Minimal changes to Giants' thriving minor-league staff

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Minimal changes to Giants' thriving minor-league staff

The San Francisco Giants have finalized their minor league coaching staff for the 2012 season, the team announced in a press release Wednesday.

Among the minimal changes are three new coaches to the system. Michael Couchee is the new Arizona League Giants pitching coach. Billy Horton, their hitting coach. And Nestor Rojas will be the Augusta hitting coach.

Below is the text contained in the team's press release:

San Francisco's minor league affiliates put together another successful year in 2011 with its farm system producing the third best record (411-352, .539) in all of organized baseball. In addition, the San Francisco Giants were named as Topps 2011 Organization of the Year for thriving with homegrown players in the minor leagues as well as at the Major League level. The organization also received this accolade in 2009. The Giants organization had four of their seven affiliates make the postseason. The Arizona Rookie League Giants took first place in their league for the second-consecutive season although they lost in the finals. The Augusta GreenJackets also advanced to the Championship game, but dropped a best-of-3 series. The Richmond Flying Squirrels made their first postseason appearance during their two-year franchise as they were eliminated in the Eastern League Championship series. After finishing first overall in the North Division the San Jose Giants advanced to the first round of the playoffs.

There have been minimal changes to the Giants managerial ranks as Dave Machemer (double-A Richmond), Andy Skeels (Class A Advanced San Jose), Lipso Nava (Class A Augusta), Tom Trebelhorn (short-season Salem-Keizer) and Jesus Tavarez (Dominican Summer League Giants) will remain at their managerial posts. Bob Mariano, who was the organizations Coordinator of Minor League Hitting Instruction last season, will be swapping positions with Steve Decker as he takes the helm of Triple-A Fresno and Decker becomes the new Coordinator of Minor League Hitting Instruction with the organization. The only new addition to the Giants minor league managerial ranks is Derin McMains, who will be making his managerial debut with the Arizona Rookie League Giants, after spending the previous two seasons as that teams hitting coach.

Steve Kline has been named as the pitching coach for the San Jose Giants as Mike Caldwell, who was with the Arizona League Giants last season, will replace Kline at Augusta. Hector Borg, who was a coach for the Dominican Summer League Giants last year, will serve in the same role with the Salem-Keizer Volcanoes in 2012. The three new additions to the Giants coaching ranks are Michael Couchee (Pitching Coach Arizona League Giants), Billy Horton (Hitting Coach Arizona League Giants) and Nestor Rojas (Hitting Coach Augusta).

Couchee, 54, will be embarking on his first stint within the Giants organization after spending the previous nine seasons with San Diegos minor league chain, one as triple-A Portlands pitching coach and eight as their Minor League Pitching Coordinator. Prior to his time in San Diegos minor league system, Couchee also held the same post as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheims Minor League Pitching Coordinator for 10 seasons from 1993-2002, following several stints as a pitching coach in that organization. The former pitcher was originally selected in the 19th round of the 1980 First-Year Player Draft by the San Diego Padres and pitched briefly for the big league club in 1983.

Horton, 38, will join the Giants coaching ranks for the first time in his career as he has spent considerable time with many organizations. The former infielder and catcher worked professionally for the Arizona Diamondbacks in numerous roles in 2003 and 2006 as well as with a number of Baseball academies in the Phoenix, AZ area. Horton also played in the minor leagues with the Chicago White Sox as well as the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim.

Rojas, 28, will be returning to the Augusta GreenJackets for a second season as a hitting coach. The Venezuelan native played in the Giants minor league system from 2003-2010, reaching as high as triple-A. During his career, the former catcher played in 256 games, hitting .222 (164-for-739) after signing with the organization in 2003.

Roving instructors and medical staff for the upcoming season include: Fred Stanley - Director of Player Development; Shane Turner Coordinator of Instruction; Bert Bradley Coordinator of Minor League Pitching; Steve Decker Coordinator of Minor League Hitting; Joe Amalfitano Special Assistant; Jim Davenport Special Assistant; Lee Smith Roving Pitching Instructor; Jose Alguacil Roving Infield Instructor; Henry Cotto Roving Baserunning and Outfield Instructor; Kirt Manwaring Roving Catching Instructor; Shawon Dunston - Instructor; J.T. Snow - Instructor; Jay Williams Coordinator of Minor League Trainers; Tony Reale Organizational Physical Therapist; Geoff Head Coordinator of Minor League Strength and Conditioning.

