Giants grooming Sandoval at third, not first

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Giants grooming Sandoval at third, not first

DENVER Pablo Sandoval continued to make progress in hisbid to return from a strained hamstring when eligible on Thursday. He ransprints, took batting practice and fielded ground balls.

Notably, those grounders came at third base, not first base.

Mindful of the fact that Sandoval injured himself while stretchingfor a throw at first base, the Giants are prepping their All-Star switch-hitterwith a conservative mindset.

Im not going to rule out first base, Giants manager BruceBochy said. But obviously with what happened, well be a little more hesitantto put him back there.

The Giants also have abandoned the idea of putting HectorSanchez at first base. All of that bodes well for Brandon Belt and Brett Pill,although Buster Posey will continue to get starts at the position on selecteddays when Sanchez is behind the plate. In fact, full days off for Posey willbecome rarer as the Giants head down the stretch and the games become all themore significant.

As it is, its not easy to take Poseys bat out of thelineup. Hes hitting .463 with five home runs and 22 RBIs since the All-Starbreak.

Returning to Sandoval: Hes going to graduate to runningcurves on Sunday and then run bases after that. The Giants remain optimistic hecan return for Thursdays road-trip finale in St. Louis or when they begintheir next homestand on Friday. But they acknowledge they wont have a trueread on his hamstring until Sandoval really begins to push it on the bases.

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With Sandoval on the DL and Emmanuel Burriss off the roster,who, pray tell, is the Giants emergency catcher?

He probably doesnt know it yet, but Arias, Bochy said.

That would be backup infielder Joaquin Arias. Has he evercaught before?

I dont think so, Bochy said.

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It remains to be seen if Bochy will leave Angel Pagan in theleadoff spot against right-handed pitchers. But Bochy agreed that when a switch-hitterbegins to have success from one side, it can carry over to the other.

Bochy mentioned his experience managing Ken Caminiti with thePadres.

He said when the right side would come along first, it wasunbelievable how the left side would get better, too, Bochy said.

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The Rockies havent named a starter for Sunday but theyactivated right-hander Edgmer Escalona today. The talk is that itll beEscalona if he isnt used in relief on Saturday.

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.