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

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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.

Puerto Rico in scarce supply of hair dye amid World Baseball Classic fever

Puerto Rico in scarce supply of hair dye amid World Baseball Classic fever

AN JUAN, Puerto Rico -- Pharmacies and beauty stores across Puerto Rico are running out of hair dye with even a top economist joining men going blond in support of the island's baseball players who bleached their hair ahead of the World Baseball Classic.

What began as a joke among team members playing in California has spread across the island in a trend that spiked Tuesday just hours after Puerto Rico beat the Netherlands in 11 innings to reach the championship game undefeated in the tournament, which is held every four years. Puerto Rico will play Wednesday night in the final against the United States, which defeated Japan.

"Ever since they began winning, this has not stopped," said Myrna Rios, a manager at a Sally Beauty Supply store in the capital of San Juan. "We have run out of the product in most of our stores."

Copper blond, platinum blond, golden blond - all shades of blond (even burnt orange) are turning heads in a U.S. territory where the majority of men have thick, dark hair. Bald men dyed their beards or goatees in a nod to Puerto Rico coach Carlos Delgado.

"We have been able to unite our country with our blond hair," said star Carlos Correa, who hit a two-run homer and scored the winning run against the Netherlands. "That's what we want as players to unite our country, our people, and give them the best."

Men ranging from news anchors to university students to professionals have embraced a trend that has sparked the rallying cry of "Team Rubio!" or "Team Blond" in Spanish.

Among them is civil engineer Christian Rodriguez, who dyed his beard Saturday after visiting four different pharmacies to find the product he needed. At first, he didn't dye his hair as well because he thought it would be too much at church on Sunday. But he noticed six male churchgoers had dyed their hair blond and decided to take the plunge, calling a hair stylist friend to help him go platinum.

Rodriguez complained of an intense burning sensation during the two-hour process and sent pictures to his wife, who responded with the emoticon of a monkey with its eyes covered.

"Anything for my island!" he said as he lifted his arm to cheer the team.

Rodriguez then sent a picture of his dyed hair to his mechanic, who responded with a selfie taken underneath a car of him smiling with a bleached beard.

Puerto Rico's undefeated run to the championship has boosted the spirit of an island mired in a decade-long recession that faces a rocky recovery amid looming austerity measures for its government. Even young students have been sporting blond do's, prompting public schools to suspend them until the island's education secretary stepped in and said in a letter made public Tuesday that they should be allowed to dye their hair during the tournament.

"We wanted to do this to unite the team, and then the people of Puerto Rico, they started dying their hair, too," pitcher Edwin Diaz said. "I saw that there were some students that were suspended from school. I think they shouldn't be doing that because it just means that we have united our nation."

Even the prominent Puerto Rico-based economist Sergio Marxuach joined the trend, sporting yellow hair as he walked into a seminar in Puerto Rico on Wednesday, drawing laughs.

"My youngest son asked me, 'Why did you paint your hair like Donald Trump?'" he recalled with a laugh. "If this team can give us hope, we're going to need it given what's coming down the pipe."

Giants spring training Day 38: Cain still on track for fifth starter job

Giants spring training Day 38: Cain still on track for fifth starter job

MARYVALE, Ariz. — After a series of questions the other day about getting extra rest between starts, Madison Bumgarner smiled and pointed at the personalized calendar taped to his locker. He said he simply operates by the schedule set out by pitching coach Dave Righetti.

A glance at the calendar in Matt Cain’s locker might show a reason why the longest-tenured Giant is still in a good position to win the No. 5 starter spot despite continued spring struggles. Because they have two off days sandwiching a two-game series in Kansas City in the middle of April, the Giants can potentially use their No. 5 starter just twice until April 25, a span of 20 games.

If there’s any concern about Cain’s ability to hold up during the regular season, the early slate could help. The Giants can throw Cain against the Padres and Diamondbacks to start the season, and if it's not working out, they can go a stretch with just their top four as they reevaluate. 

"We'll see once we get a little closer how guys are doing, but it certainly gives you some options," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Cain has been preparing all along to start April 7 at Petco Park. That hasn’t changed.

“That’s what I’m looking at,” he said. “That’s the only thing I’m preparing for, to make sure I’m ready to go 100 pitches.”

Cain had another mixed-bag day against the Brewers. The first inning was full of loud contact and Cain was charged with three runs on four hits. But he settled down from there, allowing just one run over the next four innings. In all, Cain allowed four runs on seven hits and struck out four. He said he tried to change speeds more often after the early ambush. 

“I was maybe getting the timing different for them,” he said. “Those guys were getting balls where they could hit them. You’ve got to make a quick adjustment to that, and I had to do that.”

Cain threw 70 pitches, another sign that he’s locked in for April 7. His competition, Ty Blach, has not been fully stretched out this spring. 

TRAINER'S ROOM: Will Smith will head to Los Angeles on Thursday to get a second opinion on his left elbow strain. The Giants will then know if Smith needs Tommy John surgery, which would end his season. Eduardo Nuñez flew back to San Francisco with Smith earlier in the week to get a corisone shot in his sore right shoulder. He's back, but he'll be down a few days. 

GAME RECAP: Hunter Pence has been slumping for several weeks, but he got on the board in the sixth with a double that spun off the end of his bat and down the first base line. A classic Pence hit ... Jae-gyun Hwang hit a two-run shot to right-center ... Steven Okert did some nifty work to keep his spring ERA at 0.00. With runners on first and third and no outs, he got a double play and a fly ball to left.

ICYMI: Barry Bonds has arrived. Here is a story about his return to the Giants, and here’s video from his media session this morning. 

GOOD NEWS: First base coach Jose Alguacil returned to camp Wednesday morning, and he said he’s only a few days from returning to game action. Alguacil, who had surgery earlier in March after taking a line drive off the face, was cleared for full activity. Hensley Meulens, Dave Groeschner and Taira Uematsu also returned from a stint in the WBC. 

FLASHING THE LEATHER: Aaron Hill started the prettiest double play of the spring by snagging a Hernan Perez liner with a dive and making a perfect throw to second baseman Gordon Beckham. Hill later smashed a double into the left field corner. That dude is making the team. 

QUOTABLE: "I figured Barry is in town, so I'd show him how it's done." -- Denard Span on a very long two-run homer he hit to right.