San Francisco Giants media services contributed to this report

Giants Notes: Marrero gets big chance; Rollins goes home

Giants Notes: Marrero gets big chance; Rollins goes home

SAN FRANCISCO -- After more than six weeks in the desert the Giants returned to their chilly home park on Thursday, and manager Bruce Bochy wasn't ready to take some of the mystery out of heated spring races. 

Bochy said he knows who his fifth starter is, but he won't publicly announce it until Friday. Asked about the situation, general manager Bobby Evans offered only that "we're in the same camp" on who that player is. 

In the outfield, it appears Chris Marrero is a near-lock to make the roster after an eight-homer spring, but again, the Giants aren't ready to announce anything. Marrero gets another chance to prove himself Thursday. He's facing a lefty starter, which would be his role, and he's playing left field at AT&T Park for the first time. Is Bochy more interested in the defense or the at-bats against a lefty?

"Both," he said. "I want to take a look at Marrero in left field and see his at-bats. It's not so much the results, but just to see him here on this stage and in this ballpark."

Bochy was behind the cage when Marrero took BP, and while it is only BP, he put on a Madison Bumgarner-like show. 

Bochy also hopes to get Jae-Gyun Hwang into left field one of the next two nights. Hwang is headed for Triple-A when this series is over, where he'll play first, third and left. "If he continues (hitting like this) down in Sacramento, with that bat, you've got to find a spot for him," Bochy said. 

Sense a theme here? Somebody who hits from the right side is going to get a lot of time this year, and while Mac Williamson and Michael Morse are hurt, the two newcomers have a chance to make a statement. Justin Ruggiano is still in the mix, too, although it sounds like he's headed for Triple-A to get 50 or so at-bats to strengthen his shoulder. 

--- Will Smith had Tommy John surgery in Los Angeles yesterday. The procedure went without surprises, and the initial read from doctors is that Smith should be back in the big leagues next May. This far out, it's hard to be exact, though. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said his shoulder feels great after a couple of late-camp cortisone shots and he'll start at third the next two nights. Nuñez will play four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. If Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, Nuñez would be the backup to Brandon Crawford, along with starting at third. 

--- Jimmy Rollins was given the option of coming up here for this series and finishing his spring in Oakland, near his home. Rollins was told he would not make the team. He went back to the Tampa area, however, and he won't play in this series. 

--- Tyler Beede was out on the field early taking photos and soaking it in. Beede hasn't been to AT&T Park since shooting a cameo for "Silicon Valley." The Giants will start him Saturday, with the idea that it should knock some nerves off for his eventual debut. Beede will be joined by a bunch of minor leaguers, including Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones, Reyes Moronta, Kyle Crick and Austin Slater. Steven Duggar would have been here, but he has a flexor injury and will miss the start of the season. 

--- Brandon Belt will hit second at the start of the year, Bochy said. Belt walked into the park with Santiago Casilla, which threw everyone off in the hallway leading up to the clubhouse. Casilla eventually kept going, all the way to the visitor's clubhouse. I talked to him briefly, and he said that it'll be a weird series for him. Casilla will pitch an inning Friday night. He deserves a big ovation.

--- Javier Lopez was my latest podcast guest. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here. If you like the podcast, please consider leaving a rating! 

--- Finally, as part of our rebranding, my Twitter account has changed. It's still the same account, just a new name. The tweets about reliever at-bats are not going anywhere. 

Evans: Cain's strong final spring start 'does give him an edge' over Blach

Evans: Cain's strong final spring start 'does give him an edge' over Blach

Matt Cain entered spring training competing with Ty Blach for the fifth starter spot.

On Thursday morning, Giants GM Bobby Evans provided an update on the position battle.

"Blach put up a good spring for himself, and it does make the decision harder," Evans said on KNBR 680. "We'll process it today with the coaching staff and Boch and I, and we'll make a final call."

Back in early February, Evans said: "“In a perfect world, Matt Cain would be Matt Cain and he would take that spot."

Over seven games (six starts) this spring, Cain went 0-1 with a 7.82 ERA.

[PAVLOVIC: Cain makes case for Giants' rotation spot in final Cactus League start]

Blach went 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA over seven appearances (two starts).

Cain is making nearly $21 million this season in what is the final guaranteed year of the 6-year, $127.5 million deal he signed in April 2012.

"Again, with the track record that Matt Cain's had overall, it would seem easy," Evans said. "But yet, the last couple years have been so rough and we've had the injuries and the hard contact against him.

"But he did finish strong with the Cubbies (Cubs) and I think it does give him an edge as we close out this decision."