EXTRAS: Cabrera's cannon, Bochy's lineup plans, etc.

681558.jpg

EXTRAS: Cabrera's cannon, Bochy's lineup plans, etc.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera did somenice things in their first game as the Giants 1-2 punch.
Pagan singled and stole a base in the Giants 9-6 loss toArizona at Scottsdale Stadium. Cabrera debuted with a double, an RBI and alaser beam throw from left field.Pagan and Cabrera will bat in the Nos. 1-2 spots again forSundays split squad against the Diamondbacks, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.Thats the way well play it, Bochy said. Until (FreddySanchez) comes back, thats what youre going to see.

Bochy also confirmed he is leaning toward Pablo Sandoval inthe No. 3 spot once Buster Posey returns as the cleanup hitter. Sandoval hitfourth on Saturday and probably will bat in the same spot in one of Sundayslineup; Posey wont play in either game, Bochy said.Pagan, Cabrera and Sandoval would give the Giants a trio ofswitch-hitters to send against opposing pitchers in the first inning.Although Sanchez has been a No. 2 hitter most of his career,the Giants might need his right-handed bat to break up the lower half of theorder. They look to be very left-handed with Aubrey Huff (or Brandon Belt),plus Nate Schierholtz and Brandon Crawford.Youll see some different lineups, Bochy said. Really,thats something Ill enjoy, with the flexibility and versatility. But forright now, yes, the lean is toward Pablo third.--

Cabrera has been a very quiet guy thus far this spring. Ididnt really know much about him, to be honest. Playing in the American Leaguewith Kansas City last season, I didnt see much of his breakout season. (He wasa much different hitter with Atlanta in 2010, when he and pretty much therest of the injury-riddled Braves lineup couldnt turn around a fastball inthe NLDS.)So as the Giants took the field for the first Cactus Leaguegame, I was more interested to see Cabrera than any other player.We saw something pretty remarkable right away. In the firstinning, Tim Lincecum gave up a single with runners at second and third. Cabreracharged the ball and made a clothesline throw that reached catcher ChrisStewart on the fly. Justin Upton was beaten to the plate by 20 feet and slowedinto Stewarts tag.Barry Bonds didnt have that arm in left field. Neither didPat Burrell. I cant think of the last time the Giants had an above average armat that position. Can you?Pagan also profiles as an above average defender in centerfield, although not in Andres Torres class. Pagans 10 errors last season(mostly throwing) were a concern. Sure enough, he made an error on his firstchance as a Giant when he overran a single.Bochy didnt mind that, though. He had sent a message toboth outfielders that he wants them to play all-out.Yeah, weve talked about that, with baserunning and howthey play the outfield, Bochy said. We want them to charge the ball and beaggressive. So I dont have any problem with that.--

The sellout crowd of 12,127 cheered a little louder thannormal when Aubrey Huff worked an eight-pitch walk in the first inning. Lestyou be reminded, Huffs walks plummeted from 83 in 10 to 47 last season.Heres a stunner I dug up: His on-base percentage droppedfrom .385 in 10 (10th best in the NL) to .306 last season (eighthworst).Huff also fell victim to the play of the game. In his nextplate appearance, he absolutely crushed a ball almost 420 feet to dead center.Chris Young battled the wind and the sun while making a diving catch on thewarning track.Huff didnt throw up his hands. He just jogged back to thedugout.The wind was no small factor on that Young catch, either. Thebreezy conditions twice victimized Nate Schierholtz on balls over his head inright field.--

The other play of the game: Giants second baseman JoaquinArias butchered a grounder but managed to slap it with his glove to shortstop EmmanuelBurriss for a forceout. Bet he spent all winter practicing that one.Actually, Arias is an interesting guy to watch this spring. Hewas a onetime hot prospect with the Royals and Giants special assistant FelipeAlou said he was one of the most dominant players in the Dominican League thiswinter.--

Center fielder Gregor Blanco was just as dominant in theVenezuelan League while winning MVP honors. Blanco had the biggest hit inThursdays intrasquad game, legging out a triple.I was in the clubhouse standing next to Pablo Sandoval whenBlanco made solid contact. We could see it on a closed-circuit TV feed.You hang it, he bang it, shouted Sandoval, shaking his headin amazement.Perhaps the next best hitter in Venezuela this winter wasswitch-hitting catcher Hector Sanchez. He kept up his stroke with a solo shotoff right-hander Sam Demel in the seventh inning.--

