EXTRAS: Speed thrills, Romo's standing O, five-man rotation

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EXTRAS: Speed thrills, Romo's standing O, five-man rotation

PEORIA, Ariz. -- After a dismal offensive output last season, Bruce Bochy andBrian Sabean have expressed a desire for the Giants lineup to utilize morespeed this season.In a 5-2 win over the Padres Thursday in Peoria, the Giants didjust that, attempting eight stolen bases, four of which were successful.Two of the thefts belonged to Gregor Blanco, who isfollowing up his MVP performance in the Venezuelan winter league with a strongstart to spring training.The non-roster invitee added two hits and a walk with tworuns scored as Bochys designated hitter out of the sixth spot on Thursday andis now hitting .429 with four steals in Cactus League play.
While Aubrey Huff, Brandon Belt, Brett Pill and EmmanuelBurriss are all infielders capable of playing in the outfield, youd betterbelieve the Giants would consider leaving a roster spot open for Blanco, whowould offer Bochy a more prototypical fourth outfielder.

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Another outfielder with wheels fighting for a job showcased his talents on Thursday.Tyler Graham is still looking for his first hit of the spring but demonstrated why speed never slumps.In the third inning, Graham hit a fairly routine ground ball to shortstop, but his hustle up the baseline forced Andy Parrino to hurry the throw, which was offline and resulted in an error.Graham then got himself into scoring position with a steal and came around to plate the Giants' second run on Angel Pagan's single up the middle.
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Bochy called on reliever Clay Hensley to make his springdebut in the seventh inning, and the 32-year old righty delivered a scorelessinning with a strikeout.Hensley waited a long time to pitch in a San Francisco Giantsuniform. He was selected by the club in the eighth round of the 2002 draft andlast pitched for the franchise as a 23-year-old member of the San Jose Giantsin 2003, when he was traded for reliever Matt Herges.--Sergio Romo followed Hensley with a scoreless eighth inning,which included two strikeouts and a reminder of how deadly his Frisbee slideris when he keeps it low and away from right-handed hitters.Romo rode that slider to a career year in 2011, as he put upa 1.50 ERA with 70 strikeouts compared to just five walks. He also completed arelievers perfect game with 27 consecutive outs recorded. No wonder he got a standing ovation from the (no surprise,really) pro-Giants crowd at Peoria Sports Complex.--Eric Surkamp is scheduled to make his first start of thespring Sunday against Seattle. Tim Lincecum is scheduled to pitch the followingday as the Giants move to give their starters the standard four days of rest.Its unclear if Lincecum will start a minor league game ortake the mound against the Kansas City Royals in Surprise. The two-time CyYoung award winner allowed five runs in two innings in his last outing onWednesday.Surkamp, who may start the season with the big-league club ifRyan Vogelsong cant start due to back issues, has an 8.31 ERA so far. After a roughfirst outing on March 3, the 24-year-old lefty rebounded Wednesday with threeinnings of one-run ball.--The Giants used speed and small ball to put most of theirruns on the board Thursday against the Padres, but got a big fly from anunexpected source. Outfielder Juan Perez, who has all of 26 home runs in almost1,500 minor league at-bats since the Giants drafted him in the 13th roundin 2008, hit a tape-measure solo shot off Padres reliever Cory Burns. Burns threw changeups on three of the first five pitches of the at bat to getahead of Perez 1-2. But Perez sat on the changeup on the sixth pitch and sentit over the left-field fence for a home run in his only plate appearance of theday.While the power hasnt been there in his professionalcareer, Perez owns the NCAA Division II single-season home run record, whichhe earned by hitting 37 at Western Oklahoma State in 2008.--After the game, Bochy confirmed that Freddy Sanchez wouldserve as the Giants designated hitter Friday against the Reds.Like Buster Posey, Sanchez will get his first licks of thespring in against flame-throwing Cincinnati lefty Aroldis Chapman.
BAGGARLY: Posey will get 100-mph test in spring debut
The concern with Sanchez, who hasnt played since dislocatinghis shoulder diving for a ground ball in June, is his ability to make throws,not swing the bat, which is why Bochy plans to let him DH. Theres still notimetable for putting him in a game at second base.--An Angels scout who was kicked out of Scottsdale Stadium Wednesdayreceived an explanatory call from manager Bruce Bochy later that night.
REWIND: Bochy doesn't apologize after booting Angels scout
Jeff Schugel, who was shocked to be sent packing duringinfield drills, talked with Bochy about the incident. The Giants manager told Schugel that he was working on a specificdrill that he didnt want seen and didnt mean anything by it.

