Giants spring training Day 1: Cueto's arrival delayed, Bumgarner's contract

Giants spring training Day 1: Cueto's arrival delayed, Bumgarner's contract

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Johnny Cueto eased his way into big league camp last spring as he tried to recover from a long 2015 postseason with the Kansas City Royals. In Year 2 with the Giants, Cueto will again be delayed in letting loose on the mound. 

Cueto won't report until later in the week, the Giants said, as he stayed back in the Dominican Republic to tend to his ailing father. The Giants expect Cueto to miss the first two or three days of workouts. 

The rest of what should be a very strong rotation arrived in the clubhouse Monday, the day pitchers and catchers reported. Matt Cain and Jeff Samardzija live in the area and Matt Moore had a short trip after his first FanFest. But Madison Bumgarner was seen for the first time since Game 4 of the NLDS, and he made his rounds, offering bear hugs to longtime teammates. Bumgarner, who is back to the huge-beard look, said he had a "quiet offseason." 

He watched most of the postseason on TV, noting with a smile that, "I sure would have liked to have been there." He liked what he saw in December, when the Giants signed Mark Melancon. "He's the complete package when it comes to a closer," Bumgarner said. There was a rumor that Bumgarner would participate in the World Baseball Classic, but Bumgarner said the timing wasn't right. It is something he would like to do, however. 

As for the big Bumgarner story, he said there have been no recent contract discussions. The Giants have Bumgarner under team control through 2019, and while both sides would like to hammer out a big extension at some point, it's unlikely it happens this spring. 

STOCK RISING: Today is like the first day of school, as players, team employees and beat writers do a whole lot of hand-shaking and ask over and over again, "How was the offseason?" One thing that did stand out in my informal discussions with guys was how many mentioned how much they like Nick Hundley, the new backup catcher. He apparently made quite the impression on teammates and team employees at FanFest.

STOCK FALLING: The idea to expand the footprint of Scottsdale Stadium. The Giants had briefly considered purchasing an open lot behind the bullpens and building some sort of addition to the facility, but it ultimately didn't make sense. The lot is now being turned into condos. 

ICYMI: The main story on Day 1: Cain is ready to fight for his rotation spot.

FAMILIAR FACE: The Giants will see plenty of Gregor Blanco this season, starting in the spring. The Diamondbacks work out about 10 minutes away in North Scottsdale. Cain said it'll be weird facing the guy who saved his perfect game. 

"I might have to hit him a few times," he cracked. "He was fun to have around. He was such a bridge from the American guys to the Latin guys."

It'll be interesting to see who takes that role. Blanco was fluent in English and made himself a big part of things like the clubhouse's fantasy football league, but he also was a mentor for the younger players who were still learning the language. Santiago Casilla was, too. 

QUOTABLE: "Which way is the field?" -- One of the many veterans in Giants camp for the first time. Melancon and Hundley were the only free agent additions to the 40-man roster, but there are still a ton of new faces around when you add up the veteran non-roster invitees, prospects, and players who were acquired in the middle of last season. 

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.