Giants lineups: Belt back in RF, Sanchez hits the road to DH

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Giants lineups: Belt back in RF, Sanchez hits the road to DH

Bruce Bochy has announced both lineups for Saturday's split squad matchups against the Brewers and Angels.

Home split squad lineup vs. Brewers:

Angel Pagan CF
Melky Cabrera LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Brett Pill 1B
Brandon Belt RF
Hector Sanchez C
Ryan Theriot 2B
Brandon Crawford SS
Tommy Joseph DH
(Barry Zito SP)

Bochy is clearly keeping his A-squad at home as the 1-2-3 could be what the Giants trot out on Opening Day against the Diamondbacks.

The most interesting aspect of this lineup is Brandon Belt in right field. Belt came into the Giants win over the Reds on Friday as a defensive replacement for Nate Schierholtz in right field and robbed Miguel Rojas of a hit in the 8th inning with a nice catch off his shoetops on a sinking line drive.

Belt has played four innings in right this spring, along with six in left field and 21 at first base.

If Belt is forced to the outfield by either Aubrey Huff, Brett Pill, or even a catching weary Buster Posey, left field would seem to be the easier transition for the slick-fielding first baseman. A right fielder should have the strongest arm on the team, an honor which belongs to Nate Schierholtz. And while it may not be a factor at Scottsdale Stadium, the brick wall at AT&T Park makes it one of the hardest right fields to defend in the big leagues.

Hector Sanchez is back in the lineup to catch Barry Zito after tweaking his hamstring and taking a few days off. Sanchez was batting .444 with a home run and four RBIs before the injury. In his absence, and before Buster Posey was ready to return, top prospect Tommy Joseph saw a little more playing time and took advantage of it, as he is 2-for-6 with two RBIs in limited action heading into Saturday's game as the designated hitter.

Barry Zito takes the mound for his second start of the spring. He debuted on March 6 against the Dodgers and allowed two runs on four hits and a walk in two innings pitched. Despite living in the 81-83 MPH range, Zito threw 28 of 35 pitches for strikes against the Giants' N.L. West rivals.
Road split squad lineup vs. Angels:

Gregor Blanco CF
Emmanuel Burriss 2B
Freddy Sanchez DH
Aubrey Huff 1B
Conor Gillaspie 3B
Eli Whiteside C
Joaquin Arias SS
Tyler Graham RF
Justin Christian LF
(Shane Loux SP)

Bochy put together a less recognizable lineup for the Giants' road game against the Angels.

Gregor Blanco, hitting .429 with four steals this spring, gets an opportunity to state his case for a roster spot as the Giants' fourth outfielder.

Freddy Sanchez will get a second straight game as a designated hitter, with Bochy saying Friday that he may put him at second base for the first time this spring on Monday.

When the Giants' lineup was posted Friday with Aubrey Huff starting in left field, he looked at the print out and said "Am I really in left field? OK." Looks like the veteran will get a break Saturday as he returns to his natural position at first.

Conor Gillaspie, who the Giants drafted with the 37th overall pick in 2008, is only hitting .231 but has made some solid contact in his 13 at-bats. In 19 at-bats with the big-league club last season, Gillaspie hit .250 with a home run.

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

After Giants' first Coors Field sweep in 15 years, Bochy preaches urgency

DENVER — Bruce Bochy watched the first two games of this road trip from his home in San Diego and the final three from the top step of the dugout at Coors Field. He did not like what he saw, but at the moment he’s more concerned with what he might hear. 

“What you have to careful of — you can’t let any kind of complacency set in and say, ‘It’s early, we’ll be ok.’ I don’t want to hear that either,” Bochy said. “It’s the old adage that you come out with some sense of urgency. All these games are important. You’ve got to stay away from that attitude, too: ‘We’re not through April yet and have 140-something games left.’ That doesn’t work out.”

Three weeks into the season, nothing is working. The rotation has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the Majors. The lineup scored 10 runs over a five-game road trip and got shut out twice. The bullpen hasn’t been given many leads with which to make up for the first-week trouble. The defense has been uncharacteristically sloppy. 

It has added up to a 6-13 start, tied for the worst in club history. The Giants have lost six of seven and they’ll head home seven games out of first place. 

“Right now there’s nothing clicking,” Bochy said. “Let’s be honest, this has been a rough start and we’re not very good right now. I’m not saying we’re not very good. We are good, but we’ve got to find a way to come out of this. This was a tough way to end this series. We’ve been through it. I’ve got men out there and that’s when you find a way to get through this. They will.”

Perhaps Monday will bring some fresh blood for the roster. Drew Stubbs appears poised to give the Giants another veteran option should they cut bait with a struggling outfielder. Michael Morse could be an option in left field soon, and if he’s mostly relegated to first, the Giants can put Brandon Belt in the outfield. He looked fine there Sunday while playing both corner spots. 

