SAN FRANCISCO – Marco Scutaro’s work day began early, with an extra batting practice session long before most of his teammates took the field Monday.
Scutaro is trying to rediscover his stroke, and along with it those good vibes that marked his three-month joyride last season after the Giants acquired him from Colorado in a mid-summer trade.
The veteran second baseman is 2 for 23 with four strikeouts this season heading into Monday’s series opener against the Rockies. Not a huge sample size to get worked up over, but the slump seems magnified simply because Scutaro was so brilliant during the Giants’ surge to a World Series title late in 2012.
He hit .362 in 61 games after joining the Giants on July 27, and his 88 hits through season’s end were tied with Derek Jeter for most in the majors during that span. He swung and missed at a pitch just 15 times.
Now Scutaro would just take solid contact.
“My timing’s off, my swing’s not there right now,” he told reporters gathered around his locker before the game. “Rhythm, mechanics -- the rhythm is not there. You gotta keep fighting. It’s not a sprint, it’s a marathon.”
Scutaro, 37, admits that a back injury that cropped up during spring training is the root of the trouble. It caused him to alter his mechanics, and he developed some bad habits that he’s trying to shake now.
“I don’t wanna make excuses,” he said. “(But) I was feeling fine at the plate in spring training. After that happened, something was wrong. I felt like I couldn’t stay back and use my hands and my hips. I just (developed) a bad habit. You just gotta go back and start from zero again.
“I’m just kind of jumpy at the plate. I don’t let the ball travel. The good thing is, it’s early. I’ve got time.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he isn’t overly concerned with Scutaro. He talked with Scutaro, and the infielder assured him he feels good enough physically to remain in the lineup.
“If you had a young player, yeah, you’d probably have a little bit more to deal with,” Bochy said. “But not with Marco. He’s not gonna panic. … He wants to fight his way out of it. He’s earned that.”
But Bochy added that Scutaro is likely to sit either Tuesday or Wednesday.
Scutaro had a little reason to smile Monday afternoon before facing his former team in this three-game series. Former Rockies third baseman Vinny Castilla, a special assistant with Colorado who is traveling on this road trip, gave Scutaro one of his baseball gloves. It’s orange in color, so it wouldn’t look out of place if Scutaro were to use it in a game.
He’s trying to break it in.
But his most critical work right now takes place in the batter’s box as he tries to snap his early-season funk.
“What helps is people pretty much know what you can do,” Scutaro said. “That kind of helps a little bit, so they’ll have a little more patience with you.”