Pagan, Schierholtz make strides at plate

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Pagan, Schierholtz make strides at plate

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Giants manager Bruce Bochy saw a bunchof tired, overworked hitters the past week. So he locked the cages Wednesdaymorning, pushed back the workout by a half hour and limited drills to defensivestuff on a back field.

The Giants didnt exactly bust out in a 4-1 victory over thebillion-dollar Los Angeles Dodgers, but a couple of their struggling hittersshowed signs of life.

Angel Pagan lined a double for the second consecutive day his two-bagger on Tuesday broke an 0-for-24 streak and said he felt betterafter making a mechanical tweak. And Nate Schierholtz, who still hasnt sewn upthe starting right field job, hit a two-run home run to the opposite field.Schierholtz also threw out a runner trying to go from first to third on asingle.

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Hes been working hard and he got better swings today,Bochy said of Schierholtz. Its time for all of us to swing the bat better.

Schierholtz got six at-bats in minor league camp on Tuesdayand that might have helped his timing at the plate. Pagan did the same thing aweek earlier and will go back to load up on at-bats in the minors again as earlyas Thursday.

Bochy said Pagan has had a couple rough springs and welooked into that. I talked to him about that. He says hes feeling better.

EXTRA BAGGS: Pagan can't buy a break

Pagan probably wasnt in danger of losing his job as theGiants leadoff hitter and center fielder, but club officials were beginning toworry as his average plummeted near the .170 mark. They also have a worthyalternative in non-roster outfielder Gregor Blanco, who has been the surpriseof camp.

Although his body language didnt always send the samemessage, Pagan said he was never truly worried.

To me its not about results, he said, denying he knew aboutthe 0-for-24. Im feeling better at the right time. I just want to feelcomfortable and not feeling youre jumping at the plate.

Pagan watched video from 2010 and realized he had changedhis hands.

I made that adjustment and its a great sign, Pagan said. Imseeing the ball really good and my timing is perfect. I just had to get mymechanics right.

Obviously, I wasnt feeling great but I wasnt worriedbecause I work too hard. I know Im going to get that feeling. To me, its veryimportant to feel good at the end of spring, and I do now.

Assuming Pagan is the leadoff man on April 6, hell get thehonor of being in the batters box for the first pitch of the season.

This is my fourth (opening day) as a leadoff hitter and Imvery proud of myself that Ive been this far, he said. I take a lot of pridein that first day. I play with my heart and hopefully the fans like it and itswhat we need to win a championship.

It seems like everybody is committed to win and thats agreat attitude.

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.