Turning two still a major concern for Sanchez

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Turning two still a major concern for Sanchez

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. In a sobering acknowledgment, secondbaseman Freddy Sanchez said his repaired right shoulder would be an ongoingconcern all season.

And the Giants are already making tweaks to their infielddefense to accommodate it.

Ill have my ups and downs, said Sanchez on Thursday,after taking full infield practice including relays and cutoff throws forthe first time this spring. Thats just how its going to be all year. Therewill be tightness and soreness. Thats just part of the process.

The Giants are planning around it. Manager Bruce Bochy saidthe infield would adjust its alignment, shifting shortstop Brandon Crawford tobe the cutoff man on throws not just to left field or center, but also toright-center field.

REWIND: Sanchez ramps up throwing to prepare for return

Bochy also challenged Sanchez to be less tentative when hetakes infield again on Friday.

I was honest with him, Bochy said. I thought he was alittle hesitant, which he appreciated. He knows he wasnt quite 100 percent.But he felt good and he made the pivot, which is (a hurdle) he had to jump.Its like Buster (Posey, and his ankle). Its a matter of going out and doingit, and finding out, Hey, Im OK.

Bochy said itd be nice to start Sanchez at second base inone of Saturdays split-squad games. The manager later hedged that statement,saying he would put it at 5050 whether Sanchez makes his debut in the fieldon that date.

What does Bochy want to see?

The strength, the good, free movement, Bochy said. He wasthrowing, but not like he normally does. I just want to see Freddy (closer) towhere he normally throws. Today, he made the throws. But hell tell you hesnot quite ready.

Sanchez said he did not think he was being overly cautious,but he found Bochys critique constructive.

I was glad he told me that, Sanchez said. When otherpeople see it, its good to hear. Because once that hesitancy is gone, itll bea great sign. The more reps, the better, the easier it will be.

Sanchez disclocated his shoulder while diving for a ground ballon June 10 and had surgery in August to stabilize the capsule. He and theGiants knew all through his rehab that turning the pivot and throwing acrosshis body would be the biggest test in the spring.

For a team built on pitching and defense, Sanchezscompromised shoulder looms as a significant issue.

I need to get more on the ball, he said. Thats going totake time. Ive got to use my legs more than my arm to get something on theball.

Definitely, for the first time taking infield, its goingto take some time to get over the initial feel of it. It was a good start towork on my footwork as I make throws all the way to first.

Would the Giants consider practicing trick plays whenSanchez has to glove a ball up the middle, perhaps flipping to Crawford to makethe throw to first base?

Naw, Bochy said. If we start getting tricky, were introuble here.

But Sanchez said he wouldnt have an problem yielding toCrawford on more cutoff plays.

That can be done easily, Sanchez said.

In the meantime, Sanchez is trying to get his timing back atthe plate. He made his spring debut at DH last Friday and hit in that slotagain Thursday night. He also picked up five at-bats in minor league camp onWednesday, but he isnt squaring up the ball yet.

The long-term concern isnt Sanchezs bat, but his arm.

The more I throw, the stronger I get, he said. But if Itake a real aggressive (day), itll be sore regardless. The last couple daysits been great.

If Sanchez goes down or sustains a setback, the Giants would turn to Mike Fontenot, Ryan Theriot or Emmanuel Burriss. Brett Pill spent time at second base at Triple-A Fresno last season, but is considered a candidate to play there only in emergency situations.

Giants spring training Day 41: Hwang wins award, hits game-winner

Giants spring training Day 41: Hwang wins award, hits game-winner

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jae-Gyun Hwang’s day started with an ovation from teammates who had selected Hwang as the Barney Nugent Award winner. It ended in style, too. 

Hwang’s walk-off single in the ninth gave the Giants an 8-7 win and raised his spring average to .308. Barring an injury or sudden change, Hwang will not make the team out of camp, but he’ll travel to San Francisco for the Bay Bridge Series next week and the Giants expect him back at AT&T Park soon.

“He can keep the award now,” Bochy joked after Hwang’s walk-off. “Good for him. Players love him, and the way he’s come out every day and the effort he puts in. He’s been inspiring with how hard he has gotten after it every day.”

The Barney Nugent Award is given to the player in his first big league camp “whose performance and dedication in Spring Training best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit.” It is meaningful in large part because the voters are teammates, trainers and coaches. Hwang was called to the middle of the clubhouse by trainer Dave Groeschner on Saturday morning to accept the award. 

