Giants spring training Day 33: Morse makes spring debut in outfield

Giants spring training Day 33: Morse makes spring debut in outfield

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Michael Morse’s spring training charge continued in the bottom of the seventh inning Friday, with a scorched double to the gap that led to the lone Giants run of the night. The coaches have seen enough of Morse this spring to know the bat speed is still there. This game against the Rockies was significant for other reasons.

Morse played left field for the first time this spring, and while it was a mixed bag, he seemed to get a nice endorsement from his manager after the game. 

“You look at our history and we’ve put some guys in left field who are maybe not the fastest, like (Pat) Burrell and (Travis) Ishikawa,” Bruce Bochy said. “But if the bat plays, you find a place for them.”

Morse’s bat certainly still looks like it can get the job done. During his first night in the outfield, he made one play that impressed the bench and another that served as a reminder that he has work to do. When Gorkys Hernandez slipped on a fly ball to left-center, Morse made enough ground to pick up his center fielder. But in the seventh, Morse came up short on a Charlie Blackmon flare to left after getting a poor jump.

Morse has played just 35 innings in the outfield since leaving the Giants at the end of the 2014 season. His previous 28 defensive innings this spring came at first base. Asked how the return to the outfield felt, Morse smiled. 

“Scary!” he said. “It was fun, though. It was like riding a bike … with two flat tires.”

Bochy said Morse and others may play in minor league games over the next week to get additional fly balls. Earlier Friday, Chris Marrero, Gordon Beckham, Jae-gyun Hwang and Aaron Hill did outfield work with guest instructor Cody Ross. Morse said he would be fine with a trip to the minor league facility. 

“I wouldn’t mind doing that,” he said. “As long as it’s during spring training.”

GAME RECAP: Matt Cain gave up three runs in 4 2/3 as the Giants fell 5-1 to the Rockies. Here’s what Cain had to say about his outing and his updated spring numbers

“It was better today,” Bochy said. “His numbers showed it. He made a couple mistakes there when he was in a positive count, but overall it was a better day. He needs to sharpen things up when he’s ahead in the count.”

BACK IN ACTION: Will Smith (elbow) made his spring debut, allowing two hits in one inning of work. One of the hits was the flare to left that dropped in front of Morse. Smith got a double play to end the inning. He’s a couple of days ahead of the original rehab schedule, and it looks like the Giants will have time to get him up to speed before opening day. 

“I thought he threw well,” Bochy said. “He looked fine for the first time out.”

UPSET ALERT: The Giants announced a crowd of 12,184 for a night game in downtown Scottsdale on St. Patrick’s Day, which is the perfect concoction for trouble. The gates opened at 4 p.m. and by 4:02 p.m. authorities had been called to deal with an unruly fan, but ultimately there were only two more incidents the rest of the night. Shocker. An usher noted that spring training has become so expensive that the revelers have been priced out of games like this one. 

FAMILIAR FACES: Randy Winn (scouting), Will Clark (coaching), Rich Aurilia (coaching) and Jeremy Affeldt (coaching and pretending he’s not a member of the media) were among the former Giants in camp on Friday afternoon.

ICYMI: It’s all about Matt Cain on this website today. He was the latest guest on my Giants Insider podcast. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here.

Regulars in lineup continue to scuffle, Giants end up with series split

Regulars in lineup continue to scuffle, Giants end up with series split

SAN FRANCISCO — The momentum generated by Christian Arroyo and Michael Morse late Wednesday night lasted just a few hours. By the end of this four-game series, the Giants were left with a harsh reality: Even with two injections of new blood, they are not hitting. 

Arroyo drove in another run Thursday, but that was it for a lineup that couldn’t support Matt Moore’s effort. The bullpen, which had kept Bruce Bochy’s guys in close games all series, finally broke in the 10th. The Dodgers walked away with a 5-1 win and a split of a series that was rather uninspiring for both sides. 

After scoring 10 runs on the last road trip, the Giants scored just eight during the four games against the Dodgers. Three of those RBI came from Arroyo, called up Monday. A fourth came from Morse, called up Wednesday.

“We’ve got to get this offense going,” Bochy said. “It’s a better offense than what we’re doing right now. You need to find a way to put a few runs on the board. We had our chances, we just couldn’t find ways to get the big hit.”

With Denard Span out for at least another week, Bochy moved Hunter Pence to the top of the lineup. His temporary No. 3 hitter against lefties, Eduardo Nuñez, has one hit in his last 20 at-bats. Buster Posey, the cleanup hitter, is batting .357, but he has driven in just three runs this month. With two on and one out in the eighth, he bounced into a double play. The production closer to the bottom of the order has been nonexistent, leading to constant shuffling that has moved Nuñez and Belt to left at times. Bochy said the staff will continue to search of a lineup that works. 

