LOS ANGELES – Brandon Belt was held out of Wednesday’s lineup against left-hander Clayton Kershaw, and the numbers make it obvious what Giants manager Bruce Bochy was thinking.
Belt is 3 for 27 with 13 strikeouts against Kershaw.
But for the most part, it hasn’t been lefties that have given Belt fits. He’s hitting .327 against them, and .247 against right-handers. And for all the talk of his growth as a hitter, including eight home runs that already surpassed his 2012 total, his overall batting line of .264/.333/.438 is comparable to the .259/.373/.428 he posted through 77 games a year ago.
His on-base percentage, you’ll notice, is quite a bit lower than where it was at this point last year. But Bochy said he considers Belt a better hitter than he was at this point in 2012.
“What you’re looking for is improvement,” Bochy said. “He knows that has to happen against right-handers. He’ll face right-handers more than lefties. That’s really an area where he has to get stronger.”
Belt hit a loud double and a home run in Tuesday’s near-comeback defeat. But he’s off against Kershaw, in part because of the matchup sheet and also because Bochy wanted to start Buster Posey at first base. Coupled with Thursday’s travel day, Bochy can get Posey a two-day break from catching.
“He got off to a horrible start, as you know,” Bochy said of Belt. “So for him to be at .260, hitting more homers, shows he’s making strides.”
Seems like the Giants have played a man short all season, waiting for guys to get healthy only to place them on the DL after a week or more.
Looks like they’ll draw a line in the sand with Joaquin Arias. Bochy said if the infielder isn’t ready to play Friday at Coors Field, then the DL will come into play. Arias strained his left hamstring while scoring the Giants’ only run in Monday’s loss at Dodger Stadium.
Santiago Casilla played long toss and said he feels no pain or weakness in his left knee; he had surgery to remove a bone cyst almost four weeks ago. The Giants have missed him sorely against right-handed hitters in the late innings.
Casilla is expected to face hitters on Friday and if all goes well, he’d begin a rehab assignment after that. Bochy is no longer hoping to get Casilla back on this road trip, but he could be activated as early as July 5 when the club begins its next homestand.
In case it wasn’t obvious already, Bochy confirmed that Mike Kickham would start again Monday in the series opener at Cincinnati.
Bochy said he and the staff have talked recently about adding a 13th pitcher. That’s logical, given the seven games that await at lively Coors Field and Great American Ball Park. The Giants likely would have to sacrifice the luxury of their third catcher if they were to add an extra relief arm, Bochy said.
On that subject, Hector Sanchez is catching Tim Lincecum again Wednesday.
Kyle Crick might have missed two months with a strained oblique, but he remains the brightest prospect in the Giants system by a good measure. No surprise, then, when he was named to the All-Star Futures Game roster.