Theriot breaks down Cueto; Blanco to call Melky

907337.jpg

Theriot breaks down Cueto; Blanco to call Melky

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants cued up plenty of video onright-hander Johnny Cueto, who takes the mound Saturday night in Game 1 of theNLDS at AT&T Park.

That isn't their only source of information, though. In fact, the player whohas faced Cueto more than any other major league hitter has a locker in the middle of the Giants clubhouse.

Ryan Theriot wont be in the Giants' starting lineup for Game 1. Not even JoeMorgan would start at second base right now over Marco Scutaro, who has a .436average over his 20-game hitting streak.

NEWS: Game 1 lineups

But Theriot is a .302 hitter in 43 career at-bats against Cueto, and he isdoing his best to let teammates know what to expect from the Reds 19-gamewinner.

Well, for one, he stops the running game, Theriot said.Hes got a good move. And hes one of those guys who throws right-on-rightchangeups. So that makes him tough. Hes one of those guys if you get a pitchto hit, youd better hit it. Because you probably wont get it again.

You cant try to do too much. You really cant.

Theriot has a homer and two doubles among his 13 hitsagainst Cueto. The only other Giant with more than 10 at-bats against him isHunter Pence, who is a .276 hitter (8-for-29) with 11 strikeouts.

But Pence isnt putting much stock into those numbers.

Thats because I havent faced him in two years and whathes doing now is a lot different, Pence said. He added a hitch, a timingthing. Ive been looking at it on video. Last time I saw him, he was throwing95 with a slider. That changeup is something hes added. At least, I haventseen it.

Pence watched video of hits off Cueto, to see what pitchesthey came on and where they went. The pitcher gave up his share while postingan 8.22 ERA over three consecutive losses in early September, but ended theseason with three cleaner outings.

Theriot remembers a pitcher who keeps the ball off the barrelwith a late-moving fastball.

When he throws his fastball down and away, itll stayaway, Theriot said. Hes got that run to it. I dont think he tries to do it.Thats just how it moves. And his sinker, he can run in on your hands.

Hes a little more susceptible to left-handed hitters, whobatted 59 points higher (.279). So hell be keying on switch hitters AngelPagan and Pablo Sandoval. First baseman Brandon Belt looms as another X-factor.

Right or left, Cueto isnt afraid to throw any pitch at anytime.

Most pitchers you can try to game-plan and look forpatterns, Theriot said. With a guy like him, youre almost better offpatterning the catcher. He doesnt repeat pitches too often.

Pence said he might check out some of those Theriot-Cuetoconfrontations on video.

You cant go dead red on Theriot, Pence said, smiling.Hell take you deep.

--
Gregor Blanco already saved Matt Cains perfect game withone of baseballs most outstanding catches of 2012. Now he hopes to be an assetagain as he starts in left field behind Cain in Game 1 of the NL DivisionSeries.

Hes worked real hard for everything hes gotten and hedefinitely deserves it, Cain said. Its definitely good to have him in theoutfield running stuff down for us.

Its like running down a dream for Blanco, who was a non-rosterinvitee this spring after playing for the Washington Nationals Triple-A clublast season.

I never thought I was even going to make this team, Blancosaid. Now, this feels great. I thank the Giants so much for giving me thisopportunity and this experience. It gives me a lot of confidence to go out andsupport my teammates.

Blanco planned to lend support to one former teammate,suspended outfielder Melky Cabrera, who is eligible to return should the Giantsadvance beyond a fifth game this postseason. The club already has declared thatCabrera will not rejoin the roster.

Cabrera hasnt spoken to most of his teammates following hisAug. 15 suspension for testing positive for testosterone.

Blanco said he knew Cabrera would be watching Game 1, though. He planned tocall him before the first pitch Saturday.

Im going to try to get in touch with him, Blanco said.

--
The Giants had an uplifting experience before their flighttook off from Los Angeles Wednesday night. Prior to boarding their charter, theteam was allowed to take pictures of Space Shuttle Endeavour as it sat parked inan adjacent hangar at LAX.

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.