Scutaro talks continue; Giants weigh LF options

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Scutaro talks continue; Giants weigh LF options

NASHVILLE -- The Giants replaced Angel Pagan with Angel Pagan, and didn't that work out neatly for all parties?

But they still have to figure a plan for left field, and let's not forget that Canadian defector Melky Cabrera led the major leagues in hits and runs when he was suspended for testosterone on Aug. 15.

As of now, the plan is the same as the day Cabrera got popped: Gregor Blanco.

"He did a great job for us so he'll be a part of this club and could be our left fielder," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I can't tell you what's going to happen. Right now, he'll get a lot of playing time in left field."

The Giants are looking for a right-handed complement, and they've checked in with the agent for Scott Hairston. But Hairston reportedly has a two-year offer from Detroit.

Regardless, it's a back-burner issue for the Giants until they reach a result with second baseman Marco Scutaro. Despite all predictions that Scutaro would sign before Pagan, the Giants still find themselves without an agreement with the NLCS MVP -- and the Yankees might have entered the picture now that third baseman Alex Rodriguez is out until at least June because of hip surgery.

Asked to characterize the Scutaro negotiations, Giants VP Bobby Evans said he has been discussing "various offers and considerations from the beginning. Any time you've had the year he had, it'll make clubs look long and hard at how he can help you."

Scutaro hit .362 in 61 games after joining the Giants in the trade that sent minor leaguer Charlie Culberson to the Colorado Rockies. Then Scutaro became unconscious while going 14 for 28 and lifting the Giants to a seven-game NLCS comeback series victory over the St. Louis Cardinals.

Evans said he wouldn't rule out Scutaro, 37, getting a three-year offer on the open market.

"He can play multiple positions and is coming off a great year," Evans said. "The disadvantage is he has a little more age on him."

Evans acknowledged there is a much smaller pool of backup options at second base than there was in center field, if they had been unable to re-sign Pagan. (His four-year, 40 million contract is pending a physical.) Internally, Nick Noonan is the closest second baseman to the big leagues but is seen as more of a utility presence. The best infield prospect in the system, Joe Panik, is another year away.

The Giants have not discussed moving first baseman Brandon Belt to left field or anywhere else, Evans said.

If the Giants are unable to re-sign Scutaro, they might be able to divert some of those funds to the outfield. But they already spent more than they had planned to bring back Pagan, even crossing the bridge of offering a fourth year to a player who has exceeded 123 games in a season just twice in his career.

Evans acknowledged that B.J. Upton's five-year pact with the Atlanta Braves might have reshaped the market for Pagan. The Giants are banking that Pagan's athleticism will allow him to age well.

"You have to respond to the market at some level or be prepared to settle for a secondary option," said Evans, who might have been forced to overpay for Shane Victorino if the club didn't strike a deal with Pagan.

The last time the Giants overpaid for a former Philies outfielder in Nashville, they took home Aaron Rowand for five years and 60 million.

So Bochy was ecstatic to have Pagan back for 2013.

"It's a huge advantage," Bochy said. "You take away a lot of the unknown factors of a player playing in our ballpark. He had a great time here, I know the fans love Angel and there's chemistry with his teammates. He's a big fit for us.

"That's a pretty big need when you need a center fielder and a leadoff hitter, and we took care of both."

Posey thrilled by WBC experience, says he would play again in 2021

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USATSI

Posey thrilled by WBC experience, says he would play again in 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Before he left camp on March 6, Buster Posey was telling teammates and team officials that his involvement in the World Baseball Classic was a one-and-done deal. On Friday, Posey returned to camp with a new outlook.

"It's a great tournament," Posey said. "If you were able to do it in the actual Olympics, it would be even better. I just don't know how to do that other than shutting down the season. But after playing in this tournament, I would be up for that.

"If I had a chance to do it again, I think I would. If you had asked me that three weeks ago, I would have said I don't think I would. That's how much fun I had."

Posey, Brandon Crawford and Mark Melancon were greeted by one teammate after another Friday morning, many of them fellow Americans congratulating the group on helping lead Team USA to its first WBC title. Posey and Crawford, who missed most of March, had kept in touch with teammates via text, and some who reached out said they often got the same message back: "If you have a chance to do this, don't pass it up."