“With this being my first time coming to spring training to play baseball, I wanted to work hard and show that I belong here,” Hwang said through interpreter Mark Kim. “I think my teammates have noticed how hard I’ve worked for the team.”

The rest of the Giants have also noticed how easy Hwang has made the transition look. He said that, outside of learning a new strike zone, the adjustment hasn’t been a difficult one. He has four homers this spring, but doesn’t necessarily view that as a shining positive. Hwang said he wants to show more of an all-around game, especially on defense, and a stint in Triple-A Sacramento should provide that opportunity. 

If the rosters play out as expected, Hwang should see most of the time at third base in Triple-A. He can also play first, and he’s eager to show that he’s viable in left field. 

“I want to show I’m a versatile player,” he said. 

GAME RECAP: Chris Stratton was having a good spring, but he got knocked around by the Padres early … Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford both hit deep homers in their second game back from the WBC … Mark Melancon still has not allowed a run this spring … Hunter Pence's March slump got a bit deeper with an 0-for-3 ... Bryan Reynolds, last year’s top pick, entered as a pinch-runner and flew home from first on a Gorkys Hernandez double off the wall. 

BULLPEN BATTLES: In the front office’s perfect world, Josh Osich would be the one to take over for Will Smith, giving the team a hard-throwing lefty capable of neutralizing lefties and righties. It’s been an up-and-down spring for Osich, but he was filthy Saturday, striking out a pair in his lone inning. 

George Kontos looked even better in his inning, striking out the side. Kontos has allowed just five hits in 10 innings this spring, with 15 strikeouts. He seems forever stuck in that sixth-seventh range, but given his splits have been just about even over the years, maybe it’s time the Giants see what he can do in a more high-profile role. 

Cory Gearrin followed the previous two with a perfect eighth. Neil Ramirez struck out one and allowed one hit in the ninth. In 9 1/3 innings this spring, Ramirez has struck out 16 and allowed just five hits and two runs. He has a real shot to take someone’s job in the bullpen next week. 

ICYMI: The big news from this morning: Michael Morse will stick with the team and try to rehab/play his way back to the big leagues. And from the early afternoon, Johnny Cueto had a ton of fun with a 19-year-old he faced in a minor league game. 

NOTABLE: Bochy said that all of the players left in camp are slated to head home on the team flight Tuesday, but some guys have opt-outs on March 30, so moves are coming. This would seem a great sign for Aaron Hill, who is due a $100,000 retention bonus on Tuesday. Hill has slumped late in camp, but he’s still in position to make the team. Also noteworthy: Tyler Beede is scheduled to start Saturday’s game in Oakland. The Giants surely want to knock some MLB-stadium-nerves off before Beede heads down to Triple-A to wait for a call-up.

 

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

Cueto toys with young prospect in Giants minor league game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — There is no way to really ramp up the intensity when an All-Star pitcher makes an appearance in minor league camp, so Johnny Cueto instead found a way to have a bit more fun. 

While getting his work in against A-ball hitters, Cueto had a prolonged, smile-filled battle with 19-year-old Jasrado Chisholm, one of the Diamondbacks’ top prospects. The sequence between Cueto and the shortstop from the Bahamas: 

  • Cueto just missed with a two-strike inside fastball, so he went right back to the same spot, freezing Chisholm, who smiled and nodded at Cueto, who laughed back. 
  • The next time up, Chisholm took two vicious hacks, trying to crank a homer onto Hayden Road. He missed both breaking balls by about a foot. 
  •  Before the third pitch, Cueto yelled something at Chisholm and smiled. “I was telling him to keep his eye on the ball,” Cueto said. “Because every time he was swinging, he was taking his eye off the ball.”
  •  The advice worked. Chisholm hung in on the third pitch, lining a single to left-center. Cueto laughed and pointed his glove at the teenager. He promptly picked him off of first base. “He probably doesn’t know I have a quick move,” he said. “I was having fun with a kid who wanted to actually hit against me.”

Nobody has more fun than Cueto, even on a sun-baked minor league field. He capped his day by standing in for an at-bat of his own, and he stood and watched as a young Diamondback struck him out.

The work on the mound was just what was needed: 7 innings, 85 pitches, 10 strikeouts, 0 runs. Cueto, who missed the opening weeks of camp, is ready for the season.

“I feel strong,” he said. “I feel really good."