GLENDALE, Ariz. For all the swatting they did early thisspring, the Giants have completely lost their buzz at the plate.
They look worn down, their bats look leaden and they aretrending the wrong way. All of those things are distressing for a team thatranked last in the NL in runs scored a year ago.
But Giants manager Bruce Bochy isnt terribly alarmed. Hesees a bunch of players who have reached the point of the spring where theyjust want to get out of Dodge. And many of them are banged up, too.
Several received the day off to rest and recuperate andwerent part of the ugliness of a 5-2 loss at Camelback Ranch, when White Soxright-hander Philip Humber one-hit them through seven innings.
Pablo Sandoval was among those who got a breather. Hes beendoing extra conditioning work every morning and Bochy theorized that hes beenworn out by the time games start. He hasnt reached the Giants target weight,but hes close and Bochy said its time to let the Panda focus on getting hisswing locked in. His right-handed at-bats, in particular, havent been pretty.He is way out in front of everything.
Brandon Belt also has been grinding hard. He slid on gravela few weeks ago and has remained playable, but sliding hasnt been too muchfun. He aggravated his hip and thigh on another slide Saturday.
Ryan Theriot (ankle) and Emmanuel Burriss (hamstring) alsoremain day-to-day, but both should be OK to play Monday.
There was a very interesting end to what otherwise was anuneventful exhibition.
The Giants got the tying run to the plate with one out inthe ninth inning, so Bochy called back Conor Gillaspie and sent up catcherHector Sanchez as a pinch hitter. The White Sox had a lefty on the mound andBochy wanted to do more than get a right-handed matchup to try to win the game.
BAGGARLY: StewartWhiteside competition will go down to the wire
He wanted Sanchez to hit right-handed in a clutch spot. Are you readingthose tea leaves? It sure seems like the Giants are warming to the possibilityof carrying the scorching-hot Sanchez as a bat off the bench at least tostart the season.
We wanted to take a look at it with a lefty out there,Bochy said. Its something he hasnt done a lot, Im sure. So its a goodexperience to get him an at-bat there.
The White Sox left-hander was a kid named Hector Santiago, and he wasbringing it. Mark Gonzales of the Chicago Tribune (and a former Giants beatwriter for the Mercury News, by the way) told me that Santiago has been thetalk of camp.
The Hector-Hector matchup didnt go the Giants way. Sanchezgrounded into a double play to end the game.
A reminder: Ryan Vogelsong will start Monday and throw 40pitches against the Kansas City Royals at Scottsdale Stadium. Brian Wilson ison the schedule to throw an inning, too.
Giants GM Brian Sabean made a two-inning guest appearance onKNBR with Dave Flemming the other day. During that stint, Sabean mentioned thatthe club might need another starting pitcher not Vogelsong to take the ballwhen the Giants need a No.5 guy on April 15. So perhaps they are not confidentthat Vogelsong could be sufficiently stretched out in time.
Eric Surkamp would be the logical choice, Id imagine. Butitll depend on how Vogelsong looks as he builds his pitch count.
I've mentioned right-hander Dan Otero's fabulous, strike-filled spring and how he might be one of the first call-ups when the Giants need another relief arm. Well, Bochy said today that hard-throwing prospect Heath Hembree would begin the season at Triple-A Fresno and serve as the Grizzlies' closer. Otero closed for Fresno last season and would be one heck of a setup man.
That Grizzlies bullpen is going to be darn good.
Nate Schierholtz needs to catch a hot streak to getmanagement to buy into the idea of committing to him as an everyday player. Hedid not help himself Sunday, when he was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.
In case Barry Zitos rough outing has you wondering Jonathan Sanchez is not having a good spring, either. In three starts for theRoyals, he has a 9.72 ERA. Here are the rest of his numbers: 8.1 innings, 13hits, 11 runs, nine earned runs, five walks, eight strikeouts, a .351opponents average and a 2.16 WHIP.
BAGGARLY: ChiSox hammer Zito, but rotation spot is safe
Given how Melky Cabrera looks this spring, the Giants' trade could turn out to be baseball's best deal of the offseason.
Right-hander Scott Munter, who is up from minor league camp, replacedZito in the third inning and was charged with cleaning up the mess. But the big Nebraskan with the bowling ball sinkeronly faced one batter. He strained his calf while jumping off the mound tocover first base. Its been a long road back for Munter, who established himself as a bullpenmainstay in 2005 but had an elbow scope after that season and hasn't been the same. He hasnt pitched in the big leagues since 07. Hopefully forhim this calf injury isnt a major setback.
I didnt follow enough college basketball to feel good aboutfilling out an informed bracket. The only games I watched involved my almamater, Northwestern. So I decided my only chance in the NCAA pool would be to go rogue. I had Baylor winning it all, using the RBTSOON method (really beatthe snot out of Northwestern).
Now Im wishing Northwestern had played Kentucky thisseason.