Eric Surkamps first outing of the spring was not very good.He struggled to get his pitches down in the zone and ran a lot of deep countswhile allowing three runs in 1 13 innings. Chris Young took him deep. Surkamp alsospent a lot of time practicing his pickoff move. So it wasnt over quickly,either.--

This mornings post about Dan Runzler (strained lat muscle)has been updated, but in case you missed it, Bochy said the initial diagnosisis that the left-hander would need to rest for at least three to four weeksbefore he could begin throwing again. The club will wait to see if Dr. Andrewsconcurs with that opinion before they plot out an official timetable.--

Cody Ross had quite a debut with the Boston Red Sox. He hita solo home run and later followed that up with a grand slam.The Red Sox were playing Northeastern University. They won25-0.Just more proof that Northwestern > Northeastern.

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

Giants respond to Melancon report: 'It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds'

SAN FRANCISCO — As reporters approached Mark Melancon’s locker Monday afternoon, the closer looked up at a clubhouse clock and smiled.

“I guess it’s 3:30,” he said softly. 

A year ago at this time, Giants relievers would have been out in left field jogging and playing catch. The routine was changed a week into the season, and players, coaches and management expressed confusion and frustration Monday about how that became the centerpiece of a FOX Sports article portraying the clubhouse as “boring” and a problem.

The piece, written by Ken Rosenthal and posted Monday morning, said Melancon “rubbed some teammates the wrong way early in the season by putting an end to the bullpen’s 3:30 p.m. stretching session before night games, a practice that the relievers began in 2012.”

Several players mocked the concept as they stretched Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy called it a non-story.

“It’s pole vaulting over mouse turds,” he said. 

Melancon defended the move, saying it was made collectively by the revamped bullpen and staff. He said the Giants decided to be better about time management, noting that it did not make sense for the relievers to run and throw an hour before going back on the field with the rest of the team. The decision was made to instead focus on lifting, eating and doing other clubhouse work in the hours leading up to the 4:30 team stretch. 

“Really it’s nothing — it’s kind of funny it’s been raised,” Melancon said. “I was brought in to be a leader here and take ownership of the bullpen. In conversations with guys and the coaching staff, we decided to change the stretch time. It was the first series of the year, and from a time management standpoint, it’s been good. I’m shocked, but if this is the reason we’re pointing out (for the team’s record), please bring it on.

“We’re talking about stretching. Stretching,” Melancon added, joking he felt like Allen Iverson. 

The story also mentioned Melancon’s routine of spending the first six or seven innings in the clubhouse preparing to pitch. Melancon said he is usually in the bullpen by the fifth or sixth, and noted that that’s been the way of all closers he has worked under, from Mariano Rivera to Jonathan Papelbon. 

“I don’t know anyone who has had a problem with (my routine),” he said. 

His manager certainly doesn’t. Bochy said every closer he has managed did the same thing because they almost never pitch until the ninth. Of course, that’s where the real problem comes. Melancon has a 4.58 ERA and has blown four saves. He said that should have been the focus of any story about the Giants’ struggles. 

“I understand if you lose this many games there’s got to be something to blame, and I’ll take this blame on,” he said. “I haven’t pitched well … There are a lot of things I can be better at with my performance on the field, and that’s first and foremost.”

The Giants expected a bit more on the mound, and Melancon knows it. He owns that part of this. But they have no complaints, sources said, about anything he has done off the field. Several teammates noted Monday that Melancon has also been pitching hurt for a team that’s hopelessly buried in the standings. Melancon also had team employees remodel a small room behind the dugout — adding new seats, a flat screen TV, and inspirational quotes — so relievers were more comfortable while waiting to pitch.

Those are small changes, with nothing to do with how the team has played. And given the way the bullpen pitched last year, any change probably should have been welcomed. 

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

gyorkos-hernandez-giants-white-night.jpg
AP

Giants lineup: Hernandez in, Slater out

Bud Black and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series opener at AT&T Park:

Rockies (47-31) 
1. Charlie Blackmon (L) CF
2. DJ LeMahieu (R) 2B
3. Nolan Arenado (R) 3B
4. Mark Reynolds (R) 1B
5. Raimel Tapia (L) RF
6. Ian Desmond (R) LF
7. Trevor Story (R) SS
8. Tony Wolters (L) C
9. German Marquez (R) P (5-3, 3.92 ERA)

Giants (27-51)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Ryder Jones (L) 3B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (2-9, 4.74 ERA)