Vogelsong, Sanchez expected to start on DL

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Vogelsong, Sanchez expected to start on DL

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Although it had become obvious to everyone from the South Rim to the Mexican border that Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Vogelsong would begin the season on the disabled list, Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged Friday that the organization is leaning in that direction with both players.

Sanchez took infield practice but did not make full throws. He'll finally start at second base in a minor league game either Saturday or Sunday. But he will have the option to not throw to first base on ground balls in the hole, which would cause him to throw across his body and test his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Vogelsong made his first game appearance in minor league camp on Friday and was frustrated that he only was allowed to throw 24 pitches. Bochy confirmed the Giants are looking at skipping his first turn and starting him April 15, when the club needs a fifth starter for the first time.

Thus the opening rotation would be Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Barry Zito. Cain would be lined up to pitch the home opener April 13.

"We're being cautious and he knows that," Bochy said of Vogelsong, who strained his lower back in the weight room in early February. "We'll take this slow. We're not going to push him to get him ready for his first start."

Vogelsong has taken fielding practice but hasn't taken any swings besides bunting. Bochy said the training staff does not want Vogelsong, a fairly good hitter, taking swings yet.

Vogelsong could make a minor league start as a tuneup for April 15, Bochy said.

"We'll make that decision as we see where Vogey's at," the manager said.

As for Sanchez, it's become clear as day that he won't be ready to start the season. Bochy said it was a "strong possibility" that Sanchez would begin on the DL.

"it's kind of day to day with Freddy right now, to be honest," Bochy said.

In other injury news, Buster Posey is expected to catch six innings Friday night and start at first base in Saturday's home split-squad against the Colorado Rockies -- the first time all spring that he'll play defense on consecutive days. Bochy said he didn't have a read on how much Posey could catch this season, and likely wouldn't until April or May.

Aubrey Huff is starting in left field both Friday night and Saturday. Bochy cautioned not to read too much into that, except he wanted to be sure Huff got some action at the position and was comfortable being an option there.

Finally, Brian Wilson will appear in a minor league game Saturday and if all goes well, he'd throw an inning Monday against the Kansas City Royals at Scottsdale.

Here are the lineups for Friday night, and also both squads on Saturday. Subject to change, as always:

Friday vs. Texas at Scottsdale Stadium
CF Angel Pagan
DH Gregor Blanco
C Buster Posey
LF Aubrey Huff
1B Brandon Belt
RF Nate Schierholtz
3B Ryan Theriot
SS Brandon Crawford
2B Emmanuel Burriss
P Madison Bumgarner

(Crawford is feeling better after a dizzy spell a day earlier. Theriot's ankle is improved, as is Burriss's hamstring.)

Saturday vs. Rockies at Scottsdale Stadium
Angel Pagan CF
Melky Cabrera RF
Aubrey Huff LF
Buster Posey 1B
Hector Sanchez C
Mike Fontenot 2B
Brandon Crawford SS
Joaquin Arias 3B
Travis Blackley P (up from minor league camp)

Saturday vs. Reds at Goodyear
Gregor Blanco CF
Emmanuel Burriss SS
Brandon Belt 1B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Nate Schierholtz RF
Ryan Theriot 2B
Eli Whiteside C
Justin Christian LF
Matt Cain P

Giants spring training Day 12: Pence hits early, Marrero crushes walk-off HR

Giants spring training Day 12: Pence hits early, Marrero crushes walk-off HR

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Bruce Bochy thought he might take it slow with Hunter Pence this spring. Pence, of course, had other ideas. 

Pence, who was held back by intercostal soreness during the first week of workouts, insisted on playing the Cactus League opener. He drove in the first Giants run of the new year with a double off the wall in the bottom of the first inning. 

“I just like to be out there Game 1,” Pence said. “It’s a message. It’s good to be out there. I have every intention of being ready to play every game of the season, so getting out there Game 1 is important to me.”

Bochy played plenty of regulars on the first day, but they were long gone when this one was decided in dramatic fashion. Chris Marrero, a non-roster invitee, hit a three-run walk-off homer as the Giants topped the Reds 6-4.

Marrero, 28, was one of the lead targets for a scouting staff that has made a habit of finding non-roster gems. The former first-round pick hit 23 homers for Boston’s Triple-A team and the Giants went after him hard when he became a minor league free agent. Marrero said his agent got a call within the first five minutes. It was an easy decision, in part because of the non-roster history here and in part because Marrero never got a call-up despite minor league success with the Red Sox. 

“If this team wants you, it’s a good thing,” Marrero said of the Giants. 

Marrero plays first base and the outfield, and while there are plenty of longtime big leaguers in camp, he certainly made a statement on the first day. The slider he hit went out to left in a hurry. 

“He’s a right-handed bat with power,” Bochy said. “He threw out good at-bats on the first day. We’re excited he signed with us. He’s going to get some at-bats here.”

