Giants closer Melancon to join Team USA for WBC semifinal

Giants closer Melancon to join Team USA for WBC semifinal

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants waited too long to add closer Mark Melancon. Team USA isn't making the same mistake.

Melancon will join teammates Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford at Dodger Stadium this week for the final two games of the World Baseball Classic. The first-year Giant was added to the roster after the first round, and he said that was done with the understanding he would join for the semifinals if Team USA reached that point.

"I've watched a lot. I've enjoyed it. Knowing most of the guys in the games, it's been fun to watch the country pride that they have," Melancon said. "To me, some of it is ridiculous, but when you know them and understand their background and how big a deal culturally it is, you end up starting to get on board with the way they go about things." 

Melancon was asked to be part of the original roster, but he wanted to get comfortable with his new team. In eight spring innings, he hasn't allowed a run. He said he has started to think about how exciting it might be to close out a title run for his country, joking that he'll unbutton his shirt and flash the bow-and-arrow celebration. 

Either way, the Giants were losing a star pitcher after Saturday's game, a 6-3 win for the United States. If the Dominican Republic had won, Johnny Cueto would have pitched the semifinal game Tuesday night. Cueto was watching video of Japan earlier in the week and was excited to use his quick-pitches and shimmies to disrupt high leg kicks. When he walked into the clubhouse Sunday morning, Cueto was greeted with a "USA! USA!" chant. He smiled and laughed. 

"This is a game, and you have to know how to win and lose," he said. "I know some fans and players felt I didn't want to go but they know why I couldn't."

Cueto was supposed to be part of the Dominican team throughout the tournament, but he was three weeks late to camp while taking care of his ill father. He said he took some heat back home, and he had to block a few people on Twitter and Instagram because he was being called a traitor. 

"There was a lot of talk back home that I didn't want to play because I'm making too much money," he said. "They're saying that when other players like (Robinson) Cano who are making more than that are participating. Everyone should know that I didn't go because I wasn't ready. My arm wasn't ready. I truly wanted to represent my country."

 

Cain exits game vs Dodgers with trainer before start of seventh inning

Cain exits game vs Dodgers with trainer before start of seventh inning

Giants starting pitcher Matt Cain left Monday's game vs the Dodgers with the team's trainer prior to the start of the seventh inning.

NBC Sports Bay Area Plus cameras showed Cain heading straight to the team's locker room. 

Before exiting the game, Cain had pitched six innings and allowed just two hits. 

In this starts this season, Cain has a 3.31 ERA. 

Christian Arroyo Era kicks off early after third baseman's red-hot start

Christian Arroyo Era kicks off early after third baseman's red-hot start

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants threw Christian Arroyo right into the fire. He’ll bat sixth on Monday in the season’s first meeting with the rival Dodgers, and while it’s grossly unfair, Arroyo will shoulder massive expectations given the way this season has started.

All of that should be a piece of cake given what Arroyo did early Monday afternoon. The 21-year-old convinced a skeptical mother that he was telling her the truth. 

Arroyo found out around 1:30 p.m. that his dream of reaching the big leagues had been accomplished. After shedding a few tears in Triple-A manager Dave Brundage’s office and getting congratulated by teammates, he called his mom, Kimberly. 

“She didn’t believe me,” he said, smiling. “I took a solid five minutes for her to believe me. She kept going, ‘You’re lying.’”

Arroyo’s mother is headed over from Florida, and she’ll be in the stands with other family members for Tuesday night’s game. The plan is for Arroyo to be at third base against Clayton Kershaw. The plan is for him to be at third base for years to come. 

The Giants hoped Arroyo, who doesn’t turn 22 until next month, would spend a whole season in Triple-A, dealing with the occasional failures and conditioning his body for the grind of the Major Leagues. But two things happened when Arroyo reached Triple-A after another solid spring: He hit the cover off the ball, picking up 29 hits in 65 at-bats (including four on Sunday) and the team slumped to a 6-13 record. 

Was this a case of the Giants needing a spark or Arroyo forcing his way into the lineup?

“Both,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Certainly with what he was doing down in Sacramento, he opened up a lot of eyes and we have a need right now. We’re challenged offensively. We need another guy to help out and the way he was swinging the bat made us push him more quickly than we were thinking about.”

Bochy said Arroyo will mostly play third, although he can also handle short and second. Eduardo Nuñez, the incumbent, will play primarily left field and hopefully fill the gaping hole there. Nuñez will also move around, and he is likely to play shortstop this week when Brandon Crawford goes on bereavement leave. 

The Giants are coming off a 1-4 road trip where they scored just 10 runs. There will be pressure on the top prospect to help turn this around, but Bochy doesn’t think he’ll feel it.

“He’s a tough kid,” he said. “I had fun with him today, told him don’t be scared. He said, ‘I’m pumped.’ He’s excited to be here. He just needs to be himself.”

If Arroyo can keep doing that, he’ll be fine. The Giants have always viewed him as a huge cornerstone of their future, and that was again made clear on Monday. Arroyo was given No. 22 and tucked into a locker between Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Joe Panik is two lockers away. The hope is that the four lined up that way for years. 

“It’s surreal at this moment,” Arroyo said. “I’m trying to take it all in.”