Giants

EXTRAS: Burriss plans to bring the leather this time

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EXTRAS: Burriss plans to bring the leather this time

Emmanuel Burriss wasnt so well equipped last season.

No longer limited to the middle infield, Burriss became a utility-man extraordinaire, getting experience at left field, third base and even first base. He did surprisingly well at all positions, giving him an edge to win the last spot on the Giants opening-day roster as he enters spring training.

But he always seemed to be playing with a borrowed glove.

He used catcher Chris Stewarts first basemans mitt, bench coach Ron Wotus third basemans glove and he snagged some extra leather from Nate Schierholtz whenever Bruce Bochy pointed him to the outfield.

When Burriss played the outfield at Triple-A Fresno, he raided the locker of Grizzlies teammate Tyler La Torre.

Wait. Isnt La Torre a catcher?

Uh yeah, Burriss said.

Now Burriss has a whole new collection of gloves on order. Hell enjoy breaking them in this spring and never needing to rely on the charity of his teammates.

Not that Stewart minded handing over his first basemans mitt.

He kept it warm for me, Stewart said. When I needed it, it was ready to go.

You might wonder: Why does Stewart own a first basemans mitt in the first place? Well, he has his own glove story to tell. He had been called up by the Chicago White Sox in 2006 and joined the team at Fenway Park.

Ozzie (Guillen) called me over from the bullpen, so here I think Im coming in to catch, Stewart said. I get to the dugout and Ozzie says, If (Paul) Konerko gets on, youll pinch run and youll play first base. Oh, and do you have a glove?

Stewart couldnt just say no, could he? Of course not. He told Guillen he would find a glove, then he began to envision all the ways he could look like a total spaz in his major league debut.

Then Konerko lined out, Stewart said. And I took a deep breath and I sat down on the bench.

Stewart has one more message to pass along to Burriss:

Tell him he can borrow my catchers mitt if he wants to, he said, grinning. Anytime.

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As expected, Buster Posey did not catch any bullpens Monday. He did take batting practice without his ankle brace and participated in other drills. He iced down his ankle after the workout.

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Ryan Vogelsong is not having a great spring thus far. In addition to his strained back, which could force him to sit out the first two weeks of camp, Vogelsong was sent home Monday with flu-like symptoms.

REWIND: Back strain slows Vogelsong's spring

Were getting it all out of the way early, Bochy said.

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With Vogelsong out, the Giants are looking at their starting pitching depth and maybe even scanning the free-agent ranks to find a last-minute arm or two. For now, Ramon Ortiz and Brian Burres will be stretched out along with Eric Surkamp.

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Another player who will be sidelined is minor league infield prospect Charlie Culberson. He broke the tip of his left index finger when he dropped a dumbbell on it in the weight room a week ago. Culberson is wearing a splint and said he should be OK to take ground balls in a week.

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Maybe it wasnt such a good idea that Brian Wilson threw off a bullpen mound one spot over from flamethrowing prospect Heath Hembree, who has been known to dial it up in the 99 mph range.

I thought the same thing, Manager Bruce Bochy said. Two power arms next to each other, first bullpen, the last thing you want is for them to compete and see who throws the hardest.

Clear advantage: Hembree.

That was pretty neat, said Hembree, who was drafted by the Giants four months before Wilson clinched the World Series championship. I cant say I was watching what he was doing. I was just trying to focus on getting my own work done.

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In case you hadnt heard, Aaron Rowand, now a non-roster player in Florida Marlins camp, was able to get his familiar No. 33. The player who gave it up was none other than Scott Cousins, the baserunner who injured Buster Posey with his spearing collision at the plate May 25.

Cousins decided to switch to No .6, saying it was in homage to J.T. Snow his favorite Giant while growing up a huge fan of the team.

Heres the weirdest part: It was Snow, remember, who once famously collided with a catcher in Florida Pudge Rodriguez in a failed effort to knock the ball out of his glove. The play was the final out as the Marlins clinched the NL Division series in 2003.

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The Giants will play an intrasquad game on March 1, Bochy said.

