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." 

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.