Mota withstands the test of time

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Mota withstands the test of time

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Spring training is the time to writefeatures. That means feature interviews. And that means hearing this stock answerfrom teammates when they talk glowingly about each other: Hes the first toarrive and the last to leave."Unless youre asking about Guillermo Mota.
Motas daily arrival has become a celebrated event in camp.Thats because he pushes the boundaries of being on time. Some players showup hours before the 10 a.m. workout. Most stroll in by 9 at the latest. One recent morning, Mota walked in at 9:46.The next day, he sauntered into the clubhouse at 9:43. Why so early? one clubhouse attendant asked him.(No wagering, please.) Motas quick uniform change at his locker doesnt bother thecoaching staff. After all, in a sense, Mota is practicing for the season. Therewere several times when a starter got knocked out and he had to get ready in ahurry. Mota rescued the Giants every single time -- and not just for that night. A "Johnny Wholestaff" game has a way of wiping out a bullpen for an entire homestand or road trip.Before last season, Mota, 38, had spent 12 years in themajor leagues and never had an appearance last more than three innings. Heended up eclipsing that mark four times in 2011, including a 4 23-inningappearance against the Minnesota Twins. (That was the infamous game in whichMadison Bumgarner gave up nine hits to the 10 batters he faced.) He has a totally rubber arm, left-hander Dan Runzler said.So it was a no-brainer to bring back Mota on his thirdconsecutive one-year contract. He even gave the Giants a break, agreeing todelay the deal for several months while they juggled their 40-man roster space. Mota never seems to worry about a thing. If theres ever a guy who was a Steady Eddie, itsGuillermo Mota, said left-hander Javier Lopez. Hes been asked to wear a lotof hats, from long relief to setup, and hes never complained a bit. He doesntcomplain about getting the ball. He doesnt complain about being sore. He setsa good example for the guys, especially for the younger guys. Including the value of sleeping an extra hour?OK, maybe not, Lopez said. But he gets his throwing in.Hes always in the weight room. Hes out there doing his work. Hes got aroutine he likes, and whos to argue? When you look at his career, there arenttoo many better relievers in the league. You dont pitch a lot unless a manager has confidence in you. Aglance at the active leaderboard for appearances shows that a lot of managershave felt very comfortable putting Mota on the mound.He ranks sixth among active pitchers with 717 appearances. You've probably heard of the guys ahead of him: Mariano Rivera, (1,042)
Arthur Rhodes, (900)
LaTroy Hawkins (823)
Kyle Farnsworth (776)
Francisco Cordero (753)When Felipe Alou first heard of Mota, he was a newlyacquired shortstop yes, shortstop -- from the New York Mets system."They told me, 'Hey! We are going to convert this guy,'"said Alou, who was managing the Montreal Expos at the time. I remember thatguy was a better fielder than any other pitcher we had. We heard he was a gooddefensive shortstop. I dont know what the bat looked like. Maybe it wasn't too good.(If Mota were present for this interview, he surely wouldhave interjected that he hit a home run in his first big league at-bat.) But I knew the arm, Alou continued. We put him on themound and I believe in two years, he was in the big leagues.Mota is one of just 16 active big leaguers remaining who wore aMontreal Expos uniform. Several big names either havent signed or announcedtheir retirement in the past few weeks. Among them: Vladimir Guerrero, OrlandoCabrera and Javier Vazquez.(Getting off on a tangent, but in fact, the Giants coachingstaff is quite the Expos alumni club. Bench coach Mark Gardner, hitting coachHensley Meulens and first base coach Roberto Kelly all played for the club. AndAlou is a special assistant, of course.) Yet here is Mota, still pushing the boundaries of time. Inevery respect.A good career, you think? he asked me. Yeah, sure. Id say so.Me too, he said.

Giants lineup: Panik leading off in series opener vs Cubs

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AP

Giants lineup: Panik leading off in series opener vs Cubs

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series opener in Chicago:

Giants (19-26)
1. Joe Panik (L) 2B
2. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Eduardo Nunez (R) LF
7. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Ty Blach (R) P (1-2, 4.15 ERA)

Cubs (22-20) 
1. Ben Zobrist (S) LF
2. Albert Almora Jr. (R) CF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Willson Contreras (R) C
6. Addison Russell (R) SS
7. Jason Heyward (L) RF
8. Javier Baez (R) 2B
9. John Lackey (R) P (4-3, 4.37 ERA)

Former Giants top prospect earns first career MLB win with Twins

Former Giants top prospect earns first career MLB win with Twins

BOX SCORE

MINNEAPOLIS -- Adalberto Mejia made the most of his brief stint back in the majors with the Minnesota Twins by getting his first big-league win.

