it slow with Vogelsong, and perhaps evenplace him on the disabled list to carry another player for the season-openingroad trip. Because of a day off on the first trip, the club could choose tooperate without a fifth starter until its ninth game, on April 15.

One other thing: Vogelsong still has to be run through thegauntlet of PFP (pitchers fielding practice) and hitting. That last partshould come quickly for the former Kutztown University shortstop.

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Brandon Belt raised his stock, and not only because he went3 for 5 in the Giants 7-5 victory to raise his average to .375. His louddouble came off a tough left-hander, Hong-Chih Kuo. Just more evidence thatBelt, no matter what uniform he wears in three weeks, should not be platooned.He should be out there every day.

Really nice game, Bochy (the manager) said. He saw the ball well. Goodtwo-strike approach.

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Shall we also point out that Brandon Crawfords two-run homerun came against Kuo?

Expect the Giants to sit Crawford against some (most?)left-handers this season, as they seek to protect him from getting overexposedat the plate. But ask Crawford about that plan and he wants no part of beingprotected. Hes told me on several occasions that he likes hittingleft-handers. The only reason he hit .133 in 30 at-bats against them lastseason, he said, is that its tough to hit a left-handed curveball when youonly see one a month.

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Barry Zito paid for a fastball mistake to Mike Carp, who hita two-run home run. But those were the only runs that Zito allowed in fourinnings. He had his good curve working and said he continues to feel betterfrom the stretch than the windup. He feels his changes from the stretch willmake him quicker to the plate, too, which should help him contain opposingbaserunners.

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Another day, another Maysian feat by Gregor Blanco. He hit achopper over the first basemans head, and when the right fielder bobbled itfor an instant, he bokked it for second base and made it safely. He tagged andtook third base on a fly ball to center and later scored.

I asked Bochy today what was his most exciting developmentin camp. He mentioned Brian Wilson, Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez makingprogress, but he mostly was impressed by the athletic baserunning that hesseeing in nearly every one of these games. Blanco is the leading supplier ofthat. Makes it hard for me to envision the Giants leaving him off the roster.

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Bochy also mentioned that players were doing a much betterjob picking up signs. Its rather disturbing to think they didnt do a dutifuljob of that in the past, no? (Except for Juan Uribe. Famously, he never knewany of the signs).

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Regardless of what happened last year, Bochy said, We feelwe can put something on and its clicking right along.

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Hembree continues to look more poised with everyouting. Hes not a candidate to make the opening-day roster, but you can bet aguy who throws strikes with a 98-mph fastball would be useful at some pointthis season.

Good command, good stuff, Bochy said. Hes looking morecomfortable. Hes a power guy and they can take a little longer to comearound.

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The Giants made two more expected cuts, optioning infielderCharlie Culberson and outfielder Roger Kieschnick to Triple-A Fresno.

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A lot happens in a week, huh? Since I jetted off for my typicalmid-spring break, Posey made his much-anticipated debut, he launched a home runfor his first hit, Sanchez appeared in a game for the first time since June and Wilson hit 96 mph on theradar gun for the first time in ... a long time. And from the looks of things, Jeremy Affeldt managed to avoidstabbing himself in any extremities, too. Im sure there will be plenty more to report in theweeks ahead.

Hearty thanks to Rael Enteen for doing such an enthusiastic job inmy absence. Itll be me for the duration of the spring. When do the movingtrucks arrive, again?

Giants spring training Day 6: Bochy looks for improvement on bases

Giants spring training Day 6: Bochy looks for improvement on bases

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants always put together a long list of potential minor league free agents as the offseason approaches and they tend to go hard after two or three players from that group. One of the guys who got the hard sell over the winter was speedy outfielder Wynton Bernard, and the Giants were attractive for reasons beyond the departures of Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco.

“I thought it was a good opportunity, and it also was a good fit for me because I’m from California,” Bernard said. 

