Giant Olympians?

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Giant Olympians?

Programming note: Giants-Cardinals coverage gets underway today at 4:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live, followed by live baseball from St. Louis, only on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area!

DENVER Ryan Theriot thought deeply on the question:Which of his Giants teammates could win an Olympic gold medal, and in what event?I would probably win what is it, the decathlon? Theriot said. Yeah. Id win that. Because Im a freak athlete.Baseball is no longer a medal sport (the recently traded Nate Schierholtz won a bronze in Beijing four years ago), but there are plenty of Olympic endeavors some more random than others -- that use similar skills. And baseball players come in all shapes and sizes, from lithe Tim Lincecum to the rotund Kung Fu Panda.Surely these world-class athletes could find their way to some medal stand in London, right?Oh, no joke, said Brandon Belt, shortly after watching the American swimmers dominate the 4x100 medley relay. Im undefeated in the Nacogdoches city pool. I turned away all challengers. I swim like a fish. I could probably do the medley, but freestyle is my thing.Anyone want to get behind a freestylebelt hashtag?Ill either swim the freestyle or, you know what, I could play ping-pong, Belt said. Id do that. People dont account for my left-handedness.Theriot rolled his eyes.Have you seen those guys? Theriot said. You wouldnt win one point.What if you combined swimming and table tennis into one event? Its no less random than the winter biathlon, where you cross-country ski and shoot a rifle, right?Thats not a bad idea, Belt said. That might be my best chance.Speaking of marksmanship, several players suggested Jeremy Affeldt would hold his own in an archery competition. And as head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said, If it involves shooting something, Ill take Bumgarner.Yes, Madison Bumgarner was a popular mention in any of the various events involving firearms. The big left-hander actually has won a few long-distance 5-shot and 10-shot competitions in North Carolina.Can I use a scope? he said.Sure. Why not? Would he always use the same gun?Nope, he said. Ive got lots of guns.Left-hander Javier Lopez said Bumgarner might be the Giants best chance at a medal.Because theres no actual physical activity, Lopez said.Well, baseball players are pretty good at throwing. So maybe Pablo Sandoval could heave a shot put and Melky Cabrera, who has unleashed a few missiles to the plate this season, could be one heck of a left-handed javelin thrower (following in the footsteps of onetime international javelin competitor Felipe Alou).As for the discus?Give me Hunter Pence, Giants third base coach Tim Flannery said. You see the way he throws from down there? There you go.Pence received mentions in several categories, actually. Manager Bruce Bochy shared Flannerys notion of the discus throw. Lopez suggested Pence looks kind of like a beach volleyball guy to me.Yeah, Ive played a little beach volleyball, but I dont know, Pence said. Ive got long arms, but I cant extend them. And if its anything to do with throwing, Ill take our pitchers. Weve got a pretty good pitching staff here.This reporter suggested that Pence, with his long legs and upper body strength, might do well in sculls or one of the other rowing events.Rowing? Yeah, that might be my best shot, Pence said. Its endurance and back strength. I could see myself being decent.Brad Penny told shortstop Brandon Crawford that he could medal in one of the rowing events as hard as that might be to envision.I dont see it either, but Ill take his word for it, Crawford said.Lets put down Penny for Greco-Roman wrestling, instead.But lest we forget, baseball is a team sport. And there were several players who suggested a dynamic badminton duo of Theriot and Tim Lincecum.Theriot would win at badminton, Pence said. Hes got the quickness and the hand-eye coordination. Hes got the squirrelly mannerisms.Right-hander Clay Hensley mentioned that Buster Posey would make a good water polo goalie, since hes always blocking scuds in the dirt. And he embraced the badminton idea for Lincecum as well.Hey Timmy, would you be good at badminton? Hensley asked.Yes, Lincecum said, matter-of-factly. Id be pretty good at fencing, too.Just make sure Affeldt doesnt get near a foil or epee. Remember, this is the guy who stabbed his hand last year while trying to separate frozen hamburger patties. Its a miracle Affeldt didnt cut himself when he handled the Samurais sword given to Matt Cain after he pitched his perfect game.Posey had a safer suggestion for Affeldt:I can see Affeldt in beach volleyball because of his superior physique, Posey said, trying to swallow a smile. If you ask him, hell tell you how good hed look out there. Oh yeah, the Speedo put him and Bumgarner on a team. Now youre talking.Posey couldnt come up with an event for himself, leading Crawford to moan, Im sure Buster would win in anything hed be in.And as for Crawford?Well, for me I guess I played basketball in high school, he said.A member of the Dream Team? Crawford and LeBron and Kobe, finishing on a break?Sure, why not? Crawford said.If you want an out-there suggestion, Theriot is your man. He kept coming back with more ideas, including bench coach Ron Wotus in that run-walk thing.Ive got it. Ive got it, said Theriot, rushing back to offer one more wild thought. Romo and Wilson synchronized diving. Maybe representing the country of Mars.OK, time for some practical suggestions. Lets ask strength and conditioning coach Carl Kochan, who knows these players physical skills and potential better than anyone:Ill take Affeldt at archery, Bum with shooting, Javier Lopez with the bikevelodrome thing Kochan said. Ill take (Gregor) Blanco playing soccer and maybe Hector Sanchez, too.
He can do some tricks with a soccer ball. Lets go with Melky in the javelin and Pablo in the shot put. And Angel Pagan with boxing.Boxing?Sure, Kochan said. Hes quick, explosive, powerful, selective everything he does has a purpose. Boxing is very technical. I think hed be good at it.Pagan said he laced up the gloves a few times while growing up in Puerto Rico. But hed rather take his chances in the 100 meters or 200 meters. And he likes Bumgarner in the javelin, but only if he has animals he can aim it at.And Pagan had a little fun with Aubrey Huff, who face-planted while trying to jump the dugout rail after Matt Cains perfect game.Hey Huffy, Pagan said. How about the 110-meter hurdles?Huff shot him a look that said everything.But in all this discussion, both silly and serious, weve left out the obvious: Lincecum, the gymnast.He has a spine-bending delivery. He walks on his hands. He can do backflips on command. Its a given, right?Great call, oh, great call, Kochan said. Id take him in the floor exercise because hes like a freaky spider monkey.Id like his chances in the all-around, Theriot said.Lincecum said he never tried organized gymnastics as a kid, but he thought about it.It was more climbing trees, messing around, jumping on a trampoline he said.Trampoline? Really? Hey Timmy, you do realize that trampoline is an Olympic event, right?Noooo.its not, Lincecum said. Seriously?Seriously.