Robbie Grossman, Max Kepler and Chris Gimenez all homered to help Mejia and the Twins beat the Kansas City Royals 8-4 in the second game Sunday to salvage a split of a doubleheader.

Mejia (1-1) was the Twins' 26th active player for the second game and allowed three runs in seven innings, on two home runs by Salvador Perez - who also went deep in the first game.

Mejia's reward for his first win? A trip back to Triple-A Rochester.

"I'm going to go down there and work on the things they told me work on," Mejia said through interpreter Carlos Font. "Then it will be up to them to see when I get back."

Grossman and Kepler each hit two-run homers in the first inning, and Brian Dozier had an RBI double in the second off Ian Kennedy (0-4) in his first game back from the disabled list.

Brandon Moss hit two of Kansas City's four home runs in the opener of the doubleheader, and Perez and Jorge Bonifacio each hit two-run homers to lead the Royals to a 6-4 win earlier in the day.

With the split, the Twins are now 7-1 on the year against the Royals. Kansas City's win in the first game snapped a seven-game losing streak against Minnesota.

Kennedy, who returned after missing time with a hamstring strain, said he felt fine physically. He walked three batters and gave up a pair of two-run homers in just two innings Sunday.

"He was way out of whack," manager Ned Yost said. "His leg was fine. He felt normal, felt good. Just timing was off, rhythm was off."

MINOR'S WIN

Mike Minor's road back to the majors was not an easy one. Shoulder surgery kept him out of the majors for two years and resulted in a move to the bullpen.

Minor got his first victory since 2014 with 1 1/3 scoreless innings of relief in the first game Sunday. He relieved Jake Junis with a 5-2 lead in the fifth, two outs and two on. The 29-year-old left-hander walked Max Kepler, then retired Kennys Vargas on a popup. Minor retired the side in order in the sixth.

Minor had surgery to repair a torn labrum in his pitching shoulder in May 13, 2015, and did not appear in the major leagues in 2015 and 2016. Minor, who signed a $7.25 million, two-year contract with the Royals in February 2016, got his first major league victory since Aug. 28, 2014, for Atlanta.

JUNIS' FIRST START

Kansas City's Jake Junis, a 24-year-old right-hander, was recalled from Triple-A Omaha and made his first big league start after a pair of relief appearances. He allowed two runs, five hits and four walks in 4 2/3 innings, leaving after RBI singles from Brian Dozier and Miguel Sano.

Junis found out Saturday that he would be making his first career start. He didn't pitch deep enough to get the win, but impressed manager Ned Yost before the Royals optioned Junis back to Omaha after the game.

"I thought he did a nice job," Yost said. "We tried to get him through that fifth inning, but we needed to win this game."

ROYALS MOVES

Kansas City left fielder Alex Gordon missed the second game to join his wife, who is due to give birth on Monday. Infielder Raul Mondesi replacing Gordon on the roster but was optioned to Triple-A Omaha after the game. That means LHP Miguel Almonte, initially the Royals' 26th active player Sunday, remains on the 25-man roster. ... RHP Al Alburquerque was designated for assignment to make room on the roster for Junis.

TRAINER'S ROOM

Royals: RHP Nate Karns had his pitching arm evaluated after Friday's start against Minnesota. Manager Ned Yost said fluid was found in the elbow area but Karns does not have a strain. Karns exited his start Friday after five innings and threw just 72 pitches due to stiffness in his arm.

Twins: RHP Phil Hughes was placed on the 10-day disabled list Sunday with shoulder discomfort. Hughes took the loss in the first game of Sunday's doubleheader. Right-hander Kyle Gibson will take Hughes' place on the roster.

UP NEXT

Royals: LHP Jason Vargas (5-2, 2.03 ERA) starts Monday's series opener at the New York Yankees.

Twins: RHP Kyle Gibson (0-4, 8.20 ERA) will be recalled from Triple-A Rochester to start Monday against Baltimore.