Santiago Casilla shocks the world, gets a hit

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Santiago Casilla shocks the world, gets a hit

BOX SCORE

PHOENIX The Giants 6-2 victory Saturday night moved themanother 24 hours nearer to an NL West sprayfest, they had the added pleasure ofbeating the Arizona Diamondbacks, Pablo Sandoval had an encouraging game withthe bat and glove and Hunter Pence nearly up-chucked his postgame kale when he learned he has almost as many RBIs as hitsafter ripping a grand slam.

But lets begin this exposition with the important stuff.

Santiago Casilla got a hit.

As in base hit. A single. And, to risk blowing off the top of your skull,he picked up an RBI, too.

Hey, I was seeingthe ball good tonight, said the smiling right-handed reliever, whose backward-reelinghitting style resembles a dizzy piata swing if youre afraid the piata haseight-inch fangs.

Casilla had two career plate appearances entering Saturdaynight, and they were memorable to everyone but Casilla. He had more recoil than a .500 Magnum while drawing a comical walk last year at Florida and he struck out earlier this year at Milwaukee.

Then his spot in the lineup came up with the bases loaded inthe eighth inning. Whatever the outcome, this was going to be good.

Casilla showed bunt on the first pitch and bailed out. Hewas under orders not to swing, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

But

After he took one, he looked at me, Bochy said. I toldhim, Go ahead and swing. I think we were all shocked, really, that he evenmade contact.

Matt Lindstrom threw a 95 mph fastball and Casilla fisted itto the right side, where it snuck through. And just like that, he has a .667 on-base percentage for his career -- areal Moneyball player. And to think, the As gave him away.

The Giants already had one braggadocio in their bullpen withJeremy Affeldt. Now, alas, they have two. What did Affeldt think of Casillas form?

The one where he jumped in their dugout or the one where hegot the hit? Affeldt said. I tell ya, he had a flat bat. Hes got an RBI. I tip my hat.

All the hard work hes doing, Affeldt added, stifling agrin, its paid off.

But if there ever comes a day when Affeldt has to faceCasilla

If he gets a hit off me, I will take my uniform top off, walkoff the mound and retire, Affeldt said.

Casilla was presented with the ball from his first bigleague hit and the lineup card. He also commandeered another souvenir: The bathe borrowed from Gregor Blanco.

He's not borrowing it any longer.

Now this is my bat. Its a Blanco bat, Casilla said. Isaid, Give me that bat. He said, No no no no no! I said, I need that bat.Its very good.

Casilla said he never got a hit before in his professionalcareer. Nothing in winter ball, either. So perhaps that explains why he didntknow what to do after running through first base. He turned left when heshouldve turned right, then had to double-step it to the bag to avoid gettingtagged out.

I mean, who panics after a base hit? Affeldt said. Theykept replaying it and the shock on his face was the best part.

Maybe Casilla just needed experience. He said last time, hetried the dead pull approach and struck out. This time?

Go the other way, he said. I try to be like Posey.

Its a game of adjustments, right?

If anything, Casilla proved the old clich beyond any reasonable doubt: Any majorleaguer with a bat in his hands really is dangerous.

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

Giants spring training Day 9: Bumgarner, Melancon face hitters

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Madison Bumgarner aims to get all 27 outs every time he takes the mound, but on Tuesday the coaching staff gave the ace a nice view of the man who will help out if his nights are cut short. 

Bumgarner threw his first live batting practice session of the spring on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium. Mark Melancon, the new closer, followed him. Both players said they felt good. Both also found things to work on in advance of opening day. 

“Strength-wise I felt pretty good, really good, actually,” Bumgarner said. “My command up in the zone was right where I want it. I’m pretty happy with that. My cutter was pretty straight, but that usually comes around pretty quick.”

Melancon didn’t even throw his go-to cutter, saying he usually pockets it until later in camp. He’s getting the feel for his curveball back because he doesn’t throw it until he reports. Like Bumgarner, Melancon said he’s where he needs to be physically.

“I feel really good,” he said. “In years past there has been some slowness but I don’t feel that this year. I’m right where I want to be.”

The Giants have not finalized a Cactus League rotation, but Bumgarner will likely throw an inning in Friday’s opener. Melancon could follow him, as he’ll throw in the early innings until late March. He said he’ll talk to pitching coach Dave Righetti about closing a game or two over the final days of camp so he can start locking his routine down. It’s probably a lock that he’ll close out that first Bay Bridge Series game back at AT&T Park. 

ICYMI: Here’s actual (shaky) footage of Bumgarner throwing today. At one point, he gave Denard Span a hard time for missing a slider that he was told was coming. Span had a good reason. “I didn't understand him when he said it because of his accent,” he said. 

ICYMI, PART II: The latest podcast is a couple of interviews with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Law explained how he ordered 800 chicken nuggets for his wedding. 

CUETO UPDATE: The Giants now expect Johnny Cueto to join camp this weekend. His status for the WBC is up in the air. Speaking of the WBC, trainer Dave Groeschner will be leaving camp on Feb. 27 to work with manager Hensley Meulens and the Netherlands. Bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu is also working with the team, which opens play in Seoul. Anthony Reyes will be head trainer while Groeschner is gone.

PROSPECT WATCH: Bruce Bochy said right-hander Ray Black was a standout during early live BP sessions. “He had a hell of an outing yesterday,” Bochy said. “They said he was really good.”   Black, 26, still throws 100-plus. He still has command issues, though, with 32 walks in 31 1/3 innings last year. If he can get over that hump and stay healthy, he might rocket to the big leagues.

QUOTABLE: After just about every start last season — most of which were dominant — Bumgarner said he wasn’t happy with his mechanics. He said Tuesday that he’s still searching for the perfect feeling. “I was being a perfectionist,” he said. “If you’re being a perfectionist, I really haven’t had (my mechanics) where I wanted the last couple of years. It’s not like it’s too far off, obviously.”

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants have been watching high-quality clips of Johnny Cueto all spring, even though the co-ace has remained in the Dominican Republic. On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy finally managed to get face-to-face with Cueto. Kind of. 

Cueto spoke to Bochy, trainer Dave Groeschner and others via FaceTime, and all involved finally managed to hammer out a schedule for Cueto’s arrival. Cueto has been in the Dominican Republic tending to his ill father, Domingo, but he is expected to arrive in Scottsdale this weekend. Cueto is working to secure a visa for his father, who will travel with him.

Bochy wanted to have a long discussion with Cueto to get a sense of how ready he’ll be for the World Baseball Classic. Cueto’s participation is still up in the air, and not just because he has missed the first week of camp. There is a chance, Bochy said, that Cueto will choose to stay in Scottsdale to continue taking care of his father. The Dominican Republic opens play in Miami on March 9.

“He said he knows he’s got to make a decision real soon regarding what he does,” Bochy said. “Pitching or not pitching, he’s got to let them know as soon as possible.”

Cueto has been throwing to hitters at a facility in Boca Chica. He threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.