Bernard is technically from Padres territory, but that gives him a connection to one of the men he’s hoping to impress. When Bernard was playing for Rancho Bernardo High, he often went up against a Poway High team that included a young Brett Bochy. Bruce never saw Bernard play because his job kept him away from most of Brett’s games, but he should see plenty of the 26-year-old this spring as the Giants look for a needed speed dimension. 

A big part of the staff overhaul was about making sure the Giants fare better on the bases. Roberto Kelly and Billy Hayes are out and Phil Nevin and Jose Alguacil are in. The Giants stole 79 bases last season, ranking eighth in the National League, and it’s not like they made up for the lack of small-ball by hitting the ball out of the park. Advanced metrics — tracked externally and also by the Giants — showed an inability to make an impact on the bases. According to BsR, an all-encompassing metric tracked by FanGraphs, the Giants were below average, ranking 17th in the majors. 

“We just want to be smarter baserunners,” Bochy said. “You always want to be aggressive. Everyone has the same philosophy — run hard — but it’s the old adage ‘strong to compete, smart to win.’”

A full season of Eduardo Nuñez will help, as would 162 games of Hunter Pence — who tends to make things happen on his own — and Joe Panik, one of the team’s smartest runners. Jimmy Rollins could provide speed off the bench, and Bernard hopes to make himself a viable option in the outfield. He stole 23 bags in 28 attempts last season for the Tigers’ Double-A and Triple-A teams and he stole 88 total bases the two seasons before 2016. 

The Giants know the kind of potential Bernard has, so early in the offseason he got a call telling him to hook up with fellow San Diego resident Vince Coleman, a legendary baserunner who would be joining the staff. The two worked out often in advance of spring training. 

“The Giants said he was in the area and I called him 20 minutes later,” Bernard said. “I feel like I can add a different dynamic with my speed.”

Bernard can play all three outfield spots and he sports a .360 on-base percentage in the minors. He’s likely ticketed for Triple-A for now, but a player with the same profile showed up in camp in 2012, and it wasn’t long before Gregor Blanco had locked up a roster spot. 

Whether Bernard is part of the mix, or it’s a Gorkys Hernandez or Nuñez or Kelby Tomlinson, Bochy knows he needs a little more athleticism and baserunning savvy in a division where the games are often won by one run. 

“We probably made more mistakes than we should have last year,” he said. “The numbers show it.”

CUETO UPDATE: The co-ace remains in the Dominican Republic, where he is tending to his father. The Giants don’t have a timetable for Cueto’s arrival, but he didn’t miss anything Saturday. The workout was banged because of rain. 

Cueto is at a hotel a few minutes from the club’s Santo Domingo facility and he has been working out there. The hope is that Cueto’s father soon gets well enough to travel to Arizona, where Cueto can continue to take care of him. 

NEW FACE: Slade Heathcott, a former Yankee, signed a minor league deal with the Giants on Friday. He will be in minor league camp this spring, not big league camp. The Giants liked his athleticism. 

QUOTABLE: “You can always look back, study it, learn from it … the second half, I think for everybody, you learn from it. Did we drop our guard? Hopefully it wasn’t complacency, which lets you think you have a bigger margin for error. Hopefully you learn from it.” — Bochy, when asked about the lesson learned last season. 

Report: Giants sign former Yankees top OF prospect Slade Heathcott

Report: Giants sign former Yankees top OF prospect Slade Heathcott

The Giants reportedly added to their outfield competition by signing former Yankees top prospect and 2009 first-round draft pick, outfielder Slade Heathcott. 

Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports was first to report the news

Heathcott, 26, has only appeared in 17 MLB games, all in the 2015 season for the Yankees. In his short promotion, the lefty batted .400 (10-for-25) with two home runs and two doubles. 

Through multiple stints in the minors, Heathcott has slashed .266/.343/.390 with 26 home runs for his career. 

San Francisco reportedly signed Heathcott to a minor league deal with a big league invite for spring training.