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 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.