Invigorated Giants surge to scoring record at Petco

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Invigorated Giants surge to scoring record at Petco

SAN DIEGO Now that Melky Cabrera is but shadow and specter,who is under the most pressure to step up in the Giants lineup?

Is it Pablo Sandoval, the jubilant switch-hitting Panda,whose return overlapped just one day with Cabrera before the 50-game suspension camedown?

Is it Hunter Pence, the big piece acquired at the tradedeadline? Is it Brandon Belt, who has shown so much life of late amid so manywasted stretches this season? Or Angel Pagan remaining a spark in the leadoffspot? Or Marco Scutaro continuing to make a surprising contribution?

Or does Buster Posey simply have to keep hitting .430 with aslugging percentage near .800 for the remainder of the second half?

Maybe its all of them. They showed what a collection ofsmart, tenacious at-bats can accomplish Friday night, and the result was a 10-1victory and the most potent inning by an opposing team in nine seasons at PetcoPark.
RECAP: Giants 10, Padres 1

The Giants became the first opponent to score an eight-runinning in the ample ballpark wedged next to the Western Metal Supply Co.building. And they did it without a grand slam or even a solo home run. They racked up those eight runs by working counts, spoiling pitchers strikes andmaking hard contact on mistakes.

Belt fouled off seven pitches while drawing a 12-pitch walk,and even he was surprised to learn it lasted so long.

Sandoval fouled off one pitch with Scutaro on the move, thensmartly took another with a 2-2 count that allowed Scutaro to steal (and takethird on a throwing error). Sandoval wasted no time cashing in the chance,punching a hard RBI single through the right side.

Pence, who was 1-for-26 against the Padres this season,contributed a well-struck double that drove in another run.

And Pagan provided the flash by hitting his third triple ofthe month (while getting within four of matching Willie Mays single-seasonfranchise record of 12.)

And we havent even mentioned Brandon Crawford, who startedthe rally with a double and ended up scoring twice in the inning. (Yes, aGiants player scored twice in the same inning at Petco Park. Im not sure ifthats ever happened, either.)

So who is the key, again?

I think its more of a group thing, Belt said. Everybodyhas to pick up the slack, especially for a guy like Melky. I dont have anydoubt we can do that.

A game like this and in a place that has shown the Giants hittersplenty of frustration over the years can only reinforce that belief.

I think it gives us confidence and momentum going into thenext few games, knowing without one of our best players, we can score runs,Belt said.

It was a sight to behold for Matt Cain, too. The Giantsremain a pitching-oriented team, and theres no way they can win the N.L. Westwithout maintaining the base of the pyramid. So every game that they can playwithout putting their pitchers in a vise grip, the better itll be for everyoneshealth and sanity.
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We have a great team and a great group of guys, Cain said.They all know what they can do. What happened on Wednesday was tough for allof us, a shock for all of us. But youve got to turn the page real fast, andthe guys did a good job with that.

Manager Bruce Bochys chuck wagon helped with that. TheGiants had played 20 consecutive games before Thursdays day off, and severalplayers along with the coaching staff took advantage of the down time to attacka menu that included chicken, tri-tip and ribs along with baked beans and therequisite potato salad.

There was nothing left, Bochy said. They did a good jobon it.

Bochy noted that more than anything, the day off freshenedup a team that needed a physical and mental break. He was glad that Cain lastedeight innings, allowing him to give the bullpen an even longer charging period.(And it should be noted that the Giants dont have any more long stretcheswithout a day off; they have four breaks in the schedule and wont play morethan 10 in a row the rest of the way.)

The Giants even started Sandoval on a 3-2 pitch with oneout, signaling that his strained hamstring continues to get better.

With where he is now, when its time to put him in motion, were going to doit, Bochy said.

The Giants hope theyll put much more in motion over thesenext six weeks. It takes light, after all, to create shadows.

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today. 

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija whirled and fired a strike to Eduardo Nuñez shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. With that, the Giants took another step back toward actual baseball.

Monday was the first day of live batting practice sessions, but the most important one took place thousands of miles east of Scottsdale Stadium. Johnny Cueto faced teenage prospects at the club’s facility in Santo Domingo, and Bruce Bochy said he would call Cueto to check in on his progress. 

The Giants are not concerned that Cueto — who is tending to his ill father — is missing so much of spring training. They know him well enough by now to know that Cueto paces himself and takes care of his body. They are, however, starting to get a little concerned about Cueto missing so much camp and then going straight to the World Baseball Classic. 

“The spring started early so he’s got plenty of time to get ready for (opening day),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The question will be will he be ready for the WBC. That’s the question we have to answer.”

Bochy said he would like to see Cueto in the 50-60 pitch range before he goes off to compete for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican team opens play March 9 at Marlins Park. 

“We’re going to talk about a lot of things,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where he’s at, see where he’s at mentally, and see how his father is doing.”

Bochy noted that Nolan Ryan used to show up to camp on March 1 and throw 80 mph, working his way up from there. The Giants view Cueto the same way, but at some point there will be a breaking point where the WBC participation becomes a real concern. At the very least, Bochy said, Cueto might be asked to join the DR team later in the tournament.