Those are moves made around the edges of the roster, though. There is no magic bullet coming from the outside, not even Christian Arroyo, who continues to mash at Triple-A. This is a $200 million roster and much of that has been spent on the rotation. Through 13 games, it is the worst in the National League, and the ace was lost to an off-field accident. Sure, the starters have pitched at Chase Field and Coors Field, but on back-to-back days they were dominated by Rockies rookies who make a living here. 

Samardzija could not keep pace with left-hander Kyle Freeland, who sawed off a handful of bats while cruising through seven. Samardzjiza gave up a run early, two more in the fourth on a hanging splitter that was blasted to right, and five in the sixth.

Bochy challenged his starting staff to improve after Saturday’s game. He has not publicly done the same with the lineup, but subtle changes have been made here and there. It is a group that, outside of a couple of players, has lacked energy. Because they don’t hit for power, the Giants are reliant on stringing together rallies. For the fourth time in seven games, the lineup failed to put a runner on base the first time through the order. 

“Even in spring training we had our games where we had trouble getting something going early,” Bochy said. “It’s the fourth or fifth before a hit. Somehow, we’ve got to change that.”

The Giants played Sunday without Jarrett Parker (clavicle) and Denard Span (right shoulder sprain), but for the most part the lineup is healthy. Bochy said he has talked to hitting coach Hensley Meulens about possibly altering pre-game routines, but that seems a cosmetic fix. 

“We’ve talked and we’ve shaken up the lineup, but as you saw today, there’s only so much you can do,” he said. 

Bochy knows there is outside noise regarding the roster. His eyes bulged the other day when asked if Arroyo would get a call-up next week. The Giants do not feel he is quite ready, or that there is a spot for him on the infield. For all the potential bench options waiting at Triple-A, this team's core is set, and it’s not outrageously banged-up compared to the rest of the division. 

The Dodgers, who come into town Monday, have 10 players on the disabled list, including No. 2 starter Rich Hill, second baseman Logan Forsythe, and left fielder Andre Ethier. The Rockies, the best team in the NL West thus far, are off to this start without big offseason acquisition Ian Desmond and young slugger David Dahl. Jon Gray, their opening day starter, went on the DL after facing the Giants in San Francisco. Chad Bettis, a rotation member, is getting treatment for testicular cancer. 

This division is better than expected, and as the end of April approaches, the Giants are bringing up the rear. Bochy’s plea for urgency was one that would have fit right in with last season’s second half. Back then, the Giants could at least lean on a huge start that got them into the postseason. As they flew home Sunday, there was nothing to fall back on but a simple truth.

This is the team. It must play better.

“We have everything we need in this room,” Samardzija said. “Sometimes you need to go out on the field and prove it.”

 

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

Instant Replay: Giants' struggles continue in sweep from Rockies

BOX SCORE

DENVER — Bruce Bochy spent about 10 minutes before Sunday’s game talking about potential options in left field and center. The problems for this lineup, however, currently go much deeper than the outfield. 

A day after the Giants managed just four hits off Antonio Senzatela, the bats went completely limp against fellow Rockies rookie Kyle Freeland. The Giants were shut out 8-0, a rarity at Coors Field. They were blanked twice on the road trip and scored just 10 runs during a five-game swing through Kansas City and Denver. 

The sweep at Coors Field was the Giants' first since 2002. At 6-13, they have the worst record in the National League.

For the fourth time in seven games, and third time on this five-game road trip, the Giants went one time through the order without a baserunner. That puts added pressure on your starter, and Jeff Samardzija couldn’t keep it close. Charlie Blackmon hit a leadoff liner to right that was misplayed into a triple and he scored on a sacrifice fly. Gerardo Parra got a spinner down in the zone in the fourth and blasted a two-run shot to right. 

As they did Saturday night, the Rockies pulled away with a huge rally. Nolan Arenado’s infield single and a walk of Carlos Gonzalez set the table in the sixth. Gerardo Parra lined a single to center and all runners advanced when Gorkys Hernandez kicked it. Trevor Story’s single to right was bobbled by Hunter Pence and two more scored. Blackmon’s double made it 8-0.

Starting pitching report: Samardzija was charged with seven earned in 5 1/3 innings. He has a 7.40 ERA through four starts. The starting staff has a 5.02 ERA, the worst in the majors. That won’t play, not when you’ve spent most of your resources the last two years on starters. 

Bullpen report: Hunter Strickland's Mullet had a scoreless debut. 

At the plate: Nope. 

In the field: Brandon Belt’s first start in left this season was rather uneventful. He caught a liner right at him in the first and came up inches short on a diving attempt in foul territory. Belt moved to right in the seventh inning. He had one previous inning there in the big leagues but he actually prefers right because it’s the same angle as his normal position. Belt gloved a liner right at him in the eighth. 

Attendance: The Rockies announced a crowd of 42,011 human beings and one donkey, who was a menace. 

Up next: The first look at the Dodgers. The Giants will see Hyun-Jin Ryu, Clayton Kershaw, Alex Wood and likely Julio Urias in the four-game series.