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

BELT RIVER FIELDS, Ariz. — Earlier this spring, Brandon Belt moved his schedule around so he could get additional at-bats. That led to some random trips across the desert, but there was never any doubt Belt would be in Friday’s road lineup.

Belt demolishes the ball at Salt River Fields, spring home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. After coming out of Friday’s win, he shook his head in mock disgust when talking about the day’s stats.

“One for four, you’ve gotta be kidding me,” Belt said. “That’s terrible.”

That one happened to be a homer, a three-run shot off Jon Gray, the likely opening day starter for the Rockies. Belt thought he crushed the ball but it ended up pretty high, so it simply dropped onto the berm in right. 

“It squeaked out,” Belt said. “Good mojo, I guess.”

The mojo kept his remarkable run going at Salt River. His updated career stats here: 22 for 35, with eight homers, four doubles, one triple and 18 RBI. Belt said he’s not quite sure why he turns into the flames emoji every time he steps onto this field. 

“I don’t know what it is, but I like hitting here,” he said. “Maybe it’s the batter’s eye?”

Salt River has a dark green batter’s eye with no distractions on either side, and the Giants certainly saw the ball well Friday. They had seven straight hits in the third before Gray was pulled with a sore foot. Belt hit second, and manager Bruce Bochy said that wasn’t simply because Joe Panik had the day off. Bochy will look at several different lineup permutations over the next week, and a Span/Belt/Pence/Posey/Crawford one-through-five is one option. 

“I like (that spot) a lot,” Belt said. “I feel good getting started and knowing I’ll get to bat in the first inning. It’s a good spot. I don’t think my approach changes that much: Get a pitch to hit and try to hit it hard.”

GAME RECAP: Jeff Samardzija was sharp in four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. He threw about 45 pitches on the field and then went down to the bullpen for 45 more. Samardzija certainly benefited from having Buster Posey back in the lineup. He said Posey noticed during warmups that Samardzija’s delivery was a little flat and his arm was dragging too low. 

“That doesn’t happen often,” Samardzija said of having a guy like Posey back there. “You have a lot of catchers who are afraid to say something.”

The rest of this one was a laugher until the ninth, when the Rockies rallied and brought the winning run to the plate. It hasn’t been a great spring for the bullpen.

STOCK WATCH: Chris Marrero hit a deep homer, his seventh of the spring. He also made a nice pick at first, where he looks much more comfortable. At this point, it appears it’s either Marrero or Kelby Tomlinson for that final bench spot.

TRAINER’S ROOM: The news on Will Smith was as expected. He will have Tommy John surgery next week. 

