EXTRAS: Surkamp's success, injury updates, Batman vs. Superman

547550.jpg

EXTRAS: Surkamp's success, injury updates, Batman vs. Superman

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After starting his spring with a roughouting, Eric Surkamp allowed one run in three innings for the second straightstart Sunday against the Seattle Mariners.Surkamp limited the Mariners to three hits, didnt walk a batter andstruck out three. He threw 29 of his 43 pitches for strikes and was throwingboth his curveball and slider.In his first start of the spring, the young lefty allowed three runs in just1.1 innings, but he has rebounded since.Hes been better each time out, Giants manger Bruce Bochysaid. He looks confident, threw more strikes, had a better rhythm.Surkamp was happy with how he mixed in a lot of breakingballs against the Mariners.RELATED: Posey plays four innings, nabs base-stealer
I left a couple of them up in the zone that I got away with, but for the mostpart I was pretty happy with keeping it down, he said. I felt like it hadgood bite to it.--Surkamp would likely be called upon to be the Giants No. 5 starter if RyanVogelsong starts the season on the disabled list, but the 2011 Willie Mac Awardwinner is making progress after throwing 35 pitches in a bullpen sessionSunday.The plan is for Vogelsong to throw another 45 pitches in thebullpen in a couple of days.

They want me to make sure my stamina is okay and everything first, Vogelsongsaid. But everything feels good; back feels good, arm feels good.Bochy was happy with Vogelsongs bullpen, but is definitely playing it safe.The back can be quirky, Bochy said. You want to makesure hes 100 before you start getting live action. You dont need a setback.Now youre looking at a longer period of time before he comes back so we arebeing a little cautious.RELATED: Posey helps Wilson make scoreless spring debutBochy said the Giants dont need a fifth starter until April15th against the Pittsburgh Pirates, which gives Vogelsong more timeto get healthy.--In other injured Giants news, Nate Schierholtz toldreporters that he bruised his hip playing Saturday.Schierholtz was taking batting practice on Sunday, however, and said he "feelsfine" and expects to play Monday.--Another day, another two home run game from a Giants catchingprospect.After Tommy Joseph launched two balls over the left-fieldfence Saturday, Hector Sanchez matched him with two home runs, one from eitherside of the plate.The switch-hitting catcher is now batting .500 with three home runs and eightRBIs in just 14 at-bats.--

Gregor Blanco continues to makea case for a 25-man roster spot.The non-roster invitee went 2-for-3 and stole his fifth base of the spring.He could offer Bochy speed and defense off the bench as the teams fourthoutfielder if they decide to dedicate a spot to him on the Opening Day roster.--As the Giants were stretching early Sunday morning, Brian Wilson and TimLincecum were keeping it loose by arguing about who would win in a fight between Superman and Batman.Its an age-old debate and one that Craig Calcaterra of Harball Talk is morequalified to settle, so Ill let him take it from here.

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)