Giants spring training Day 2: Posey makes sure he catches Melancon

Giants spring training Day 2: Posey makes sure he catches Melancon

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey has always made a point of catching up-and-coming prospects during spring bullpen sessions. When the pitchers lined up Tuesday morning at Scottsdale Stadium, Posey made sure he was standing in front of a 31-year-old right-hander. 

With his spring limited by the World Baseball Classic, Posey wants to spend as much time as possible with new closer Mark Melancon. That process started during the first round of bullpen sessions, and Posey said he’ll also schedule a few Cactus League appearances with Melancon so they can discuss and tweak a specific plan on the mound. 

“I’ve faced him and watched him a lot,” Posey said. “I feel like I have a pretty good idea of what he wants to do, but we’ll obviously sit down (this spring) and talk.”

Posey said the two will schedule around the WBC, and even if Team USA goes all the way to the championship, he’ll still find a way to work specifically with Melancon in the days leading up to the opener. As for the second day at Scottsdale Stadium, here are some other highlights … 

FAMILIAR FACES: Ellis Burks and Cody Ross are in camp as guest instructors, and Ross — who lives in the area — said he’ll be around the whole time. Robb Nen, Jeff Kent, Rich Aurilia and others will be in camp later, and Barry Bonds is expected at some point. 

Ross had that familiar smile going as he hit grounders. He’s only two years removed from his playing days, and you can bet he’ll get the itch once the position players all arrive later in the week. 

“He told me he’d like to enter (the left field competition),” Bochy joked. “He’s changed his mind about coaching.”

LIGHTER SIDE: One of the many tedious drills involves pitchers standing up against an outfield wall and fielding three grounders from a coach. When Madison Bumgarner stepped in the first grounder came in too soft, so Bumgarner dropped his glove to his side and bounced it off his chest. 

As for his main job, here's an Oscars-quality video of Bumgarner, Melancon and George Kontos doing baseball things. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants still don’t have an exact arrival date for Johnny Cueto, who is tending to his father in the Dominican Republic, but Bochy said Cueto planned to visit the club’s facility there on Tuesday to throw a bullpen session. He has already done so several times to prepare for the WBC and coaches have watched video of the sessions. Still, Bochy and pitching coach Dave Righetti will meet with Cueto when he arrives to make sure he’s ready for a ramped-up spring. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy's State of the Union was mostly a State of the Bullpen. Here's what he had to say. Speaking of the bullpen, the Giants added David Hernandez to the mix.

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.