SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – It was no coincidence that Cole Gillespie and Francisco Peguero started in the outfield corners for the Giants’ home split squad against Milwaukee on Wednesday.
For one, Giants manager Bruce Bochy was staying here and he wanted to evaluate both players. For another, the Brewers were starting left-hander Chris Narveson, and the ability to hit lefties will go a long way to decide who gets the No. 5 outfield spot, assuming the Giants still plan to carry one.
“It was good to see both of them,” Bochy said. “Nothing’s been determined, but every game is important and I think they know it.”
The game ended in a scoreless tie after 10 innings, and both Peguero and Gillespie had a chance to win it. The Giants loaded the bases with no outs after Joaquin Arias and Johnny Monell singled, and Belt drew a walk.
Peguero hit a first-pitch slider hard, but it was a grounder right to the shortstop, who started a 6-2-3 double play. Gillespie was next and drew a walk, and then minor league infielder Juan Ciriaco struck out to end it.
(It was kind of funny that Guillermo Quiroz stood in the on-deck circle swinging a bat while Ciriaco was at the plate, even though there was no conceivable way the game could possibly last another hitter.)
We asked Bochy: Did you have a problem that Peguero, a free swinger in the Sandovallian mode, went after the first pitch?
“He’s an aggressive hitter,” Bochy said. “Is it good situational hitting? No. But these guys have got to be who they are. He hit it hard, just on the ground and right at ‘em. Hopefully they get better. You become a good player by learning there. He got a good pitch to handle, so you want ‘em swinging. He just hit it on the ground.”
Earlier in the game, Peguero managed to scoop out a pretty good pitch from Narveson and dump it into left field for a single. It was the first baserunner for the Giants after Narveson had retired the first 14 hitters he faced.
As Bochy said, no decisions have been made about that backup outfield spot, or even if one will exist. (Brandon Belt was told on Wednesday that he’ll get a look in left field soon.)
But here’s one thought: The better Andres Torres and Gregor Blanco look in a left field platoon, the more likely that extra outfielder will be Gillespie, who is seen as more of a supplemental player. The more the Giants are troubled by what they have in left, the more likely it’d be that Peguero would break with the team, and perhaps get a chance to worm his way into that left field mix.
The Giants don’t want to carry a young player like Peguero if he’s hardly going to play at all.
Over the last couple days, Torres and Blanco have had much better plate appearances. And I think that works in Gillespie’s favor.
The Giants are looking outside the organization for middle infield help, and Bochy appeared very interested to hear that the Marlins released Chone Figgins. He said Figgins played for the All-Star team he managed that barnstormed Japan a few years ago -- and played well, too. (It's been a good long while since he was the same player, though.)
Bochy asked what kind of spring Figgins was having. Well, here's a partial answer: the switch hitter had a .308 average.
Buster Posey and the Giants are talking about an extension, as I reported a couple weeks ago and my pal Jon Heyman wrote today while adding a few more details. The next contract could take any shape, from a three-year deal to buy out Posey's arbitration years to a longer pact that could go to 2020 or beyond. Joey Votto and Albert Pujols got 10 years, after all.
Here are two things that I guarantee Posey's agent, Jeff Berry, knows very well: 1) The Giants are done paying deferred money to Barry Bonds and 2) they will be finished paying the debt service on AT&T Park in 2017.
A deal like this doesn't get done over a game of "Buster Bash." It'll take time. And this situation is different from the Matt Cain extension last spring. Cain would've become a free agent after last season, so there was a huge sense of urgency. Posey remains under club control for three more years after this one.
Still, I think the chances are a little better than fair that Posey and the Giants will come to some kind of agreement on a longer term deal before opening day. The only truly important details is whether they can begin to lock up some of Posey's free-agent years.
So the pertinent question is this: If Posey would be amenable to a 10-year, $200 million contract, would the Giants want to dance to that tune?
