Urban: Giants-Padres doesn't feel nearly the same

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Urban: Giants-Padres doesn't feel nearly the same

Sept. 14, 2011

URBAN ARCHIVE
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Mychael Urban
CSNBayArea.com

SAN FRANCISCO -- Accuse all you want of spraying stinging agent over the rave, but as in-the-moment exciting as was the Giants' 3-1 victory over the Padres at AT&T Park on Wednesday afternoon, in the not-long-after-the-moment quiet of seagulls brawling over bratwurst buns beneath the bullpen bench, it was all a little bit sad.Maybe sad is the wrong word. Maybe that stings a little too much. Let's try nostalgic on for size. Better? Fine. Wear it. But know that nostalgia, unless it comes in a boxed set of DVDs and was produced by Ken Burns, rarely has a warm-fuzzy feeling attached.

Let's face it, folks. Had this game been played at this time last year, it would have been the kind of game for which you'd steal the tickets out of your neighbor's mailbox after his friend dropped them off and drove away.(And no, that's not the voice of experience speaking. OK, maybe just once. I wanted one of those damn "WE BELIEVE" t-shirts, all right?)Think about it. This game, at this time in 2010? Tim Lincecum, hero, vs. Mat Latos, villain? Top two teams in the National League West, with a season's worth of hard-fought, white-knuckle street fights visible in the frothy wake. Wednesday? Same two pitchers, both still very gifted, but only Lincecum still has that aura of invincibility. Latos has fallen, and he's fallen hard. Something about karma being a female dog.And the teams? Hoo, boy. Not the same teams in virtually any respect. The Padres, with apologies to Denny Green, are who we thought they were. They stink on shards of glass.The Giants? That's a convoluted, hot mess of injuries, expectations and underachievement. But it's not the same team, and no matter how hard the die-hards want to convince themselves otherwise, the defending champs are no longer defending their champs-ness. They're defending their sellout streak, .500 and their pride.Fortunately, they're doing a fine job of it as of late. Lincecum was fantastic in what might have been his 2011 swan song at AT&T Park; Carlos Beltran went deep twice, once into the drink, for career homers 299 and 300; and the Giants' winning streak went to four games for the first time since early July.All fine and well.But the roar that rose from the latest sellout crowd at the end of Wednesday's game was nothing like we heard around these parts last September, and those sounds won't be heard on that level again until next September at the earliest.So by all means enjoy it, Giants fans. Heck of a win. Leaning on nostalgia, however, almost always, eventually, feels like what rains down from those seagulls about an hour or so after the bratwurst-bun battles have been won.

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

Giants spring training Day 44: Marrero caps huge spring with eighth homer

MESA, Ariz. — The Giants went 0-62 last season when trailing after eight innings. Chris Marrero wasn’t around for any of that, but it’s a stat that could help Marrero as he tries to lock up a bench spot. 

The first baseman/left fielder crushed a three-run shot in the ninth inning Tuesday, wiping out a two-run deficit against the Cubs. Marrero also has two walk-off homers this spring. 

“This kid, you see it when he goes up there. He’s got great focus,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It’s intensity and determination. From day one, you could see it in his at-bats. Late in the game, he seems very comfortable. He wants to go up there.”

Tuesday’s homer, which shot out to right-center, was the eighth of the spring for Marrero. That ties him with a guy named Bryce Harper for the MLB lead, and the vast majority of Marrero’s bombs were no-doubters. 

“It’s been a great spring for him,” Bochy said. “The last game here, it seems fitting that he would do something like that. He’s already done it a couple of times. This kid has done all he can. I love his swing and the work that he’s put in.”

With Michael Morse down, Marrero is the best remaining option as a power right-handed bat off the bench, a glaring need a year ago. Justin Ruggiano, another one in the mix, followed Marrero’s shot with one of his own. The homer was Ruggiano’s second of the spring. 

