EXTRAS: Crawford not just a glove, Sandoval's first spring shot

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EXTRAS: Crawford not just a glove, Sandoval's first spring shot

All that talk about Brandon Crawford being all glove and nobat might start to die down if the Giants second-year shortstop has moredays like he did Saturday.Crawford went 2-for-3 with a double, a triple and three RBIs in a split squadblowout win over the Brewers and is now batting .429 with nine total bases andsix RBIs in just 14 at-bats.For all the doubts about his ability to hit big-leaguepitching, Giants manager Bruce Bochy has been insistent that Crawford will behis starting shortstop and batting eighth on Opening Day.I really think hes going to contribute to this offense,Bochy said. He made a couple adjustments with his swing. Hes worked hard atit and hes playing with a lot of confidence right now on both sides. Its goodto see him get some hits.

--Pablo Sandoval connected on his first home run of the spring, and it was ano-doubter, one that wouldve ended up in McCovey Cove had the game been playedin San Francisco.
RELATED: Joseph impresses Bochy with two HR day
He hit that pretty good, didnt he?, Bochy said. Hes trying to get histiming down and he had a better day today. He squared up on a couple balls.While were here I know hes been working hard on both ends. Good to see himget some good swings off today.Before the game, Sandoval was putting on a show in batting practice, flashingthe power stroke that led to 25 home runs in 2009 and 23 last season in only426 at-bats.--In the other split squad game in Tempe, the Giants lost to the Angels 9-5, butgot a home run from Aubrey Huff, his second of the spring.Huff was the only Giant to have a multi-hit game. As the DH again, FreddySanchez went 1-for-3 with a run scored.Conor Gillaspie doubled in his only hit in four at-bats, while Gregor Blancosingled and was caught stealing for the first time in five attempts thisspring.RELATED: Giants split; beat Brewers, fall to Angels
Shane Loux, who started the game opposite C.J. Wilson, allowed three runs (twoearned) on four hits and a walk in 2.1 innings.--The plan is still for Buster Posey to catch the first four innings of Sundaysgame against the Mariners.Buster came out of the last game really well so hell gofour innings, then Chris Stewart will pick him up, Bochy said. Thisll begood for Buster. Well get him a couple of at bats and hopefully get fourinnings out of him. Then the next day well have a good idea of how hes doing afterspending some time behind the plate.
NEWS: Wilson set to make Cactus League debut Sunday
--As I walked into the clubhouse to talk to players before thegame, two familiar faces were sitting at a table at the front entrance.The faces belonged to none other than Willie Mays and Willie McCovey. The twoare regulars at Scottsdale Stadium and supposedly will be joined by fellowGiants legends Gaylord Perry and Orlando Cepeda soon.

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

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Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Now dealing with a second blister, Cueto gives up three homers to Cubs

Now dealing with a second blister, Cueto gives up three homers to Cubs

CHICAGO — Even after losses, Johnny Cueto tends to find a way to flash a smile or two in post-game interviews. He is as competitive as it gets between the lines, but off the field he embraces a relaxed attitude. 

There was none of that Tuesday night at Wrigley. Cueto wore a dour look while describing a 4-1 loss to the Cubs, perhaps because he is a man searching for answers. Cueto was already pitching with a blister for the first time in his career. On Tuesday, he admitted he’s now trying to make the ball dance while dealing with a second blister. 

The first, on his middle finger, popped up at the end of the spring and has bothered Cueto off and on. The second, on his index finger, formed in St. Louis last week. 

“It’s not an excuse,” Cueto said several times. “I was getting hit.”

The Cubs crushed three homers, including a 470-foot bomb from Kyle Schwarber. All three pitches leaked right over the heart of the plate, and Cueto admitted that he can't get that final twist on the ball as he normally does. A tad of his movement is missing, and hitters are taking advantage. 

“It’s just those pitches I left hanging,” Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. “When you leave pitches hanging or put them right in the middle of the plate, you’re going to pay the price.”

The homers — by Schwarber, Jason Heyward and Anthony Rizzo — represented 60 percent of the hits Cueto gave up. He struck out eight in six innings.

“It’s a little unlike Johnny to make mistakes like that,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You like to think you could make a mistake and get away with it, but he didn’t tonight. A couple of fastballs he pulled over the heart of the plate and then one cutter.”

Catcher Buster Posey said the Cubs were on Cueto’s heater, so the duo tried to adjust. You can’t pitch without your fastball, though, and Cueto’s isn’t quite as explosive as it was in his first year with the Giants. The velocity is down a couple of ticks, but it’s unclear if that too is related to the blisters. 

What is clear is that Cueto is a different pitcher in his second season in San Francisco. He has a 4.64 ERA and opposing hitters are batting .253 with 11 homers. Through 10 starts last year, Cueto had a 2.83 ERA and was holding hitters to a .229 average. He had allowed just two homers. 

“Gosh, it’s just probably a few more mistakes than he made last year,” Bochy said. “He’s still competing so well and he gives you a chance to win every game.”

Cueto made it through six despite the long-ball issues, but that wasn’t enough against Jon Lester, who would have faced Cueto in Game 5 last October. Lester needed just 99 pitches to carve up the Giants for a complete game. He threw 70 strikes. 

That’s the type of efficient performance the Giants came to expect from Cueto last year. Cueto still expects it from himself, but his fingers aren’t cooperating. Asked if he would take a short stint on the DL to get right, Cueto said he can’t. He needs to keep pitching and have callouses form. Plus, any break without throwing would be a significant blow to a team trying desperately to stay within shouting distance of a playoff spot. 

“Basically, it makes no sense whatsoever,” to take a break, Cueto said.