Giants not necessarily 'showcasing' Schierholtz


Giants not necessarily 'showcasing' Schierholtz

PHILADELPHIA -- The Giants aren't necessarily looking to trade Nate Schierholtz, even though he's made it clear he would welcome a fresh opportunity elsewhere.

That's not to state Schierholtz won't be dealt before the July 31 trade deadline. He's a useful player and other clubs will be sure to inquire about his availability. Maybe it'll take parting with Schierholtz, by himself or as part of a package, to bring in someone who could impact the team in another way.

But I can tell you this much, as the Giants take the field on a pleasant Saturday afternoon in Philly: Schierholtz isn't in the lineup because GM Brian Sabean wants to showcase him.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy is sitting Gregor Blanco against a left-hander, as has become the fashion. Instead of Justin Christian, Bochy is going with Schierholtz because he's 4-for-6 against Phillies starter Cole Hamels. And as Bochy pointed out, Hamels is tough on lefties and righties alike. It's a decision that makes pretty good baseball sense.

Plus Bochy liked Schierholtz's at-bats the previous night, when he started in place of struggling outfielder Angel Pagan.

Sure, Schierholtz hasn't played nearly as much as he hoped. He's on pace for just 248 at-bats this season, which is almost 100 fewer than last year. It's understandable that a 28-year-old outfielder would feel a sense of urgency to get an everyday opportunity, through hot streaks and cold streaks, to get his career going while his window is still open.

For now, though, he is not just hanging onto a roster spot. If Pagan continues to struggle against right-handers, Schierholtz's time could pick up. And there's always the chance someone could get hurt. Depth is a good thing to have.

So don't assume that Schierholtz is playing his last two weeks as a Giant.

Aubrey Huff's MRI exam showed patellar tendinitis in his left knee. He'll rest over the weekend and be reevaluated.

Brandon Crawford, who hit a grand slam as part of a five-RBI night, is out of the lineup against Hamels. Joaquin Arias is at shortstop instead, and Brandon Belt is starting in the No. 8 spot for the first time all season (second time in his career).

NEWS: Giants lineup -- Arias, Belt in

Feel free to argue the baseball sense of those decisions to your heart's content.

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner aims to get all 27 outs every time he takes the mound, but on Tuesday the coaching staff gave the ace a nice view of the man who will help out if his nights are cut short. 

Bumgarner threw his first live batting practice session of the spring on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. Mark Melancon, the new closer, followed him. Both players said they felt good. Both also found things to work on in advance of opening day. 

“Strength-wise I felt pretty good, really good, actually,” Bumgarner said. “My command up in the zone was right where I want it. I’m pretty happy with that. My cutter was pretty straight, but that usually comes around pretty quick.”

Melancon didn’t even throw his go-to cutter, saying he usually pockets it until later in camp. He’s getting the feel for his curveball back because he doesn’t throw it until he reports. Like Bumgarner, Melancon said he’s where he needs to be physically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In years past there has been some slowness but I don’t feel that this year. I’m right where I want to be.”

The Giants have not finalized a Cactus League rotation, but Bumgarner will likely throw an inning in Friday’s opener. Melancon could follow him, as he’ll throw in the early innings until late March. He said he’ll talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about closing a game or two over the final days of camp so he can start locking his routine down. It’s probably a lock that he’ll close out that first Bay Bridge Series game back at AT&T Park. 

ICYMI: Here’s actual (shaky) footage of Bumgarner throwing today. At one point, he gave Denard Span a hard time for missing a slider that he was told was coming. Span had a good reason. “I didn't understand him when he said it because of his accent,” he said. 

ICYMI, PART II: The latest podcast is a couple of interviews with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Law explained how he ordered 800 chicken nuggets for his wedding. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants now expect Johnny Cueto to join camp this weekend. His status for the WBC is up in the air. Speaking of the WBC, trainer Dave Groeschner will be leaving camp on Feb. 27 to work with manager Hensley Meulens and the Netherlands. Bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu is also working with the team, which opens play in Seoul. Anthony Reyes will be head trainer while Groeschner is gone.

PROSPECT WATCH: Bruce Bochy said right-hander Ray Black was a standout during early live BP sessions. “He had a hell of an outing yesterday,” Bochy said. “They said he was really good.”   Black, 26, still throws 100-plus. He still has command issues, though, with 32 walks in 31 1/3 innings last year. If he can get over that hump and stay healthy, he might rocket to the big leagues.

QUOTABLE: After just about every start last season — most of which were dominant — Bumgarner said he wasn’t happy with his mechanics. He said Tuesday that he’s still searching for the perfect feeling. “I was being a perfectionist,” he said. “If you’re being a perfectionist, I really haven’t had (my mechanics) where I wanted the last couple of years. It’s not like it’s too far off, obviously.”

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants have been watching high-quality clips of Johnny Cueto all spring, even though the co-ace has remained in the Dominican Republic. On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy finally managed to get face-to-face with Cueto. Kind of. 

Cueto spoke to Bochy, trainer Dave Groeschner and others via FaceTime, and all involved finally managed to hammer out a schedule for Cueto’s arrival. Cueto has been in the Dominican Republic tending to his ill father, Domingo, but he is expected to arrive in Scottsdale this weekend. Cueto is working to secure a visa for his father, who will travel with him.

Bochy wanted to have a long discussion with Cueto to get a sense of how ready he’ll be for the World Baseball Classic. Cueto’s participation is still up in the air, and not just because he has missed the first week of camp. There is a chance, Bochy said, that Cueto will choose to stay in Scottsdale to continue taking care of his father. The Dominican Republic opens play in Miami on March 9.

“He said he knows he’s got to make a decision real soon regarding what he does,” Bochy said. “Pitching or not pitching, he’s got to let them know as soon as possible.”

Cueto has been throwing to hitters at a facility in Boca Chica. He threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.