EXTRAS: Pill gets third chance


EXTRAS: Pill gets third chance

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. The Giants consider Brett Pill a part of themix at first base along with Aubrey Huff and Brandon Belt. But youll findseveral more fielding gloves in Pills locker, and all of them will get a fairamount of use this spring.

Pill took some ground balls at third base during Tuesdaysworkout and also will get tested at second base and left field, Giants managerBruce Bochy said. Its all part of the plan to make Pill as versatile aspossible.

Well move him around, Bochy said. Hes got a window inthe workout where he can take some ground balls.

Pill has appeared at third base in just six career games inthe minor leagues and received six total chances. In his only chance lastseason, at Triple-A Fresno, he made an error.

Pill wasnt a dynamo at second base when he saw time therefor the Grizzlies last season, either. The Giants tried that experiment becausethey wanted to keep Pills bat in the lineup after first baseman Brandon Beltwas optioned to Fresno. But even if Pill was no better than serviceable at secondbase, he made an impression on management by showing no hesitation aboutlearning a new position. He shows up every day ready to punch the clock, with not a peep of a complaint.

If Pill makes the Giants opening-day roster, barring injuries to others, itll be as aright-handed pinch hitter and reserve player. Club officials believe that Pillcould be an asset in a bench role because his right-handed swing is simple andrepeatable. It doesnt rely on any complicated weight shifts or timingmechanisms. So he wouldnt gather rust as easily as someone like Belt, whoneeds to play every day to stay sharp.

Theres one more reason to give Pill some work at thirdbase: The Giants dont have a plethora of backup options to Pablo Sandoval.Bochy mentioned Ryan Theriot as a candidate to get innings there. EmmanuelBurriss is expected to play third base as part of his projected utility role,too.

Here are some other quick updates from Day 10 in Scottsdale:

--Freddy Sanchez (right shoulder surgery) still isntparticipating in workouts with the rest of the team. He was held out Mondaybecause his back flared up, Bochy said. Sanchez was improved enough to taketwo dozen ground balls and play catch Tuesday. But theres still no timetable for Sanchezto begin making throws to bases or participate fully in workouts; the best-casescenario calls for him to appear as a designated hitter after the first week ofexhibition games.

--Ryan Vogelsong (lower back strain) played catch for thesecond consecutive day and continues to make progress, Bochy said. He wasexcited to get his spikes on, the manager said. The hope is that Vogelsong canbegin throwing off a mound in another week. Although Vogelsong appears to bemoving past his back injury, any further setbacks would endanger his ability toopen the season as the No.4 starter.

--Matt Cain has a nice, fat welt just below his left kneefrom where Hector Sanchezs line drive pelted him on Sunday. But he took histurn throwing live batting practice on Tuesday with no issues, Bochy said.Jeremy Affeldt also threw to hitters, and managed not to tickle anyones ribcage this time.

--Prospect Heath Hembree throws hard and doesnt always knowwhere its going. "Now they know how Robb Nen used to throw, yelled outspecial assistant Shawon Dunston.

--Great observation by beat colleague Alex Pavlovic of BayArea News Group: At 22 years old, Madison Bumgarner is the youngest pitcher onthe roster. Not only that, he still ranks as the youngest pitcher in camp.Amazing.

--Buster Posey's last big league at-bat was so long ago, it came against a guy who no longer exists. Posey hit a single in the ninth inning May 25 against Florida Marlins closer Leo Nunez. The world found out in September that Nunez's real name is Juan Carlos Oviedo and he's had a few more slices of birthday cake than he was letting on. Impressively, the good folks at baseball-reference.com already updated all the box scores, replacing references to Nunez with Oviedo. Names have been changed to protect the not-so-innocent, I suppose.

--It wouldnt be spring training in Scottsdale withoutWillie Mays and Mike Murphy sitting at the same circular clubhouse table,shooting the breeze. Its always neat to see a new crop of rookies stare in aweas they walk past with their equipment bags.

Most are too shy to say anything. Not top center fieldprospect Gary Brown, though.

Hi Willie, how are ya? said Brown, as he rushed through the clubhouse.

Cubs homer twice in win over Dodgers; tie NLCS 2-2


Cubs homer twice in win over Dodgers; tie NLCS 2-2


LOS ANGELES -- Anthony Rizzo, Addison Russell and the rest of the Chicago Cubs' bats broke out in a big way.

Rizzo homered and ended a postseason slump with three RBIs, Russell's two-run drive highlighted a four-run fourth that stopped Chicago's 21-inning scoreless streak, and the Cubs routed the Los Angeles Dodgers 10-2 on Wednesday to even the NL Championship Series at 2-all.

Kenta Maeda is set to pitch for the Dodgers in Game 5 on Thursday against Jon Lester. Before the game, manager Dave Roberts said he will not start Clayton Kershaw on short rest after the Los Angeles ace threw a bullpen session Wednesday.