“You talk about it and do thing to adjust, and it will get better, but right now we’ve got some guys who aren’t swinging the bat well, to be honest,” he said. “You look at the order and we don’t have a lot of guys swinging well.”

The list does not include Arroyo, the rookie who will eventually have to deal with adjustments from pitchers. It doesn’t appear that’ll be a problem. Arroyo has been making adjustments from at-bat to at-bat. He did so against Sergio Romo for his first career homer and said he learned about the depth of Julio Urias’ curveball during their first two battles Thursday. In the sixth, the 21-year-old Arroyo drove in the game-tying run against the 20-year-old Urias. The lefty had walked Posey to face Arroyo, who singled up the middle. 

“He handles himself so well,” Bochy said. “They walked Buster and he smokes the ball. This kid has shown he’s not in awe. The upper deck, the bright lights, he comes to play.”

Arroyo’s effort briefly backed Moore, who was sharp in seven innings. Moore struck out eight, six of them looking, but he didn’t get much help and the bullpen fell apart in the 10th with a series of walks.

Bochy challenged his starters on Saturday at Coors Field and they responded with a strong series back home. The bullpen was tested during the first week but — Thursday’s result aside — it has settled down. The Giants are not as worried about their pitching as they were as they flew back from Denver. They know, however, that this team is going nowhere if two runs per game continues to be the nightly output. 

“We’ll tweak it again,” Bochy said of his lineup. “We'll see if we can get this thing right.”

Instant Replay: Moore tosses gem, but Giants lose to Dodgers in extras

Instant Replay: Moore tosses gem, but Giants lose to Dodgers in extras

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Quietly over the past couple of weeks, Bruce Bochy’s bullpen had started to settle. Bochy praised the group before Thursday’s game, noting that roles were being defined by pitchers who entered the series finale with the Dodgers with a 0.94 collective ERA this season. That changed in the 10th inning Thursday.

Three relievers combined to give up four runs on four walks and three singles. The implosion ended with a 5-1 loss to the Dodgers and a split of this four-game series. 

For most of the game, this was a day when youth shined. Corey Seager celebrated his 23rd birthday with a solo homer in the first on a two-strike pitch from Matt Moore that caught the heart of the plate. The Giants will be dealing with Seager for years, and if all goes according to plan, there will be years of Julio Urias vs. Christian Arroyo battles, too. 

The 21-year-old third baseman won the first matchup, lining a single to center. Arroyo flew out in his second at-bat against the 20-year-old Urias, but they faced off a third time in a big spot. Brandon Belt drew a one-out walk in the sixth and went to third when a pickoff throw skipped down the line. After an intentional walk of Buster Posey, Arroyo lined another one back up the middle. Urias stuck his glove up but it ticked off and into center for a game-tying single. 

Arroyo ended the young lefty’s day. Moore was done after seven sparkling innings. He struck out eight, six of them looking. 

The game went to extras, and Cory Gearrin walked pinch-hitter Adrian Gonzalez to lead off the 10th. Chase Utley was called up to bunt but he couldn’t get it down. Instead, he hit an infield single off Steven Okert that stayed true to the third-base line. After a walk of Yasmani Grandal, the third straight pinch-hitter, Andrew Toles lined a single to center to give the Dodgers a lead and the wheels soon came off. 

Utley alertly tagged up and scored on a pop-up to foul territory. Justin Turner’s single extended the lead to three and Hunter Strickland’s four-pitch walk of Chris Taylor pushed another across. 

Starting pitching report: Moore gave up 19 hits and 11 earned runs in his two previous starts, but the Dodgers had just two hits, the Seager homer and a Chris Taylor single. Taylor reached third with one out, but Moore got Scott Van Slyke and Cody Bellinger to go down looking. 

Bullpen report: Mark Melancon came on in a non-save situation for a second straight day and pitched a scoreless ninth. 

At the plate: Buster Posey’s hitting streak ended at 12 games. He twice bounced into double plays.

In the field: Posey chased a high pop-up down the right field line in the fourth, but he was going to come up short. Kelby Tomlinson came out of nowhere with the helping hand, making a running catch near the visiting bullpen. Posey smiled and shook his head as Tomlinson whipped the ball back to the infield. 

Attendance: The Giants said they sold out a 500th consecutive game.

Up next: The Giants have a three-city road trip coming up, so it’s time to take advantage of a weekend at home against the Padres. Jeff Samardzija and Luis Perdomo get the opener.