There is good news for Trevor Brown: The catcher, who has a sore ankle, took some swings and he’s feeling much better. Brown did not, as first reported, get hurt hiking on an off day. It happened during a game. Brown won’t be ready in time to return to Cactus League action, so he’ll likely stay here during the Bay Bridge Series and then travel home with Triple-A Sacramento. 

ICYMI: Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Mark Melancon are back in camp. Here’s a story on Posey’s WBC experience, with the catcher saying he’d like to play again in four years. Here’s Crawford on his month, which ended with him giving an NL West rival a slump-busting bat. 

ROSTER UPDATE: The Giants released David Hernandez, at his request. They have started to tell others that they’re not making the opening day roster, so there should be a series of minor transactions this weekend. (You know where to go.)

QUOTABLE: "I swung at a heater and a slider went right into my bat. I was happy to be able to track (pitches), and happy that the next time the bunt didn't go off my beautiful face." -- Samardzija, when asked about his double off the wall. 

Plenty of high-profile MLB players wearing new uniforms in 2017

Plenty of high-profile MLB players wearing new uniforms in 2017

Chris Sale traded socks (AP) -- or Sox - from white to red. Edwin Encarnacion took his big bat to Cleveland. Aroldis Chapman returned to the Bronx.

Plenty of All-Stars, Cy Young winners and MVPs are wearing new uniforms this season.

The biggest move occurred when the Boston Red Sox acquired Sale from the Chicago White Sox. The five-time All-Star left-hander left a team that hasn't reached the playoffs since 2008 for one that's won three World Series titles since 2004.

Encarnacion left Toronto for the team that beat the Blue Jays in last year's ALCS. He averaged 39 homers and 110 RBIs over the past five seasons in Toronto and gives the Indians a major boost.

Chapman is back in New York after spending the first half of last season with the Yankees before he was traded to the Chicago Cubs and helped them win the World Series.

Here's a 25-man roster of familiar faces in different places this season:

STARTING LINEUP

1. CF: Dexter Fowler. Jumped from World Series champion Cubs to rival St. Louis. Gives the Cardinals stability atop the batting order.

2. RF: Adam Eaton. Traded from White Sox to defending NL East champion Nationals. He'll play center field in Washington between Jayson Werth and Bryce Harper.

3. DH: Kendrys Morales. Joined Blue Jays to help fill Encarnacion's void after spending past two seasons with the Royals.

4. 1B: Encarnacion.

5. C: Brian McCann. Traded from Yankees to Astros, giving Houston's stacked lineup another slugger.

6. SS: Ian Desmond. Returns to NL to join Rockies after one season playing outfield in Texas. He'll play first base for Colorado, but he's back at shortstop on this squad.

7. LF: Matt Holliday. Signed with Yankees following 7 1/2 seasons in St. Louis. The seven-time All-Star will likely DH in New York though he'll see some action in left field.

8. 2B: Brandon Phillips. Waived no-trade clause to go to rebuilding Braves after 11 seasons with Reds.

9. 3B: Howie Kendrick. Comes east after spending his entire career in Los Angeles - nine seasons with Angels and last two with Dodgers. Kendrick is playing left field for Philadelphia but he starts at third to fill this lineup.

BENCH

1B: Chris Carter. Landed with Yankees after swatting 41 homers for Milwaukee last season to tie for NL lead.

INF: Jimmy Rollins. Former NL MVP is trying to land a roster spot with San Francisco as a utility man after playing all but one-third inning of his 17-year career at shortstop. Has bounced from Dodgers to White Sox to Giants after 15 seasons in Philadelphia.

OF: Michael Saunders. All-Star for Blue Jays last season and will start in right field for Phillies.

OF: Carlos Beltran. Returns to Houston after spending half the 2004 season with the Astros and hitting eight postseason homers for them.

C: Matt Wieters. Left Baltimore for Washington to replace All-Star Wilson Ramos, who joined Tampa Bay and is still recovering from knee surgery.

STARTING ROTATION

Sale.

Edinson Volquez. Goes from Royals to Marlins.

Jaime Garcia. Lefty joins Braves after eight seasons in St. Louis.

Jered Weaver. Stays in California, switching to Padres after 11 seasons with Angels.

R.A. Dickey. Knuckleballer returns to NL East after four seasons in Toronto. One of two 40-plus former Cy Young award winners signed by Braves.

LONG RELIEVER

Bartolo Colon. Other veteran Braves signed to bolster rotation. He'll be long man on this staff.

BULLPEN

Chapman.

Mark Melancon. Signed with Giants after finishing last season in Washington.

Sergio Romo. Went from San Francisco to rival Dodgers.

Wade Davis. Traded from Royals to Cubs to replace Chapman.

Santiago Casilla. Stays in Bay Area, going from Giants to A's.