Chicago ensured the NLCS will return to Wrigley Field for Game 6 Saturday.

To break out of his prolonged slump, Rizzo used teammate Matt Szczur's bat.

"I know Szczur's bat has a lot of hits in it," Rizzo said. "I've done it a few times this year, just switching up the bat, switching up the mindset."

Following consecutive shutout losses, the Cubs rapped out 13 hits on an 80-degree night with the warm Santa Ana winds fluttering the flags in center field.

Rizzo and Russell had three hits each. Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters - a combined 2 for 32 in the first three games - busted out. Every Cubs starter got at least one hit except Kris Bryant, who walked twice.

"Today was a must-win for us," Ben Zobrist said.

Los Angeles was limited to six hits and made four errors in a game that dragged on for 3 hours, 58 minutes.

Mike Montgomery won in relief of John Lackey, who was chased after consecutive walks opening the fifth. Four days shy of his 38th birthday, Lackey allowed two runs, three hits and three walks.

Julio Urias, at 20 years, 68 days the youngest postseason starting pitcher in major league history, gave up four runs and four hits in 3 2/3 innings. He was the third consecutive left-hander to start the series for Los Angeles.

Chicago rattled off three straight hits to open the fourth, sparked by Zobrist's leadoff bunt single to third.

"With the way that our bats were swinging it at the beginning of the game, we just had to do anything we could. That was my thought process," Zobrist said. "I felt like if he threw a strike, I could get one down in a good spot and was able to do it.

He took second on Javier Baez's single to left, and Willson Contreras followed with a single to nearly the same spot in shallow left, scoring Zobrist.

Baez moved up to third and Contreras took second on left fielder Andrew Toles' errant throw to the plate that skidded all the way to the backstop.

Jayson Heyward hit a run-scoring groundout, and Russell followed with his first extra-base hit since Sept. 30 and his first homer since Sept. 19. He jubilantly pumped an arm as he rounded the bases on his two-run drive, which put the Cubs ahead 4-0.

Rizzo homered off Pedro Baez leading off the fifth, snapping his 0-for-11 skid in the series. Rizzo had entered 2 for 26 in the postseason.

Los Angeles closed to 5-2 in the fifth. With the bases loaded and one out, Justin Turner's likely double-play grounder caromed off Montgomery's outstretched glove and Russell, who scrambled on all fours at shortstop as the ball went into left-center field for a two-run single.

Chicago tacked on five runs in the sixth off relievers Ross Stripling and Luis Avilan. Dexter Fowler singled in the first run, Rizzo added two more on a bases-loaded single and Javier Baez hit a sacrifice fly, with a second run scoring on an error by center fielder Joc Pederson.


Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez was tagged out at home to end the second. A sliding Gonzalez stretched his left hand toward the tip of the plate as catcher Contreras applied the tag with his left hand near Gonzalez's upper left arm.

The Dodgers challenged Angel Hernandez's call, which was upheld on video review. That drew online scorn from Washington star Bryce Harper.

"He was safe! Replay system still broke..Same thing all year long! (hashtag)DontMessItUp," Harper tweeted.


Hall of Fame broadcaster Vin Scully will attend Thursday's game, his first time back at Dodger Stadium since calling his last home game on Sept. 25. The 88-year-old ended his 67-year career this month with the regular-season finale at San Francisco.


Cubs reliever Carl Edwards Jr. left in the seventh because of left hamstring tightness.


Ashton Kutcher and wife Mila Kunis announced the Dodgers' starting lineup. Also on hand were Rob Lowe, Charlie Sheen, George Lopez, Larry King and Mary Hart.


Lester allowed one run in six innings of Game 1 in the series, getting a no-decision in Chicago's 8-4 victory. ... Maeda has a 9.00 ERA in two postseason appearances. He allowed three runs and four hits in four innings of the NLCS opener and didn't factor in the decision.

Dodgers shut out Cubs in Game 3, take 2-1 NLCS lead


Dodgers shut out Cubs in Game 3, take 2-1 NLCS lead


LOS ANGELES -- Rich Hill never strayed from his mindset of pitching in the moment, even when he was far from the major leagues playing independent ball with the Long Island Ducks.

Convinced there would be another opportunity to get back to the big leagues, he focused on executing pitches without worrying about his current circumstances.

Fourteen months later, Hill allowed two hits over six innings to beat Cy Young Award winner Jake Arrieta and the Chicago Cubs 6-0 Wednesday, giving the Los Angeles Dodgers a 2-1 NL Championship Series lead.

"It's the biggest game of my career," Hill said. "It's just putting in the work, putting in the time, having a routine, persevere, all those things that you can say to sum up some kind of endurance or resiliency. For me, that's all I've ever known is just work."

