Jokester Scutaro rewarded for 2012 performance

scutaro_marco_giants_swing.jpg

Jokester Scutaro rewarded for 2012 performance

SAN FRANCISCO -- Marco Scutaro has played 11 years of Major League Baseball, but never has he had a season like his 61-game campaign with the Giants last year.

Scutaro hit .362 for San Francisco, quickly commandeering the starting second position in the field and in the lineup, and parlayed his performance into a three-year, $20 million contract that far surpasses any of the veteran's previous deals.

"I was looking for the best contract," Scutaro said honestly. "It may be my last contract, because of my age."

Scutaro, who passed his physical earlier Friday, is acutely aware that Game 7 of the 2015 World Series could very well fall on his 40th birthday.

"Well Omar (Vizquel) played until he was 55," Scutaro joked. "Why not me?"

For a man whose career earnings barely break the $22-million plateau, the new contract might bump him up a tax bracket, but it wasn't quite what the Venezuelan-born infielder had in mind.

"I was looking for three-thousand-million," Scutaro reiterated. "They didn't get close."

Forgoing money for a chance to win, though, is a concept Scutaro is plenty familiar with. He signed a two-year, $10.5 million contract with the Red Sox in 2009 and admitted leaving money on the table in doing so.

Instead of a trip to the playoffs, Scutaro claims only to have gone bald in Boston. Sporting what seemed to be significantly more hair Friday and popping chunks of honeydew melon into his mouth, Scutaro laughed.

"I have no 3-2 sliders. I don't have to get hit by a truck. I don't have to watch video every day or talk with (the media) all the time."

Until he reports to spring training in February, Scutaro plans to remain stress free. It helps that he's keeping things light. When a U.S. Embassy security guard recognized him in Miami,  but couldn't quite place him, Scutaro offered a helping hand.

"You probably know me from Hollywood," Scutaro joked before revealing his true identity.

His true identity was revealed to the Bay Area when he turned down an offer worth more per season from St. Louis to re-join the Giants. It was hardly a spurn, but it couldn't have felt good for the Cardinals, who he torched for 14 hits en route to the NLCS MVP Award. His .500 series followed the gruesome Game 2 collision with Matt Holliday, and while Scutaro had nothing but positive things to say about his talks with the Cardinals, the thought of hitting in front of Holliday registered.

"I told them if they sign me," Scutaro said. "I would kick his ass every day. They probably thought, 'He’d better go to San Francisco.'"

He did, and if all goes as planned, he'll be soaking up raindrops from the middle of AT&T Park's diamond for the next three seasons.

"It all depends on health," Scutaro said, "I think I can play for the next three years. And probably with more hair."

Venezuelan fans might lose some hair over his intentions not to represent his country in the 2013 World Baseball Classic, though they'll take solace in sluggers like Miguel Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval.

"Gotta save my bullets," Scutaro said of his decision.

Giants fans are hoping the bullets will be flying by the time the Giants accept their 2012 championship rings prior to their home opener April 5 -- with Holliday and the visiting St. Louis Cardinals watching.

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.