Giants spring training Day 3: Trevor Brown will get infield time

Giants spring training Day 3: Trevor Brown will get infield time

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The remaining position players started to roll into Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday. Kelby Tomlinson arrived in the morning, Conor Gillaspie walked through a few minutes later, and Denard Span showed up as well. It won't be long before there's a full workout at the facility, and when infielders officially hit the dirt, a young catcher will join them. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said Trevor Brown will get some meaningful time at second base this spring, and he also will take grounders at first base and third. Brown made 96 starts at second base in the minors and a dozen at first, but his big league exposure has been limited. He occasionally takes pre-game grounders if an infielder is dealing with a minor injury, and that led to him getting an inning at third base last June. The Giants were shorthanded at the time because Joe Panik was about to be put on the concussion disabled list. 

Bochy said the Giants haven't ruled out opening the season with three catchers, but added that the odds of that configuration "are less than 50 percent." Brown is most likely ticketed for the starting role in Triple-A, as the Nick Hundley addition was originally supposed to allow Brown -- a converted infielder -- to continue his development behind the plate. Still, this role has always been something that intrigues the Giants. Brown is athletic and experienced enough to add the infield to his big league playbook, and even if it doesn't lead to an opening day job, it'll help him going forward. 

So, be ready for the "Trevor Brown is playing second base!" tweets during a random game this spring. You can always use that kind of intrigue during a long exhibition season. For now, here are the highlights from Day 3 ... 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain is the clear frontrunner for the fifth starter spot, but Ty Blach intends on making it a hard decision. "That's what you live for," Blach said. "The competition."

Blach had a quiet offseason back home in Denver, but he certainly made a ton of noise before packing up last October. He had a 1.06 ERA in four regular season outings and didn't allow a run in two relief appearances in the NLDS. The highlight of Blach's season was a huge win over the Dodgers on Oct. 1, when he threw eight scoreless innings and struck out six.

"That was big for my confidence," he said. "It lets you know you can compete at the highest level. It's something to build off for sure."

PROSPECT WATCH: Chase Johnson was moved to the bullpen last season at Double-A and his numbers immediately improved. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out about a batter per inning as a reliever and dropped his ERA to 2.30 and WHIP to 1.09. Johnson was shut down late in the season after feeling the dreaded forearm tightness, but he said it was believed to be a reaction to his new pitching schedule and he's back to 100 percent as camp starts. It sounds like Johnson will continue to work out of the bullpen going forward. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Word out of Dodgers camp is that the Sergio Romo deal will be announced soon, and Romo will continue to wear No. 54. 

ICYMI: The podcast is back! The first guest of 2017 was top pitching prospect Tyler Beede, who talked about his development, the importance of this spring, his offseason workouts with Mark Melancon, attending the Super Bowl, his music career, and much more. You can stream it online here or download it on iTunes here. 

QUOTABLE: The main feature today was on Jimmy Rollins, who is trying to win a job as a non-roster invitee. Rollins lives in the Tampa area and he recently ran into Tampa resident Derek Jeter at the gym. "He called me an old man, and I was like, 'That's interesting,'" Rollins said of the retired Jeter. "I was like, 'Why are you even at the gym?' He said he's been breathing heavy when he walks up and down the golf course." 

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.