Posey and Crawford will be hitting their mid 30s the next time around. It's no lock that they're still in position to play, but they made the most of their experience this month. Crawford had 10 hits and played his usual stellar defense, earring new fans who don't watch his Gold Glove on a nightly basis. Posey hit a pair of long home runs in four starts. 

Most importantly, both of them returned healthy and ready to play Friday.

"I'm ready for some Cactus League!" Posey said, laughing.

Despite being gone for nearly three weeks, Posey hasn’t actually played that much this month. He started half of Team USA’s games but he was on the bench for the title game. He said that didn’t bother him. Manager Jim Leyland talked to Posey and Jonathan Lucroy before the tournament.

“Of course, as a competitor, you want to be in that game, but Lucroy is a great catcher and he did a great job with (Marcus) Stroman and the rest of the staff,” Posey said. “You can’t go wrong with having him out there.”

Asked if there was one player he enjoyed getting to know, Posey chose Lucroy, saying he has played against him for a long time but never really gotten to know him. He noted how sharp Luke Gregerson's two-seamer was from behind the plate and said he enjoyed catching Pat Neshek and Stroman. 

Team USA grew close over the course of the month, and got better and better as the tournament wore on. Posey said the foreign fans at the early games in Miami helped get the juices flowing, and once the action moved to San Diego, there were loud American fans joining the fray. Team USA defeated the Dominican Republic to get out of that round (Posey hugged Johnny Cueto on Friday morning and chanted “USA! USA!” as he walked off) and then beat Japan in the semis.

Wednesday night’s championship came via a blowout of Puerto Rico. Posey has won at every level, but the moment was not lost on him.

“It’s cliche but there is a certain amount of pride when you have your country’s name on your chest,” he said. “It’s a vibe you get. A lot of us come from different parts of the country and you get to go out and play the game the way you played as a child. It’s America’s pastime, and it was a fun tournament and experience. That made it fun to win it.”

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

Giants spring training Day 39: Nuñez receives pair of cortisone shots

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will return to camp Thursday, show off their WBC championship medals, and then head to nearby Salt River Fields to take on the Colorado Rockies. It'll be a few more days, however, before the Giants have their full infield on the field. 

Eduardo Nuñez said he actually got two cortisone shots in his right shoulder, since an MRI this week showed “something” in two separate spots. Nuñez asked for the MRI because, while he was able to play and make strong throws, he felt pain on a daily basis. He might DH this weekend, but it'll be a few more days before he's cleared to begin throwing. 

The Giants are hopeful that the shots calm all this down, and Nuñez anticipated being ready for Opening Day. Still, it certainly sounds like this will be a close call. Conor Gillaspie, who is having a huge spring, could get plenty of early time at third. Manager Bruce Bochy doesn't anticipate Nuñez missing Opening Day.

"He should be ready," Bochy said. 

The Giants need all the good injury news they can get. It is expected that Will Smith will announce Friday that he's having Tommy John surgery. 

ICYMI: From this morning, a feature on George Kontos and his rise over the last few years. 

Also, one of the bench candidates, Gordon Beckham, asked for his release. The Giants will soon have to make decisions on Hill and David Hernandez, who have similar retention bonuses due March 28.

GAME RECAP: The Giants played one of their uglier games of the spring, losing 9-2 to King Felix and the Mariners … Matt Moore lasted just 1 2/3 innings, giving up four runs on four hits, two walks, a balk and a wild pitch. It was the same old thing: Moore just all of a sudden lost his command, and because he got up past the 30-pitch mark in the second inning alone, the Giants cut it off. Moore went down to the bullpen and got up to around 80 pitches. He'll make one more start down here, Tuesday against the Cubs ... Joe Panik had a hard double, one of just four hits for the Giants … Chris Marrero hasn’t played a whole lot of left field this spring, and he didn’t show much to the coaches on a couple of opportunities to throw home. The left field situation remains a mystery. 

POSITION BATTLES: Kelby Tomlinson played six innings of left field in a minor league game, and he had to wait until the sixth to get his first and only fly ball. There seemed to be a lot of interest from decision-makers about how Tomlinson fared, and his action today opens up an intriguing possibility. There’s a roster permutation that has the Giants keeping just one reserve outfielder (Gorkys Hernandez) and three backup infielders: Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson, with the latter two being options in left field. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Angel Pagan made it through the WBC healthy, and he apparently is drawing interest from the Phillies and Blue Jays. Giants people are confident Pagan will get a big league job somewhere over the coming week.