Morse calls his shot before first spring training homer back with Giants

Morse calls his shot before first spring training homer back with Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — After pulling up film of his previous at-bats, Michael Morse sunk into a clubhouse chair to watch the top of the seventh inning of a game against Puerto Rico. As he looked up at the TV, Morse smiled and shook his head.

“You know what’s ironic?” he said. “I always have great springs. I think I have like 100 career RBI in spring training.”

It was actually 103 at the time, with 32 homers and a .326 average. But Morse entered Wednesday’s exhibition game with .214 average, and no home runs or extra-base hits in his bid to go from non-roster invitee to the Opening Day roster. It was pointed out to him that this is the one spring where he actually needs to put up huge numbers, and he nodded as he got up for the bottom of the inning.

“Let me go hit a homer,” he said, laughing.

Five minutes later, Morse finally got on the board. He went deep to left-center, bringing his good friend Hunter Pence trotting in from third. When Morse walked back into the clubhouse, he raised his arms.

“I didn’t miss!” he yelled. “It was like, ‘Yes, he’s going to score. Oh, I am, too!’”

Nobody is having more fun than Morse this spring, even with the slow start. He came to camp wearing cheap cleats he had ordered because his equipment deal ran out when he stopped playing last season. He wore high socks with four stripes on them Wednesday, a nod to Pence. He said they made him feel faster.

For days before Wednesday’s game, Morse insisted his swing felt locked-in. He just wasn’t seeing results.

“I feel great and I wouldn’t be here trying to make the team if I didn’t,” he said. “That’s how much respect I have here for these guys.”

Morse is part of a crowded pack of non-roster invitees trying to make an impact. Chris Marrero has four homers, but for the most part, it’s been a quiet spring for Giants bats. Morse said that’s led to an interesting dynamic for the veterans. He found himself in the video room with Aaron Hill before that homer, and they marveled at the fact that they are treating every at-bat like it’s the middle of the season. There’s a lot at stake. 

“A lot of us are in the same situation,” he said. “It’s a new situation for pretty much all of us. We’re fighting every day for a chance to break camp with these guys. I have a new appreciation for the guys who come in this way every year. At the same time, you try to have fun. It’s baseball. Anything can happen.”

Morse showed that in 2014 when he returned from a significant oblique injury to help the Giants win the World Series. Giants officials hope he can have a similar impact off the bench this season, and they've given no hint one direction or the other on where Morse stands. All involved said not to read too much into the fact that Morse hasn't played left field in a game yet. 

"It's challenging because we've got two guys out there battling for a spot with (Mac) Williamson and (Jarrett) Parker, but it'd be nice to get him out there," manager Bruce Bochy said. 

Morse takes fly balls in the outfield every morning and he said the Giants should know what he can do out there. He is realistic, pointing out that "I'm not a burner, I'm not super-fast out there." He is still powerful, and he hopes to keep showing it. Bochy said Morse's batting practice session Wednesday morning was his best of the spring, but if that doesn't keep translating into games, Morse won't feel a burden. He is playing pressure-free no matter what. 

"I wish I could have played my whole career like this," he said. "At the end of the day, it's a win-win. They could come up to me at the end of this and say there's no room, and you know what, I'd say 'I'm happy for you guys.'

"For me, there's no pressure. I'm having fun."

Giants notes: Belt gets start in left field; Span 'day-to-day'

Giants notes: Belt gets start in left field; Span 'day-to-day'

DENVER -- Brandon Belt spent some time Sunday morning playing balls off the wall at Coors Field to get accustomed to life as a left fielder. He used to borrow Javier Lopez's glove, but with Lopez retired, Belt snagged a Chad Chop BP glove. It's an outfield glove that Chop said was a gift from Tim Lincecum, and it's apparently from Japanese Nike, whatever that means. 

Belt looked back fondly on his one day in left field last year in Arizona. 

"I was amazing," he said. "I had one Defensive Run Saved."

It's true, he did. Belt made a nice running catch that he brought up as reporters were talking to Denard Span.

"I don't remember that," Span said. 

"I ran into the fence but I stayed in the game," Belt replied. 

Span smiled and admitted he had no comeback. An X-ray came back negative after Span's collision Saturday, and he's hopeful he'll only miss a few days. If it's more than that, the Giants will put him on the 10-day DL. Span had a similar issue with his SC joint in 2012 and missed several weeks. 

"It's a little sore," he said. "Right now I'm day-to-day. The good thing is I've got range of motion."

Span said he immediately thought of Jarrett Parker as he hit the wall. He knew the injury wasn't as bad as Parker's, but "I knew something didn't feel right."

With Span out, Gorkys Hernandez starts in center and Hunter Pence is the backup there. This could be the start of some serious roster juggling. Bochy said the staff has talked about getting Belt more time in left so Buster Posey and Nick Hundley, who is swinging it well, can both start. Eduardo Nuñez is one possibility. Michael Morse and Mac Williamson are not ready yet. Drew Stubbs could be the first one up; he has looked great, according to the reports Bochy is getting. 

"We'll go day-to-day and see how it goes," Bochy said. 

--- If you missed it last night, Bochy isn't thrilled with his starting pitchers, and for good reason. You can talk about Hernandez and Chris Marrero and all that until you're blue in the face, but the resources have been spent on the rotation, and it's been an issue on and off field.

 

In series of roster moves, Mariners call up former Giants pitcher

In series of roster moves, Mariners call up former Giants pitcher

Chris Heston is back in the major leagues.

The former Giants pitcher was recalled as part of a flurry of roster moves by the struggling Mariners prior to Sunday's game against the A's in Oakland.

First baseman Dan Vogelbach was also recalled, while outfielder Leonys Martin was designated for assignment and pitcher Chase De Jong was optioned to Triple-A Tacoma.

Heston was traded by the Giants to Mariners in December for a player to be named later.

In parts of three seasons with the Giants, Heston went 13-12 with a 4.16 ERA and 148 strikeouts in 188 innings.