Three teams chasing Giants in tight race for first overall pick

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Three teams chasing Giants in tight race for first overall pick

LOS ANGELES — The Giants have a pretty strong track record when picking in the top five of the MLB Draft. In 1985, they took Will Clark with the second overall selection, and Clark remains the highest-drafted player in franchise history. A year later, Matt Williams was taken third overall. Jason Grilli at No. 4 in 1997 is rather forgettable, but taking Buster Posey with the fifth pick in 2008 led to three titles. 

With a week of baseball remaining, the Giants are a lock to pick in the top four of next year’s draft. A few days ago, they looked like a pretty strong bet to pick first overall, but the standings — the bottom of them, at least — have tightened in recent days. Here’s a look at the contenders, so to speak … 

White Sox (63-92): No team went into tank mode this year quite like Chicago, with trades of just about every big piece on the roster. But a funny thing has happened … they’ve actually played decent baseball down the stretch. The White Sox are 11-12 in September after a blowout of the Royals on Sunday. They finish up with four against the Angels and three against the Indians, so they should get pretty close to 100 losses. 

Phillies (62-94): They have looked all along like the team to beat, but they hurt their top-pick chances by taking three of four from the Dodgers last week. They host the Nationals and Mets this week. 

Tigers (62-94): All of a sudden, they’re the biggest road block for the Giants. The Tigers have lost seven straight and they’re 4-20 in September. They finish up with three against the Royals and three against the Twins, and all six games are on the road. 

Giants (61-95): Can we stop for a moment and appreciate this. We’ve been talking about it for five months, but still, it’s pretty amazing that a $200 million team is headed into the final week with a very good shot at having the worst record in Major League Baseball. What an awful season this has been. Having said that, the Giants have not shown any signs of actually tanking, and manager Bruce Bochy said this weekend that he won’t shut any players down. So, it’s on to Phoenix, where the Giants have lost six of seven this season but the Diamondbacks might chill out a bit after clinching a postseason spot. They’ll face Zack Godley, Robbie Ray and Zack Greinke. The season ends with three at home against the Padres. The Giants have struggled against the Padres for the last year and a half, but they’ll have Matt Cain going in an emotional start and Madison Bumgarner will also get a game. 

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

Given another look at fastball, Williamson gets revenge against Kershaw

LOS ANGELES — Mac Williamson was sent up to pinch-hit when the Giants faced Clayton Kershaw earlier this month, and on a two-strike count, he watched as Kershaw shook off five different signs as he stood on the mound. Kershaw then froze Williamson with a fastball. It was a good lesson for Williamson, a player still trying to find his footing at the big league level.

“He’s a guy you can’t really guess with,” Williamson said. 

The outfielder admits he tends to overthink things. “I’m a perfectionist,” he said Sunday. But given a start against Kershaw, Williamson let his talent — and a little luck — take over. Williamson’s first hit off Kershaw was a bleeder that resulted in an infield hit. His second bounced through the middle of the infield for a single. The third one was the highlight of the day for the Giants. 

Kershaw had a shutout going when he tried to sneak a first-pitch fastball past Williamson in the eighth. He blasted it to dead center. It was the only run for the Giants in a 3-1 loss to the Dodgers. 

“It’s good to see him get those swings off,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “That homer was to the big part of the park. It shows how strong he is.”

The Giants have always known Williamson has the strength and raw talent. He hasn’t stuck for a number of reasons, including injuries and that aforementioned tendency sometimes to overthink at the plate. It probably hasn’t helped, either, that the Giants tend to sit him for days at a time and then play him against the Kershaws and Zack Greinkes and Rich Hills of the world. 

Williamson took advantage of the tough assignment on Sunday, joining a small group of Giants who have three hits in a game off Kershaw. 

“Hunter was ahead of me,” he said, smiling. “He beat me to it.”

Pence also had three hits, giving the Giants six from the corners against the best pitcher in the game. It wasn’t enough, but for Williamson, it was something to build off as the offseason approaches. He said it’s a winter he doesn’t plan to take lightly. Williamson’s agents are working to line up a Winter Ball job in the Dominican Republic.