Reds postgame notes: Phillips shines under bright lights

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Reds postgame notes: Phillips shines under bright lights

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- With apologies to Shawn Marion, go ahead and call Brandon Phillips "The Matrix."And not just in reverence to the seeming space-time continuum-defying move he pulled in the basepaths while avoiding a tag from Marco Scutaro to squelch a double-play attempt in the eighth inning.No, there was also his game-turning two-run home run off Matt Cain on a 1-and-2, 80-mph hanging curveball.And his spectacular sliding back up of a wild throw at first base. Not to mention his ninth-inning run-scoring single.The Reds second baseman was everywhere in Cincinnati's 5-2 victory to open up this National League Division Series."I'm a flashy player, but I do the fundamental things too, like backing up (first base) because that would have opened up the inning a lot. You never know what will happen."Everybody is watching (on TV). It's a good time to be famous. Either you're going to be famous in a good way, oR a bad way, and I want to be famous in a good way."Last year, Reds Game 2 starter Bronson Arroyo gave up a major league-leading 46 home runs, when no other pitcher in the major leagues surrendered more than 35 homers.This year, Arroyo's homers-allowed total was down to 26, with 16 on the road.So why are the Reds giving him a start on the road, when that's where he gives up the long ball?"We debated with that and we decided to come up with that because our ballpark is a tiny ballpark, and Arroyo has a tendency sometimes to give up home runs, and (Mat) Latos is more of a strikeouttype pitcher," said Reds manager Dusty Baker. "That's why we went with what we did. Unless it works, you'll always be second guessing, do you know what I mean? If it works, you're great, if it doesn't work, then why didn't you have somebody else?"Latos coming in relief of injured starter Johnny Cueto made the point moot, of course, but even Arroyo acknowledged the sites of the Games 2 and 3 made the call obvious with AT&T Park a spacious pitcher's paradise, compared the Great American Ballpark's bandbox.GUTIERREZ: Baker flips script on Giants in Game 1 victory
"It's a world of difference," Arroyo said."We talk about it all the time, different ballparks, but these basically two are about as far apart in the game as you can get, especially in here, the ball not traveling that great and it plays big everywhere, and our ballpark plays tiny everywhere."So it's a huge advantage for our starting staff and theirs as well to be able to pound the strike zone a little more, have some more room for error and not worrying about balls on the outer half to righty being flicked over the right field wall as they can in our place. So it's going to be interesting because both sides have to deal with the same dimensions of these ballparks and how different it's going to be to play at one place versus the other."Cueto, on when he first felt a discomfort: "When I was throwing long toss, nothing happened, everything was feeling well.As I went to the bullpen, I was warming up and everything went perfect. It was only on the last two throws when I felt a sharp pain on my right side.Then I was getting ready to go back to the dugout, I just went and talked to the head trainer and told him about. He put some heat on it"The Reds have won the first game of a postseason series eight previous times and have won the series seven times. Included in that run -- the 1919 World Series against the Chicago White Sox, also known as the Black Sox Scandal...closer Aroldis Chapman's final four pitches of the night, to Buster Posey, were clocked at 99, 100, 100 and 100 mph.

Injured Michael Morse will stick with Giants, work way up from Triple-A

Injured Michael Morse will stick with Giants, work way up from Triple-A

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Michael Morse isn't ready to give up on his comeback. 

Morse, sidelined by a hamstring injury, said he will continue to rehab with the organization, with the plan of eventually going to Triple-A and working his way up to the big leagues. Morse hasn't played since getting hurt March 20 in Glendale. He was initially given a two-to-three week diagnosis, but because he wants to let the strain heal completely, he anticipates missing closer to a full month. 

Morse said he's on the same page with general manager Bobby Evans. He will get healthy at the minor league facility in Scottsdale.

"I'll then go to Triple-A and play games and figure it out from there," he said. "I'm going to get healthy and play some games and if that point the team is 20-0, I know I probably won't get called up. If they need me, that'd be great."

