What to do about Brett Pill?


What to do about Brett Pill?

Brett Pill doesn't have anything left to prove in the minors. He's raked at every level, and he's been raking in the big leagues since being called up earlier this month.His 3-for-5 night Wednesday in a huge win against the rival Dodgers highlighted his clean and controlled stroke, raising his batting average through eight games with the Giants to .333 with two doubles, two triples, two homers and eight RBIs, giving him an eye-popping slugging percentage of .733 and an equally impressive OPS of 1.067.So what do you do with him next year? It's a question the club will have to think long and hard about over the winter.

Pill, you see, is a first baseman by trade. But so is Aubrey Huff, whom Giants manager Bruce Bochy recently said will be his first baseman in 2012, when Huff is again going to be pulling down 11 million in salary.And so is Brandon Belt, who made the Opening Day roster with an impressive showing at spring training that came on the heels of a ridiculously productive 2010 season, in which Belt ripped through the minors like he had a deadline to meet.Huff, by the way, could be in the mix through the 2013 season, too. The Giants have a club option on him for a cool 10 million. But unless he lives up to his recent career pattern of good season-bad season-good season, hello 2 million option buyout.It's been assumed since Belt burst onto the scene that he'll eventually replace Huff at first base, and given how badly Huff has struggled in 2011, more than a few folks would like to see that happen sooner rather than later.Yet Belt hasn't exactly been a man on fire this year himself -- unless you count his numbers at Triple-A Fresno, to which he was banished three times. During his time this season with the Grizzlies, Belt batted .309 with a .448 on-base percentage and a .975 OPS with eight homers and 32 RBIs over 49 games.Pill, meanwhile, batted .312 with a .341 OBP, .871 OBP, 25 homers and 107 RBIs over 133 games at Fresno. And suddenly it is Pill for whom Giants fans are pining, in part because Belt's numbers with the Giants have been pedestrian.Granted, Belt's stats for San Francisco -- .212 BA, .701 OPS, eight homers and 16 RBIs over 56 games -- could be the product of being a human yo-yo, and missing considerable time with a broken wrist didn't help, but this is a what-have-you-done-for-me-lately business, and Pill has done more for Giants fans lately.So let's re-phrase the question: What do you do not just with Pill next year, but with Huff penciled in by Bochy as the starting first baseman, what do you do with Pill and Belt?Well, Belt can play in the outfield. He's far better at first base, where he's got Gold Glove ability, but he could handle left field with an offseason and next spring to prepare.Pill, though, despite having spent some time at second base in Fresno, isn't cut from any sort of legitimate middle-infield cloth. He's 6-foot-4 with average lateral range. Besides, the Giants have Freddy Sanchez (they hope) and Jeff Keppinger (under club control via arbitration) to man second base.Seems like a trade is in order. But which guy do you trade? Belt is 23 and has more upside, so his trade value is likely highest, but he's also a highly popular player and could very well blossom into the power-hitting first baseman for which the Giants have been searching for years.Pill, on the other hand, is 27. How much upside is there? He might not fetch much in return. And hey, if Belt can transition into the outfield, what would be so wrong with Pill serving as Huff's backup for 2012 and taking over at first in 2013?As for trading Huff ... yeah, right. Not after the season he's put together this year. Not with that salary looming.So again, the big question, and this time it's posed directly to Giants fans: What do you do?

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the first time, Gorkys Hernandez did not go back to Venezuela in the offseason to play winter ball. He's hoping that leads to another first. 

Hernandez has never made an opening day roster, but after breaking into the Giants’ outfield rotation last season, he entered the winter in a decent shot. To bolster his case, Hernandez stayed in Scottsdale over the offseason to work out at the minor league facility. The added strength didn’t lead to any notable results over the first month of games, but Hernandez broke through Monday with three doubles in the final home game of the spring.

“Sometimes (slumps) happen and sometimes you’re late (on pitches) and you don’t feel comfortable at the plate, but now I feel different. I feel better,” Hernandez said. “I’m recognizing pitches and trying to keep it simple and not do too much.”

The coaching staff has asked several players to head down to the minor league facility late in the spring and get additional at-bats, and Hernandez took Bruce Bochy up on the offer. He twice played in minor league games, and on Sunday he rotated into different games so he could get six at-bats. Hernandez said that helped him find his timing. 

“Without question, it helped his timing,” Bochy said. “He was off. He was getting out front, his timing was off. I think the at-bats he got paid off.”

The three-double day was perfectly timed. Hernandez entered with a .159 average and Justin Ruggiano, the other option as a backup center fielder, had started to put together better at-bats. Monday’s game was a reminder in more ways than one. Hernandez showed off the type of speed the Giants won’t have on the bench if Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, and he played all three outfield positions, switching from left to right to center. 

The role in play is one Gregor Blanco had for five seasons. The Giants would like Hernandez to be their defensive whiz at every outfield spot, and they’re light on true center fielders. If the Giants put Hernandez on the roster this week as expected, he’ll be ready to try and be the new Blanco. 

“If they give me that role, I’ll try to do the same thing,” he said. “Or better.”

THE ACE: Madison Bumgarner is going to Madison Bumgarner. He threw seven sharp innings Monday, lowering his spring ERA to 2.52. In 25 innings, he has allowed just 17 hits and struck out 23. Bochy appreciated Bumgarner’s intensity Monday against a Reds team that was filled with minor leaguers. 

“That’s what makes him so good,” Bochy said. “He takes every outing seriously. His preparation doesn’t waver.”

Bumgarner even added a single, and he liked that it came on a breaking ball. He’s worked on getting better at hitting those pitches, which he’s seeing more and more. 

“I feel I’m as ready as I can be to start the season,” Bumgarner said. 

His next pitch will be thrown Sunday at Chase Field. 

GAME RECAP: The Giants blasted poor Reds starter Cody Reed, hanging 10 runs on his line in 3 2/3 innings. Denard Span had two hits and Aaron Hill had three, driving in three runs. Bochy went with an interesting lineup, leading off with Span, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. He said he likes Crawford in that five-spot. He also plans to hit the pitcher eighth on occasion.

TRAINER’S ROOM: Joe Panik was drilled by a fastball in the lower back and he came out of the game as a precaution. Panik has a nasty welt, so he’s in for a night of ice, but there are no concerns. 

QUOTABLE: Posey turned 30 today. As he walked out to stretch, Bumgarner was asked if he was giving Posey a hard time. “No, he’s been 30 for the last seven years,” Bumgarner said.