Javier Lopez struck out two in a 1-2-3 inning that might have helped save a bit of sanity. The left-hander entered the day with a 14.54 ERA.
Brandon Crawford is really coming along with the bat. He had three hits including a double in the other squad’s 6-4 victory over the Padres at Peoria.
Crawford also played at Peoria Tuesday night. I told him he should’ve just checked into the La Quinta Inn next to the ballpark. He said he thought about it.
Blanco, who told us earlier in the morning that he was finally getting comfortable after he stopped experimenting with a lower-half load in his swing, went out and had another good game. He collected two hits in three at-bats.
Heath Hembree saved the win over San Diego with a scoreless ninth inning that included a walk and a strikeout.
Kensuke Tanaka’s throwing issues have gone into full-blown Knoblauch mode. In the 10th inning, Tanaka fielded a chopper and had plenty of time to throw the ball 40 feet. It sailed so far high and wide that first baseman Brandon Belt didn’t even bother to move.
I'm not sure Tanaka will be in this camp much longer.
Jose Mijares faced hitters for the first time since he was diagnosed with a left elbow impingement. He looked OK and didn’t appear to be in any obvious discomfort.
The bad news: he gave up his share of hard contact. The good news: Hector Sanchez was the one making it. Sanchez, whose shoulder remains a bit too tender to throw or hit lefty, had a good looking stroke going from the right side.
Sanchez was scheduled to play catch and if all goes well, he’ll start doing more vigorous throwing (perhaps even get back into a game) by the end of the week.
The player making the quickest recovery in camp is Brett Pill, who is just six days removed from knee surgery and yet already is lobbying to take some swings.
“It’s amazing how he’s getting around,” Bochy said. “We’re six days from surgery and he’s ready before (Tony) Abreu.”
Yes, Tony Abreu remains in limbo with his knee issue. He’s played in one game all spring. And if you interpreted the manager’s comments as a little bit of a shot, well … you’re not alone.
Angel Pagan, Santiago Casilla and hitting coach Hensley “Bam Bam” Meulens are expected back in camp Thursday after their experience in the World Baseball Classic.
Bochy wasn’t sure if he’d put Pagan in the lineup right away for the night game against the Rockies. If Pagan says he’s ready to go, you can bet he’ll be in there.
Infielder Brock Bond left Wednesday’s game at Peoria in the fourth inning with an abdominal strain, the Giants said.
Bond was hitting .435 in limited action and already had been reassigned to minor league camp. The injury comes at a bad time. Perhaps a week or two earlier and he’d have been ready to start the season with Triple-A Fresno. But if this is a fairly standard strain, he’ll be out until mid-April.
Bond has one heck of a story and has overcome a ton to reach the stage he’s at now. But he’ll have to hit the cover off the ball at Triple-A if he wants to position himself for a potential call-up. The first step, as always, is to be healthy.
Keep an eye on Mac Williamson, the slugger from Wake Forest that the Giants took in the third round last year. He had a terrific debut in short-season ball, was on fire in instructional league and has carried it into the spring. Williamson hit three homers in a minor league intrasquad game, and in his first Cactus League action, he contributed an RBI single at Peoria.
I’ve heard the Giants have Williamson working out with the Double-A group, which would be quite a jump for him. It was expected that he’d start at San Jose.
Ricky Oropesa has shown some encouraging flashes this season and he should be the starting first baseman at Double-A Richmond. He hit an RBI triple in the game at Peoria.
Earlier in the day, this former San Bernardino County Sun reporter had the pleasure to introduce Oropesa (Etiwanda HS) to former Royals All-Star Mike Sweeney (Ontario HS) during batting practice. Sweeney is involved with Catholic ministries and was in town to catch a few games with his son, Michael. You won’t find a nicer person in baseball.
Now I’m off to the movie theater, for a special media screening of “42” a few weeks before it opens to the public. I can’t wait for the scene when Branch Rickey, played by Harrison Ford, has to outrun a giant boulder.