Highlights of 2017 Giants FanFest: Melancon wins over the crowd

Highlights of 2017 Giants FanFest: Melancon wins over the crowd

SAN FRANCISCO -- The highlights of FanFest always come at the question and answer stage, but the quotes usually don't escape the room. Brandon Belt was an exception a couple years ago when he said the Dodgers can't buy chemistry, so he was quick to the microphone on Saturday when a fan asked him about Sergio Romo's new team.

"I don't know if you know my history with saying something about the Dodgers," he said, smiling. "I'm going to stay out of this one."

The Dodgers came up often during four Q&A sessions with players and management. Mark Melancon showed he knows how to win over a crowd when he talked about getting drafted by Los Angeles out of high school and choosing not to sign. 

As always, it was a light scene at AT&T Park. Here are some highlights from the Q&A sessions ... 

--- Belt on the teammate he would want to be stuck on an island with: "I would say Bumgarner but he's probably going to try to fight me at some point."

--- The second question of the day was "Do you think you're going to make the playoffs this year?" Luckily a young man (and future Giants Insider) got it back on course by asking Brandon Crawford, "How long does it take to do your hair in the morning?"

--- Belt, Crawford and Joe Panik were asked about their favorite non-World Series games. Crawford picked the 2014 Wild Card Game, of course, and Panik chose the Ishikawa game. Belt picked Game 2 of the 2014 NLDS. "I like to go as long as you can, maybe 18 innings," he said. 

--- Welcome to life as one of the youngest Giants, Derek Law. Hunter Pence made him show off some dance moves in front of a big crowd. (Law will rule FanFest for years to come by the way, nobody had more fun than he did). 

--- Belt on his offseason: "I just try to get swole. That's it." 

--- Nick Hundley is wearing No. 5, Jose Alguacil has No. 17 and Phil Nevin has No. 16.

--- Bobby Evans said one of his best baseball moments came at the end of his internship with the Red Sox when he was 20 years old. He took an aluminum bat and some balls to Fenway, stood in the third-base box, and tried to hit a homer over the Green Monster. The fourth swing went out and he said he still has the ball as a souvenir. 

--- Asked about players who would be good managers, Bruce Bochy said Marco Scutaro could do it. Shoutout #MarcoMonday! 

--- Josh Osich came up a lot when coaches were asked about the bullpen in various sessions. He had a rough 2016 but the Giants certainly have not forgotten what he showed as a rookie. 

--- Jeff Samardzija said he has long hair as a response to his dad making him rock a flat top until he was in sixth grade. 

--- Buster Posey said the pitcher he most hates facing is former Dodger Ronald Belisario. "I would look up and he would have like a five-something ERA but I (had trouble)," he said. He was 2-for-13 against Belisario with eight strikeouts. 

--- Cory Gearrin said he thought a lot about if he would have to dive during his one-batter stint in left field last season, but said he realized "If I lay out and it goes poorly, I'm going to have to come in (as a pitcher) and get out of a jam."

--- Evans was asked if he'll check in on Brian Wilson's comeback and he dropped the sly line of the day: "I just want to make sure he gets his ring."

Giants lineup: Ruggiano moves up against lefty Lester

Giants lineup: Ruggiano moves up against lefty Lester

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for Game 2 of the four-game series in Chicago:

Giants (20-26)
1. Joe Panik (L) 2B
2. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P (4-3, 4.50 ERA)

Cubs (22-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Willson Contreras (R) C
8. Addison Russell (R) SS
9. Jon Lester (L) P (2-2, 3.57 ERA)

Giants notes: Blach shows resiliency; another option in center?

Giants notes: Blach shows resiliency; another option in center?

CHICAGO — John Lackey's night started with a leadoff homer. Ty Blach's night started with a 13-pitch battle. Neither one is a positive for a pitcher, but Blach didn't view it that way. He actually appreciated Ben Zobrist stretching him out.

"It's good to have a battle like that and get you locked in," Blach said. "It gets you focused and you'll be like, I can execute and get guys out. It's good. It's a good battle."

There, in a nutshell, is so much of what Bruce Bochy loves about his young left-hander. The Giants have found Blach's arm and resolve to be remarkably resilient. He wasn't bothered when they moved him to the bullpen and he didn't get too high when they moved him back to the rotation. He is the same after seven shutout innings or three poor ones. Bochy smiled when asked about the Zobrist at-bat, which ended in a strikeout looking. 

"How 'bout that?" the manager said. "He won that at-bat. It seems like the advantage goes to the hitter, seeing all those pitches. He kept his focus and got a called strikeout and here he is pitching in the eighth inning."

After needing 13 pitches for one out, Blach got the next 23 on 81 pitches. Bochy thought Blach tired a bit in the eighth, but the deep effort allowed Bochy to mix and match in the bullpen, and ultimately he found the right mix. Hunter Strickland and Mark Melancon closed it out and got Blach his second win.

--- From last night, Joe Panik's huge night helped give Blach an early lead. With the help of Ron Wotus and his shift charts, he also put on a show defensively.

--- We're trying something new right after the final pitch: Here are five quick takeaways from the 6-4 win.

--- The options game sent Kelby Tomlinson back to Triple-A on Wednesday when the Giants activated Melancon, but his latest stint in Sacramento comes with a twist. Tomlinson started his third consecutive game in center field on Monday. The Giants are getting a bit more serious about their longtime plan to make Tomlinson a super-utility player. 

“Tommy is a valuable guy in the majors and if we can give him some experience in the outfield, it gives you more flexibility and versatility,” manager Bruce Bochy said. 

This is not Tomlinson’s first foray into the outfield. He did work there in the offseason after the 2015 season and he has played 25 big league innings in left field the last two seasons. This is Tomlinson’s first real experience with center field, and while in the past he has said that the transition isn’t as easy as some might think, Bochy is confident Tomlinson can figure it out. He certainly has the speed to be a semi-regular in the outfield, and the Giants aren’t exactly brimming with quality center field options behind Denard Span, who is dealing with his second injury of the season. 

“It’s a little different now,” Bochy said when asked about Tomlinson’s past experiences in the outfield. “He’s in Sacramento doing it, and knowing there’s a possibility we could need help in the outfield.”

If the switch doesn’t come in handy this season, it could in 2018. Bochy compared Tomlinson’s infield-outfield ability to Eduardo Nuñez, who has found regular playing time in left but is a free agent after the year. 

--- Hunter Pence did some light running in the outfield before Monday’s game. Bochy said Pence is still about a week away from being an option.

--- Bochy has said it a few times now when asked about the standings, so it’s officially a new motto for a team that got off to a brutal start: “We’ve put ourselves in a great situation for a great story.”

--- They're starting to get a little grumpy around here with their team hovering around .500. Perhaps the Cubs thought they could fool a few on the way out of Wrigley.