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner aims to get all 27 outs every time he takes the mound, but on Tuesday the coaching staff gave the ace a nice view of the man who will help out if his nights are cut short. 

Bumgarner threw his first live batting practice session of the spring on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. Mark Melancon, the new closer, followed him. Both players said they felt good. Both also found things to work on in advance of opening day. 

“Strength-wise I felt pretty good, really good, actually,” Bumgarner said. “My command up in the zone was right where I want it. I’m pretty happy with that. My cutter was pretty straight, but that usually comes around pretty quick.”

Melancon didn’t even throw his go-to cutter, saying he usually pockets it until later in camp. He’s getting the feel for his curveball back because he doesn’t throw it until he reports. Like Bumgarner, Melancon said he’s where he needs to be physically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In years past there has been some slowness but I don’t feel that this year. I’m right where I want to be.”

The Giants have not finalized a Cactus League rotation, but Bumgarner will likely throw an inning in Friday’s opener. Melancon could follow him, as he’ll throw in the early innings until late March. He said he’ll talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about closing a game or two over the final days of camp so he can start locking his routine down. It’s probably a lock that he’ll close out that first Bay Bridge Series game back at AT&T Park. 

ICYMI: Here’s actual (shaky) footage of Bumgarner throwing today. At one point, he gave Denard Span a hard time for missing a slider that he was told was coming. Span had a good reason. “I didn't understand him when he said it because of his accent,” he said. 

ICYMI, PART II: The latest podcast is a couple of interviews with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Law explained how he ordered 800 chicken nuggets for his wedding. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants now expect Johnny Cueto to join camp this weekend. His status for the WBC is up in the air. Speaking of the WBC, trainer Dave Groeschner will be leaving camp on Feb. 27 to work with manager Hensley Meulens and the Netherlands. Bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu is also working with the team, which opens play in Seoul. Anthony Reyes will be head trainer while Groeschner is gone.

PROSPECT WATCH: Bruce Bochy said right-hander Ray Black was a standout during early live BP sessions. “He had a hell of an outing yesterday,” Bochy said. “They said he was really good.”   Black, 26, still throws 100-plus. He still has command issues, though, with 32 walks in 31 1/3 innings last year. If he can get over that hump and stay healthy, he might rocket to the big leagues.

QUOTABLE: After just about every start last season — most of which were dominant — Bumgarner said he wasn’t happy with his mechanics. He said Tuesday that he’s still searching for the perfect feeling. “I was being a perfectionist,” he said. “If you’re being a perfectionist, I really haven’t had (my mechanics) where I wanted the last couple of years. It’s not like it’s too far off, obviously.”

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants have been watching high-quality clips of Johnny Cueto all spring, even though the co-ace has remained in the Dominican Republic. On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy finally managed to get face-to-face with Cueto. Kind of. 

Cueto spoke to Bochy, trainer Dave Groeschner and others via FaceTime, and all involved finally managed to hammer out a schedule for Cueto’s arrival. Cueto has been in the Dominican Republic tending to his ill father, Domingo, but he is expected to arrive in Scottsdale this weekend. Cueto is working to secure a visa for his father, who will travel with him.

Bochy wanted to have a long discussion with Cueto to get a sense of how ready he’ll be for the World Baseball Classic. Cueto’s participation is still up in the air, and not just because he has missed the first week of camp. There is a chance, Bochy said, that Cueto will choose to stay in Scottsdale to continue taking care of his father. The Dominican Republic opens play in Miami on March 9.

“He said he knows he’s got to make a decision real soon regarding what he does,” Bochy said. “Pitching or not pitching, he’s got to let them know as soon as possible.”

Cueto has been throwing to hitters at a facility in Boca Chica. He threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.