Jokester Scutaro rewarded for 2012 performance

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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 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco … 

 

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Aaron Hill didn't play in the final Cactus League game, but he didn't need to. By simply being on the flight to San Francisco on Tuesday, Hill got good news. 

The veteran infielder was due a $100,000 bonus on Tuesday, and while the Giants haven't formally announced their roster, you don't pay a man that much money to come play three exhibition games against the A's. Hill appears to have made this club as a second backup infielder, along with Conor Gillaspie. Another veteran, Jimmy Rollins, got the news that the Giants are headed in a different direction. 

Team officials spoke with Rollins this week about their future plans. He was not on the travel roster Tuesday and did not attend the game against the Cubs. 

"We're waiting to hear back from him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He knows the scenario and the situation. We're waiting to hear back."

Rollins, 38, showed the Giants that he can still handle shortstop defensively, and he was a quick learner when he moved to second. But he hit just .119, falling behind Hill, Kelby Tomlinson and others in the mix for bench spots. It would seem unlikely that Rollins would want to get additional at-bats in Triple-A, but that feeling hadn't been fully conveyed to team officials Tuesday. There was a hope that Rollins, an East Bay native, might join the team for the Bay Bridge Series, which finishes Saturday in Oakland. Rollins grew up an A's fan.

Rollins and Hill were part of a crowded infield group at the start of camp. Gordon Beckham also had a retention bonus and he asked to be released when he was told he wouldn't make the opening day roster. David Hernandez, the third player due a bonus, also was released. He promptly signed with the Atlanta Braves.