Ruggiano is a better fit defensively in the outfield, but Marrero has been solid at first and Bochy said he’s fine with what he’s seen in left field. “He’s still working on it,” Bochy said, noting that Marrero will play left field during the Bay Bridge Series. 

LEADING OFF: Denard Span saw a wild pitch bounce off the bricks behind home plate, and he never slowed down. Span sped around third in the second inning and slid in ahead of the throw. The notable part of the play wasn’t that a quirky bounce allowed Span to take 180 feet on a wild pitch. It was that his legs did. The 33-year-old has been a different guy in his second spring with the Giants. Last year, Span was coming off hip surgery. This spring, his old game has returned.

“I’ve just been able to do the things I’ve always been able to do,” Span said. “I have more control of my body. I’m stronger. I had a full offseason and a full spring training to get my legs up under me. The last couple of weeks, I’ve felt much better and more confident.”

A healthy and spry Span would be a big boost to a lineup that often looked flat in the second half last season Span showed off every aspect of his game Tuesday. He blasted a leadoff homer on Jake Arrieta’s second pitch, and during their second matchup, he put a perfect bunt down the third base line for a single. Span stole second easily before his race home. 

“He’s playing terrific baseball and he’s been a real inspiration, being our leadoff hitter,” Bochy said. “That’s what we needed — energy at the top of the order.”

TRAINER’S ROOM: Eduardo Nuñez (shoulder) is feeling much better, and Bochy said he’ll play third base during the games at AT&T Park before getting four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. Joe Panik (drilled in the back on Monday) said he’s feeling fine. 

POSITION BATTLES: Here’s the latest on Matt Cain, and here’s an update on Aaron Hill and Jimmy Rollins. 

ICYMI: Big news today from NBC Bay Area. Matt Williams, Javier Lopez and Cody Ross have joined out pre- and post-game shows. You can find stories about those guys on our homepage here. Those shows will also now be an hour long on both ends of the game, adding an extra hour of Giants coverage to your day. Which is good. 

That’s all on the way during the regular season. If you missed any of our spring coverage, you can find a bunch of features here, and podcasts here (spring pods included Mike Morse, Matt Cain, Mac Williamson, Jimmy Rollins and others, with one more coming this week). And in case you’re new to our coverage, the Twitter account is here and the Facebook page is here. Next stop, San Francisco … 

 

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

Giants appear to have decided between Hill or Rollins for roster spot

MESA, Ariz. -- Aaron Hill didn't play in the final Cactus League game, but he didn't need to. By simply being on the flight to San Francisco on Tuesday, Hill got good news. 

The veteran infielder was due a $100,000 bonus on Tuesday, and while the Giants haven't formally announced their roster, you don't pay a man that much money to come play three exhibition games against the A's. Hill appears to have made this club as a second backup infielder, along with Conor Gillaspie. Another veteran, Jimmy Rollins, got the news that the Giants are headed in a different direction. 

Team officials spoke with Rollins this week about their future plans. He was not on the travel roster Tuesday and did not attend the game against the Cubs. 

"We're waiting to hear back from him," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He knows the scenario and the situation. We're waiting to hear back."

Rollins, 38, showed the Giants that he can still handle shortstop defensively, and he was a quick learner when he moved to second. But he hit just .119, falling behind Hill, Kelby Tomlinson and others in the mix for bench spots. It would seem unlikely that Rollins would want to get additional at-bats in Triple-A, but that feeling hadn't been fully conveyed to team officials Tuesday. There was a hope that Rollins, an East Bay native, might join the team for the Bay Bridge Series, which finishes Saturday in Oakland. Rollins grew up an A's fan.

Rollins and Hill were part of a crowded infield group at the start of camp. Gordon Beckham also had a retention bonus and he asked to be released when he was told he wouldn't make the opening day roster. David Hernandez, the third player due a bonus, also was released. He promptly signed with the Atlanta Braves.