Rookie Corey Seager had three hits, including a go-ahead single in the third, and Yasmani Grandal hit a two-run homer in the fourth.

After winning a big league-high 103 games during the regular season and sparking belief they could win the World Series for the first time since 1908, the Cubs have been shut out in consecutive games for the first time since May 2014, managing just six hits - five of them singles. Their 18 straight scoreless innings mark the longest postseason drought in franchise history, according to the Elias Sports Bureau.

"More than anything, I think we need to get a couple runs and hits and runs early to try to get that kind of feeling back," Cubs manager Joe Maddon said, "because, obviously, when you're not scoring any runs, it makes it even more difficult in the dugout."

Hill, who made two starts in the independent Atlantic League in August 2015 before signing a minor league deal with Boston , struck out six and walked two. Joe BlantonGrant Dayton and Kenley Jansen finished. Playing their 200th postseason game, the Dodgers posted consecutive shutouts for the first time.

Julio Urias starts Game 4 for the Dodgers on Wednesday and at 20 years, 68 days will become the youngest starting pitcher in postseason history. John Lackey starts for the Cubs.

"He's not scared of the moment," Seager said of Urias. "He's not scared of anything."

Hill was acquired from Oakland along with Josh Reddick at the Aug. 1 trade deadline. The 36-year-old left-hander struggled with a blister on the middle finger of his pitching hand that landed him on the disabled list from mid-July to late August. The blister still bothered him in the final weeks of the regular season, and Dodgers manager Dave Roberts pulled him after seven perfect innings against Miami on Sept. 10, saying the team had to keep its focus on bigger goals in October.

Hill was strong from the start against one of his former teams, retiring the side to open the game and later eight in a row. He's given up one run in 23 innings over four home starts for the Dodgers, lowering his ERA to 0.39.

"When he's got that attitude out there, you can tell," Dodgers first baseman Adrian Gonzalez said. "That's when you know he's rolling, that his pitches are working, and he's doing what he wants to do out there."

Seager's go-ahead single ended an 0-for-15 slide with runners in scoring position in postseason play.

Grandal was 0 for 5 with three strikeouts against Arrieta in his career before he launched a 3-2 pitch into the right-field pavilion in the fourth for a 3-0 lead. Grandal drove in Reddick, who singled and stole second and third.

"He's been so good for the last couple years just because he doesn't give in," Grandal said of Arrieta. "He still made a really good pitch down in the zone. I was just lucky to put a swing on it and hit it out."

Justin Turner homered on the first pitch leading off the sixth to chase Arrieta, who gave up four runs and six hits in five innings. He dominated the Dodgers in his previous two starts against them, including a no-hitter at Dodger Stadium on Aug. 30, 2015. Los Angeles had gone 2 for 51 against him in two games.

"It's hard to go out there and pitch when your team is not scoring, so you try to be perfect. You can't make any mistakes. If you give up one run, that can be it," Cubs catcher Miguel Montero said. "He had one of his best stuff all year, to be honest."

Joc Pederson doubled in a run in the eighth and Grandal hit a run-scoring groundout .

Maddon moved struggling Anthony Rizzo from third to the cleanup spot, and his broken-bat infield hit in the ninth made him 2 for 26 in the postseason. Addison Russell, dropped from fifth to seventh, is 1 for 24. Jason Heyward struck out as a pinch hitter and is 2 for 19.

Chicago's 3-4-5 hitters went 1 for 11 in the game and are 2 for 32 in the series without an RBI.

Dexter Fowler's two-out double in the eighth provided the Cubs' first extra-base hit since their 8-4 win in the opener.

"There's no doubt here," third baseman Kris Bryant said. "We certainly have all the belief in the world. It's a powerful thing when you believe."

With a win Wednesday, the Dodgers could try to finish the series at home.

"These guys won 100-some games. They've got the talent, so you can't think ahead," Grandal said. "If you think ahead, that's when bad things happen."

Four of Chicago's eight shutouts this year have been against the Dodgers.

Roberts hasn't ruled out turning to Clayton Kershaw to pitch on three days' rest in Game 5 on Thursday.

Los Angeles has announced rookie Kenta Maeda as its starter. He's given up seven earned runs in a combined seven innings of his two postseason starts.

In last week's five-game Division Series against Washington, Kershaw pitched in all three wins. He started Game 1 and Game 4, on three days' rest and got his first big league save in Game 5.

"The series circumstances will kind of dictate what decision we make," Roberts said Tuesday. "Clayton feels good after Game 2. He's prepared for anything that we have for him. He's shown the ability to adjust his routine or regimen for whatever is best for our club."

Lackey is 8-5 with a 3.22 ERA in 24 postseason appearances. Urias will be the third consecutive left-hander to start for the Dodgers. He earned the victory over Washington in Game 5 of the NLDS with two scoreless innings.