The Giants are hopeful it works out. Before getting hurt, Morse had three spring homers and was in position to make the opening day roster. Without Morse, the Giants are light on right-handed power options for the bench.

 

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

Giants spring training Day 40: Belt continues domination of Rockies' home park

BELT RIVER FIELDS, Ariz. — Earlier this spring, Brandon Belt moved his schedule around so he could get additional at-bats. That led to some random trips across the desert, but there was never any doubt Belt would be in Friday’s road lineup.

Belt demolishes the ball at Salt River Fields, spring home of the Rockies and Diamondbacks. After coming out of Friday’s win, he shook his head in mock disgust when talking about the day’s stats.

“One for four, you’ve gotta be kidding me,” Belt said. “That’s terrible.”

That one happened to be a homer, a three-run shot off Jon Gray, the likely opening day starter for the Rockies. Belt thought he crushed the ball but it ended up pretty high, so it simply dropped onto the berm in right. 

“It squeaked out,” Belt said. “Good mojo, I guess.”

The mojo kept his remarkable run going at Salt River. His updated career stats here: 22 for 35, with eight homers, four doubles, one triple and 18 RBI. Belt said he’s not quite sure why he turns into the flames emoji every time he steps onto this field. 

“I don’t know what it is, but I like hitting here,” he said. “Maybe it’s the batter’s eye?”

Salt River has a dark green batter’s eye with no distractions on either side, and the Giants certainly saw the ball well Friday. They had seven straight hits in the third before Gray was pulled with a sore foot. Belt hit second, and manager Bruce Bochy said that wasn’t simply because Joe Panik had the day off. Bochy will look at several different lineup permutations over the next week, and a Span/Belt/Pence/Posey/Crawford one-through-five is one option. 

“I like (that spot) a lot,” Belt said. “I feel good getting started and knowing I’ll get to bat in the first inning. It’s a good spot. I don’t think my approach changes that much: Get a pitch to hit and try to hit it hard.”

GAME RECAP: Jeff Samardzija was sharp in four innings, allowing just two hits and striking out three. He threw about 45 pitches on the field and then went down to the bullpen for 45 more. Samardzija certainly benefited from having Buster Posey back in the lineup. He said Posey noticed during warmups that Samardzija’s delivery was a little flat and his arm was dragging too low. 

“That doesn’t happen often,” Samardzija said of having a guy like Posey back there. “You have a lot of catchers who are afraid to say something.”

The rest of this one was a laugher until the ninth, when the Rockies rallied and brought the winning run to the plate. It hasn’t been a great spring for the bullpen.

STOCK WATCH: Chris Marrero hit a deep homer, his seventh of the spring. He also made a nice pick at first, where he looks much more comfortable. At this point, it appears it’s either Marrero or Kelby Tomlinson for that final bench spot.

TRAINER’S ROOM: The news on Will Smith was as expected. He will have Tommy John surgery next week. 

There is good news for Trevor Brown: The catcher, who has a sore ankle, took some swings and he’s feeling much better. Brown did not, as first reported, get hurt hiking on an off day. It happened during a game. Brown won’t be ready in time to return to Cactus League action, so he’ll likely stay here during the Bay Bridge Series and then travel home with Triple-A Sacramento. 

ICYMI: Brandon Crawford, Buster Posey and Mark Melancon are back in camp. Here’s a story on Posey’s WBC experience, with the catcher saying he’d like to play again in four years. Here’s Crawford on his month, which ended with him giving an NL West rival a slump-busting bat. 

ROSTER UPDATE: The Giants released David Hernandez, at his request. They have started to tell others that they’re not making the opening day roster, so there should be a series of minor transactions this weekend. (You know where to go.)

QUOTABLE: "I swung at a heater and a slider went right into my bat. I was happy to be able to track (pitches), and happy that the next time the bunt didn't go off my beautiful face." -- Samardzija, when asked about his double off the wall.