THE ACE: Bochy gave Madison Bumgarner the option of skipping this game and making his debut next week, but Bumgarner — who typically doesn’t throw off a mound until he gets to camp — wanted to face hitters. “I thought it’d be good to get out there and get my feet wet,” he said. Bumgarner worked with Nick Hundley, who made some friends the first time out. 

PROSPECT WATCH: Clayton Blackburn delivered a bit of a message with two perfect innings: Don’t forget about me. 

Blackburn has been bumped down the depth chart by Ty Blach and Tyler Beede, but he was sharp while striking out three. “He was right on, wasn’t he?” Bochy said.

Blackburn was a big story last spring, coming off a season where he led the PCL with a 2.85 ERA. He had a 4.36 ERA last season and that led to some offseason changes. Blackburn said he threw off a mound 10-12 times before coming to camp last year, but he limited it to a handful of sessions this year, instead focusing on flat-ground throws into a net.

“You only have so many bullets,” he said, noting there was some fatigue last season. “You can’t waste them all in the offseason.”

Blackburn was called up last season but never got into a game. 

“There’s definitely a lot more hunger,” he said. “It’s always cool to get called up, but it was disappointing not to get in and not see any more time the rest of the year. It’s disappointing, but it’s part of the game.”

With a few more outings like Friday’s, Blackburn will get that second shot. His peripherals were just about the same across the board in 2015 and 2016, with the glaring difference being 12 additional homers in a hitter-friendly league. If he cuts back on the home runs, there’s no reason why Blackburn can’t get back in the mix here. 

NOTEWORTHY: Jimmy Rollins was 1-for-2 in his Giants debut, with a run scored … Wynton Bernard, the speedy outfielder plucked from Detroit’s system, scored on a double and two wild pitches … Jae-gyun Hwang didn’t have the best debut. He struck out twice and stumbled (for an error) on a slow roller to third ... Healthy Joe Panik had two hits in two at-bats ... Orlando Calixte played second and short and Bochy lit up when talking about his versatility. Calixte will see time in the outfield this spring, too. 

FAMILIAR FACES: It was 2010 Day at the ballpark, as Freddy Sanchez, Bengie Molina and Jeremy Affeldt were all on the field during BP. Molina and Affeldt were part of broadcast teams, but Sanchez was here with his under-9 travel ball team. Per Sanchez, the team is the best U9 team in Arizona. 

QUOTABLE: “We feed off each other and I know he feeds off of me. Hunter is a special cat. He’s the most positive person you’ll ever come across, but it’s hard because he plays with the team-first mentality and he puts himself second and sometimes that gets really hard on a person and can weigh a person down. I like to be there with him and bounce things off of him and try to keep him light and energetic. I’m not saying I take anything away from him, but don’t let him carry this big burden. Be that guy for him. He can be Batman, I’ll be Robin.” --- Mike Morse during an interview that airs on my podcast this week. You can stream it online here or download it on iTunes here.

Hundley impresses while working with Bumgarner for first time

Hundley impresses while working with Bumgarner for first time

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Nick Hundley, the Giants’ new backup catcher, has faced only two active pitchers more than 30 times: Clayton Kershaw and Madison Bumgarner. That’s not the easiest way to go through big league life, so Hundley appreciated the opportunity to work with Bumgarner in Friday’s Cactus League opener. 

“I’d much rather catch him than hit him, that’s for sure,” Hundley said, smiling. 

The two lined up together because Buster Posey will work with Matt Cain and Mark Melancon on Saturday. Hundley likely won’t see much time with Bumgarner during the regular season. Posey caught all but 10 of Bumgarner’s innings last year, but Hundley, the veteran backup won’t be out of place if he’s called on. He pleased Bumgarner on Friday by smothering a first-inning curveball in the dirt with a runner on third. 

“That’s a tough pitch to block,” Bumgarner said. “A backdoor curveball and I pulled it a little bit. I’m sure that caught him off guard. I was impressed by it. That was pretty good.”

Hundley similarly impressed another pitcher Friday. Clayton Blackburn said he shook Hundley just once while throwing two perfect innings. The rapport with a prospect he has never played with was no accident. When Hundley signed with the Giants, he asked video coordinator Yo Miyamoto to send him clips of every pitcher on the 40-man roster, as well as prospects.

“I don’t want to come in blind,” Hundley said. “I want to watch and observe and put these guys in the best possible position to succeed.”

Hundley noted that guys like Blackburn are working hard to break through, and they don’t need to be held back by a new catcher. He has been watching video on a team-designed app to continue the learning process. 

“They’ve had so much success for so long (here) that it’s my job to get on the same page with them,” Hundley said. 

Bumgarner felt they were in sync, but the results weren’t perfect the first time out. Bumgarner pitched an inning, giving up two hits and two earned runs. He walked one and hit a batter. 

There was, of course, absolutely no concern. It’s February. He’s Madison Bumgarner. Friday was simply about getting back on a mound. Asked how he felt in his debut, Bumgarner smiled. 

“I felt,” he said.