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.

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

Not a chicken-and-egg discussion: Three reasons why Giants are so boring

To best understand what has happened to the San Francisco Giants, one must first decide whether or not they have abandoned hope, or just energy.

I mean, that is the new kneejerk position based on losing 18 of 22 games this month by an average margin of more than a run and a half per game, losing to the Phillies, Royals, Braves and Mets, falling five games behind the San Diego Padres and eight games behind the non-noisy neighbors in Oakland, and since the All-Star Break last year, they are 57-93, the equivalent of the third-worst record in franchise history.

Really, to see a happy thing in this team other than Buster Posey is an act of rankest delusion. What hope would you expend on this team?

But there’s a new element involved now, if you take Ken Rosenthal’s report for FoxSports.com on the team’s internal crises at face value.

Apparently the Giants are boring their own management.

According to Rosenthal, the almost stultifying quiet of the clubhouse has become a concern to general manager Bobby Evans and perhaps even to those to whom he reports.

In citing the contributions of such ‘edgy” personalities as Pat Burrell, Cody Ross and Aubrey Huff in 2010, Hunter Pence in ’12 and Pence, Michael Morse and Pablo Sandoval (huh?) in ’14, Rosenthal suggested that the team is too staid – something that winning 38 percent of your games for an entire calendar year will do to you.

“I don’t think I can be definitive in my answers,” Evans was quoted by Rosenthal as saying, “but it’s not lost on us that we’re maybe a little quieter clubhouse than we’ve been in the past. I can’t answer that as being a factor or not.” He then followed up with the always circuitous they’d-be-louder-if-we-weren’t-such-a-tedious-watch argument, which seems self-evident but can’t really be proven one way or another.

But Rosenthal also credited “some with the Giants” as suggesting that the team even misses Angel Pagan, who allegedly help unite the clubhouse because so few of them liked him.

And now we’ve hit the motherlode of bizarre excuses. Angel Pagan is hurting the Giants far more by leaving them than by being with them. And this is, if you’ll pardon the expression, richly stupid.

Not Rosenthal, whom we can presume did his usual diligent work and correctly quoted “some with.” No, our problem is with the thinking that inspired “some with,” because you have to go a long way to make that explanation stick.

The Giants are playing terribly because, well, they are. Their pitching, which has to be in the top sixth of the league for this plan to work, is below average in many of the important metrics. Their offense is horrendous. Their outfield is a disaster. They are 27-51 purely on the merits.

That they are also boring is coincidence rather than causation, because nobody said they were boring after the All-Star Break last year, and nobody accused them of being boring in Game 4 of the National League Division Series with Chicago.

Boring is what you seize on when every other excuse, including the Mark Melancon-doesn’t-stretch-when-he’s-supposed-to straw man Rosenthal also threw up for chewing.

The truth is this, as much as anything. They are bad. They didn’t think they would be bad. They thought the second half of last year was an aberration rather than a harbinger, and they thought they could have gone to the World Series but for one hideous inning. And they are apparently shocked by this for some reason.

So, are they moping, or are they quitting? Do they need a clubhouse visit from Brian Sabean at his most pissed? What’s the thing that makes them fun guys again – other than, say, a five-way trade that gets them Bryce Harper, Mike Trout, Cody Bellinger and Nolan Arenado?

Because there’s your problem. Yes, they certainly are boring – downright stultifying, in fact. But this is not a chicken-and-egg discussion. They’re boring because they’ve been brutal, because they were slow to address their needs after misdiagnosing their problems, and because all their calculations from years gone by have gone badly wrong.

But if you really think boring is the issue, let’s have Bruce Bochy dress in a clown suit and Pence play outfield in just a sliding pants and a derby, and have one inning per game designated as the Wild Dingo Surprise Inning, in which wild dingoes are loosed upon the field to terrorize the players and/or fans.

See how many wins you get then.

What's wrong with Giants? 'There's no trust, there's no belief...'

What's wrong with Giants? 'There's no trust, there's no belief...'

The Giants have dropped 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of the last 26 en route to a NL West-worst 27-51 record.

Their play on the field is making it tough for one of their broadcasters to watch what's going on.

"It is unbelievably bad right now. It was hard to watch this weekend," Mike Krukow said on KNBR 680 on Monday morning. "They got beat every way that was possible. They got out hit, they got out hustled, they got out defended, they got out pitched."

So what is the problem with the team that just got swept by the Mets?

"There's no rhythm, there's no trust, there's no belief that if you don't get a hit, the guy behind you is going to pick you up. They set the table and day after day, they just don't get the hit. It has zapped them of all their strength. You get the sense they're searching, they're looking for an ignitor that just doesn't exist anymore," Krukow said.

The former Giants pitcher compared the feeling around the team to that of the 1985 Giants team that went 62-100.

"It is dismal, as low of a point in a Giants clubhouse and a confidence level that I've seen in a long time," Krukow said.

Krukow pointed out the most concerning part about what he's watching.

"It just doesn't feel like there's a belief that it can get better. And that's what is so concerning. These guys are proud," Krukow said.

Krukow had one lasting message for the Giants.

"They have to fight through this. They have to stay together. That's their only chance," Krukow said.