Morse out at least two weeks; Giants hopeful he keeps playing

Morse out at least two weeks; Giants hopeful he keeps playing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Michael Morse came to camp last month with two options in mind: Make the opening day roster or go home and settle into retirement. With a week left in the desert, Morse is all of a sudden left with a third choice. 

Morse injured his left hamstring during Monday’s game in Glendale and he’s expected to miss at least two weeks. At some point after he celebrates his 35th birthday Wednesday, Morse will have to decide if he wants to rehab and potentially head down to Triple-A to get ready to try and join the Giants.

“I don’t know … I don’t want to think about that yet,” Morse said. “If it gets to that point, I’ll think about it, but right now it’s (about) how I feel every day. I don’t want to get ahead of myself.”

Manager Bruce Bochy is hopeful that Morse decides to play this out. 

“It’s going to be a little while for him,” Bochy said. “It’s hard to say exactly how long, but two weeks minimum. It’s really too bad for him. He was doing all he needed to do to make the club. It’s a shame.

“I think, not just the way he was swinging the bat, but he was playing a good first base and I put him in the outfield. I think he was moving around well. He came into camp in tremendous shape. That should show him he still has some baseball left. Good baseball.”

Morse has three homers this spring and he was coming on in the days before he got hurt. On Monday morning, a few hours before the game against the White Sox, a member of the staff said that -- barring an injury or unexpected breakthrough elsewhere  -- Morse would open the year with the club. While he was sprinting out of the box later that day, Morse felt tightness. An MRI showed enough damage to sideline him the rest of spring training.

The timing is brutal, but if Morse rehabs and then goes to Triple-A Sacramento to get at-bats, he would still be in a solid spot. The Giants like his presence, and not just on the field. 

“Hopefully we get him back pretty quickly,” Madison Bumgarner said. “We definitely enjoy having him around. He’s definitely a big contributor.”

Morse has had a smile glued to his face throughout 37 days at Scottsdale Stadium. Even Tuesday, a day after a sprint out of the box cost him dearly, he was a boisterous presence in the clubhouse. He took the bad news in stride. 

“I came in knowing I’d either do really bad or really good,” he said. “I thought I played pretty good. It just sucks that I had to get hurt. I don’t think this is something that’ll stop me from getting a shot at playing. I always thought I wasn’t done. I always thought I could keep playing, I’ve just been dealt a couple of bad cards the last couple of years. 

“I proved to myself that I can still play,” he added, smiling, “And I proved to myself yesterday that I’m not really a fast runner.”

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — During his season managing Barry Bonds, Bruce Bochy watched the slugger get intentionally walked 43 times. 

“There were (managers) who had the (signal) up before he even got to the batter’s box,” Bochy said Wednesday. 

That’s part of the reason Bochy is completely on board with a new rule stating that managers only have to signal for an intentional walk. The elimination of the four pitches has been approved by MLB and the MLBPA, with the caveat that a manager can change his mind in the middle of the plate appearance. 

“I’m fine with it,” Bochy said. “I know a few pitchers are happy because they kind of have a thing about throwing (those pitches), not on our team, but last year it happened to us and we didn’t go. I’m fine with it.”

It’s rare that an intentional ball would go to the backstop, but the Giants experienced it last year against the Yankees. Dellin Betances threw wide as he tried to put Brandon Crawford on and Angel Pagan didn’t react quickly enough to score from third. 

Bochy met with league officials last week to go over some of the new rules and ideas, and he said he wants MLB to keep pushing to cut the time of games. 

“We talk about it so much but we really haven’t done a lot,” Bochy said. “I’m all for (limiting mound visits). I’m all for it, I am. It’s gotten more and more popular in the game. It used to be the catcher, and now it’s the catcher and infielders, and they go to the mound and come back and then the pitching coach goes out there.”

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE: Bochy said Madison Bumgarner is currently slated to start Friday’s Cactus League opener, with Matt Cain also throwing an inning. Ty Blach will start Saturday, Matt Moore and Tyler Beede will pitch Sunday, and Jeff Samardzija will start Monday. It’s possible that 18 or 20 different pitchers will take the mound over the first two days since almost all of them will be scheduled for just three outs. With the exception of Will Smith, every projected Giant should see the field this weekend. Hunter Pence is the only guy who has been held back at all, but his intercostal issue has cleared up. Pence put several on the left-field berm during BP on Wednesday.

“Hunter wants to (play Friday). He's ready to go,” Bochy said. “I’ll make that call tomorrow once I talk to the staff, but Hunter assured me he’s a full go with no limitations, and he really wants to play.”

PROSPECT WATCH: Bochy took the van over to the minor league facility to watch some of the projected Triple-A players take part in live BP. Jae-gyun Hwang hit a homer off Jose Dominguez during his session. 

“He’s a guy that rotates (well) and he’s got good power,” Bochy said. “He can go the other way. He’s got some bat control. He’s got a nice swing.”

Over on the main field, Gorkys Hernandez hit an impressive homer to left-center. 

ICYMI: From this morning, Smith is being held out of workouts. Reporters spoke to him in the afternoon and he said there’s no concern. Also, here’s a podcast with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Subscribe on iTunes if you haven’t … there’s a very popular Giant coming soon.

QUOTABLE: Smith missed time last season because he tore a knee ligament while taking his shoe off, so this spring’s speed bump is somewhat easier to take. He had a message for the trainers: “I said I’m going to sit down every day this spring,” when I take my shoes off.

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

Johnny Cueto hopes to join Giants camp this weekend

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants have been watching high-quality clips of Johnny Cueto all spring, even though the co-ace has remained in the Dominican Republic. On Monday, manager Bruce Bochy finally managed to get face-to-face with Cueto. Kind of. 

Cueto spoke to Bochy, trainer Dave Groeschner and others via FaceTime, and all involved finally managed to hammer out a schedule for Cueto’s arrival. Cueto has been in the Dominican Republic tending to his ill father, Domingo, but he is expected to arrive in Scottsdale this weekend. Cueto is working to secure a visa for his father, who will travel with him.

Bochy wanted to have a long discussion with Cueto to get a sense of how ready he’ll be for the World Baseball Classic. Cueto’s participation is still up in the air, and not just because he has missed the first week of camp. There is a chance, Bochy said, that Cueto will choose to stay in Scottsdale to continue taking care of his father. The Dominican Republic opens play in Miami on March 9.

“He said he knows he’s got to make a decision real soon regarding what he does,” Bochy said. “Pitching or not pitching, he’s got to let them know as soon as possible.”

Cueto has been throwing to hitters at a facility in Boca Chica. He threw a 45-pitch bullpen session on Tuesday.