Schierholtz envisions no U-turns in 2012

571378.jpg

Schierholtz envisions no U-turns in 2012

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Nate Schierholtz spent the winterrunning with parachutes and pulling sleds, and no, he wasnt a contestant onThe Amazing Race."He does hope to be off to the races in 2012, though.By the time I leave here, I plan to make the stolen basepart of my game, said Schierholtz, the Giants incumbent right fielder.Definitely, I know its something Ill be comfortable doing.He hasnt been comfortable in the past, as his career stats illustrate. In parts of five seasons, the 28-year-old has stolen 17 bases and been caught12 times.Id always worry about making the out, he said.

His reticence to run included called plays from the bench.In one instance at Arizona in 2010, he entered as a pinch runner under ordersto steal second base and got picked off. (He later hit the game-winningtriple in extra innings, so all was forgotten that night.)This season, Schierholtz plans on following orders andexecuting them to success, too.Shoot, Im one of the slower guys in the outfield now,said Schierholtz, who figures to play alongside Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan.All of the sudden, the outfield is a pretty athletic group of guys. Id liketo show I can hang with em.I always felt I was pretty good at going first to third orsecond to home. But I need to steal bases, too, because this is a differentteam this year. Were built around speed and athleticism.Schierholtz is a major cage rat, but he spent time away fromhis bats this winter while working with newly promoted strength andconditioning coordinator Cark Kochan. Out came the parachutes and the sleds.Schierholtz also spent more time in the gym on exercises to strengthen his hipsand core.The key is getting a good jump, he said. Its all inthose first two to three steps.Schierholtz was one of many players on the basepaths morethan an hour before Tuesdays workout, practicing their leads and jumps. Duringthe workout, Kochan conducted a drill in which he shouted out various gamesituations such as sacrifice flies or doubles to the gap.Some easy trots wouldn't be bad, either. Although a fractured foot shortened his season, Schierholtz is coming off his best year at the plate; his nine home runs (in335 at-bats) equaled his career total from the previous four seasons combined(in 699 at-bats).Always labeled a power-hitting prospect in the minors,Schierholtz said there was a simple reason he was able to launch shotsinto McCovey Cove last season.In the past, coming off the bench as an extra outfielder, Iwas so concerned with getting my hits so Id get another opportunity to play,he said. I wasnt trying to drive the ball as much as make sure I got a hit. Everybody knows that if youre on thebench and your average doesnt look too good, youre not going to play.Last year, I learned to let it go a little bit. I figured Ididnt have anything to lose. I decided Id go out and play the way I want toplay. It worked out better than ever before.

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the first time, Gorkys Hernandez did not go back to Venezuela in the offseason to play winter ball. He's hoping that leads to another first. 

Hernandez has never made an opening day roster, but after breaking into the Giants’ outfield rotation last season, he entered the winter in a decent shot. To bolster his case, Hernandez stayed in Scottsdale over the offseason to work out at the minor league facility. The added strength didn’t lead to any notable results over the first month of games, but Hernandez broke through Monday with three doubles in the final home game of the spring.

“Sometimes (slumps) happen and sometimes you’re late (on pitches) and you don’t feel comfortable at the plate, but now I feel different. I feel better,” Hernandez said. “I’m recognizing pitches and trying to keep it simple and not do too much.”

The coaching staff has asked several players to head down to the minor league facility late in the spring and get additional at-bats, and Hernandez took Bruce Bochy up on the offer. He twice played in minor league games, and on Sunday he rotated into different games so he could get six at-bats. Hernandez said that helped him find his timing. 

“Without question, it helped his timing,” Bochy said. “He was off. He was getting out front, his timing was off. I think the at-bats he got paid off.”

The three-double day was perfectly timed. Hernandez entered with a .159 average and Justin Ruggiano, the other option as a backup center fielder, had started to put together better at-bats. Monday’s game was a reminder in more ways than one. Hernandez showed off the type of speed the Giants won’t have on the bench if Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, and he played all three outfield positions, switching from left to right to center. 

The role in play is one Gregor Blanco had for five seasons. The Giants would like Hernandez to be their defensive whiz at every outfield spot, and they’re light on true center fielders. If the Giants put Hernandez on the roster this week as expected, he’ll be ready to try and be the new Blanco. 

“If they give me that role, I’ll try to do the same thing,” he said. “Or better.”

THE ACE: Madison Bumgarner is going to Madison Bumgarner. He threw seven sharp innings Monday, lowering his spring ERA to 2.52. In 25 innings, he has allowed just 17 hits and struck out 23. Bochy appreciated Bumgarner’s intensity Monday against a Reds team that was filled with minor leaguers. 

“That’s what makes him so good,” Bochy said. “He takes every outing seriously. His preparation doesn’t waver.”

Bumgarner even added a single, and he liked that it came on a breaking ball. He’s worked on getting better at hitting those pitches, which he’s seeing more and more. 

“I feel I’m as ready as I can be to start the season,” Bumgarner said. 

His next pitch will be thrown Sunday at Chase Field. 

GAME RECAP: The Giants blasted poor Reds starter Cody Reed, hanging 10 runs on his line in 3 2/3 innings. Denard Span had two hits and Aaron Hill had three, driving in three runs. Bochy went with an interesting lineup, leading off with Span, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. He said he likes Crawford in that five-spot. He also plans to hit the pitcher eighth on occasion.

TRAINER’S ROOM: Joe Panik was drilled by a fastball in the lower back and he came out of the game as a precaution. Panik has a nasty welt, so he’s in for a night of ice, but there are no concerns. 

QUOTABLE: Posey turned 30 today. As he walked out to stretch, Bumgarner was asked if he was giving Posey a hard time. “No, he’s been 30 for the last seven years,” Bumgarner said.