Vogelsong criticizes Quentin after loss to Padres

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Vogelsong criticizes Quentin after loss to Padres

SAN DIEGO Brandon Belt had an angry, red bruise just above his right hip.

Ryan Vogelsong was even angrier.

The Giants' intense right-hander was incensed that Belt was hit in what the Giants viewed as a clear retaliatory act in the fourth inning of a 7-1 loss to the San Diego Padres on Sunday.

Vogelsong had hit Carlos Quentin two innings earlier. And after the game, Vogelsong sent a verbal shot whizzing in Quentin's direction.

"The guy hammers balls over the plate and then gets pissed when you throw them inside," Vogelsong said. "Doesn't make sense."

Vogelsong fills up his tank with fury when he pitches.Thats just how he competes. At times, it can spill over. Remember earlier this season against the Reds' Bronson Arroyo, when Vogelsong threw his bat after getting brushed back? Or last year at Florida, when he visibly reacted after recoiling from some chin music?

So it was a bit odd for Vogelsong to say this after a frustrating, abbreviated start at Petco Park: "Every time you hit a guy in this game, they think you did it on purpose. It's tired."

This much was clear: Vogelsong was tired of the Padres fouling off one two-strike pitch after another. He said he wasn't worn down by Everth Cabrera's 13-pitch at-bat to start the game, when the right-hander showed his stubborn streak by throwing all fastballs in a confrontation that finally ended with a strikeout. But the Padres saw it differently.

"It gave us the mometum," Padres first baseman Yonder Alonso said. "We could see Voglesong was frustrated about pitch nine or 10. And then he got mad. Cabby Ks and we're all, `Way to go, good job!' We fed off that."

Said Giants manager Bruce Bochy: "It was foul ball day, it seemed."

It's the reason Vogelsong threw 96 pitches and wasn't able to record an out in the fourth inning. After completing six innings in each of his first 21 starts, he's lasted 2 2/3 and 3-plus in his last two outings.

Neither he nor Bochy see any physical issue, dead-arm phase or drop in stuff as the culprit.

"No, and in fact, he was getting strikeouts," Bochy said. "He just had to work so hard today. He was frustrated. He was making some pretty good pitches and give them credit. They grinded out some good at-bats."

Yet Vogelsong departed with the Giants trailing just 3-1.

As he pointed out, all eight of the Padres' hits against him were singles, including a couple that weren't squared up.

And many more that were turned into souvenirs.

"Once again, I can't control where the ball goes after it leaves my hand," he said. "When it's that many, it starts to get a little frustrating. But that's part of the game. It happens."

Bad starts happen, too. But the Giants will need more of those solid, consistent starts from Vogelsong the rest of the way -- especially since the bullpen gets taxed on days that Barry Zito and Tim Lincecum pitch. So perhaps it's a good thing that Vogelsong is keeping his ornery edge.

Oh, and as for Belt? Bochy said no question the Padres were throwing at him with two outs and the bases empty in the fourth inning. But the affable, unassuming first baseman was no worse for wear.

"Yeah, its kind of a compliment," Belt said. "I think I was just the guy up in that spot. It's baseball. You cant be upset about it. It hurt for a couple minutes and then it was all right."

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."