EXTRAS: Cabrera's cannon, Bochy's lineup plans, etc.

681558.jpg

EXTRAS: Cabrera's cannon, Bochy's lineup plans, etc.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Angel Pagan and Melky Cabrera did somenice things in their first game as the Giants 1-2 punch.
Pagan singled and stole a base in the Giants 9-6 loss toArizona at Scottsdale Stadium. Cabrera debuted with a double, an RBI and alaser beam throw from left field.Pagan and Cabrera will bat in the Nos. 1-2 spots again forSundays split squad against the Diamondbacks, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.Thats the way well play it, Bochy said. Until (FreddySanchez) comes back, thats what youre going to see.

Bochy also confirmed he is leaning toward Pablo Sandoval inthe No. 3 spot once Buster Posey returns as the cleanup hitter. Sandoval hitfourth on Saturday and probably will bat in the same spot in one of Sundayslineup; Posey wont play in either game, Bochy said.Pagan, Cabrera and Sandoval would give the Giants a trio ofswitch-hitters to send against opposing pitchers in the first inning.Although Sanchez has been a No. 2 hitter most of his career,the Giants might need his right-handed bat to break up the lower half of theorder. They look to be very left-handed with Aubrey Huff (or Brandon Belt),plus Nate Schierholtz and Brandon Crawford.Youll see some different lineups, Bochy said. Really,thats something Ill enjoy, with the flexibility and versatility. But forright now, yes, the lean is toward Pablo third.--

Cabrera has been a very quiet guy thus far this spring. Ididnt really know much about him, to be honest. Playing in the American Leaguewith Kansas City last season, I didnt see much of his breakout season. (He wasa much different hitter with Atlanta in 2010, when he and pretty much therest of the injury-riddled Braves lineup couldnt turn around a fastball inthe NLDS.)So as the Giants took the field for the first Cactus Leaguegame, I was more interested to see Cabrera than any other player.We saw something pretty remarkable right away. In the firstinning, Tim Lincecum gave up a single with runners at second and third. Cabreracharged the ball and made a clothesline throw that reached catcher ChrisStewart on the fly. Justin Upton was beaten to the plate by 20 feet and slowedinto Stewarts tag.Barry Bonds didnt have that arm in left field. Neither didPat Burrell. I cant think of the last time the Giants had an above average armat that position. Can you?Pagan also profiles as an above average defender in centerfield, although not in Andres Torres class. Pagans 10 errors last season(mostly throwing) were a concern. Sure enough, he made an error on his firstchance as a Giant when he overran a single.Bochy didnt mind that, though. He had sent a message toboth outfielders that he wants them to play all-out.Yeah, weve talked about that, with baserunning and howthey play the outfield, Bochy said. We want them to charge the ball and beaggressive. So I dont have any problem with that.--

The sellout crowd of 12,127 cheered a little louder thannormal when Aubrey Huff worked an eight-pitch walk in the first inning. Lestyou be reminded, Huffs walks plummeted from 83 in 10 to 47 last season.Heres a stunner I dug up: His on-base percentage droppedfrom .385 in 10 (10th best in the NL) to .306 last season (eighthworst).Huff also fell victim to the play of the game. In his nextplate appearance, he absolutely crushed a ball almost 420 feet to dead center.Chris Young battled the wind and the sun while making a diving catch on thewarning track.Huff didnt throw up his hands. He just jogged back to thedugout.The wind was no small factor on that Young catch, either. Thebreezy conditions twice victimized Nate Schierholtz on balls over his head inright field.--

The other play of the game: Giants second baseman JoaquinArias butchered a grounder but managed to slap it with his glove to shortstop EmmanuelBurriss for a forceout. Bet he spent all winter practicing that one.Actually, Arias is an interesting guy to watch this spring. Hewas a onetime hot prospect with the Royals and Giants special assistant FelipeAlou said he was one of the most dominant players in the Dominican League thiswinter.--

Center fielder Gregor Blanco was just as dominant in theVenezuelan League while winning MVP honors. Blanco had the biggest hit inThursdays intrasquad game, legging out a triple.I was in the clubhouse standing next to Pablo Sandoval whenBlanco made solid contact. We could see it on a closed-circuit TV feed.You hang it, he bang it, shouted Sandoval, shaking his headin amazement.Perhaps the next best hitter in Venezuela this winter wasswitch-hitting catcher Hector Sanchez. He kept up his stroke with a solo shotoff right-hander Sam Demel in the seventh inning.--

Eric Surkamps first outing of the spring was not very good.He struggled to get his pitches down in the zone and ran a lot of deep countswhile allowing three runs in 1 13 innings. Chris Young took him deep. Surkamp alsospent a lot of time practicing his pickoff move. So it wasnt over quickly,either.--

This mornings post about Dan Runzler (strained lat muscle)has been updated, but in case you missed it, Bochy said the initial diagnosisis that the left-hander would need to rest for at least three to four weeksbefore he could begin throwing again. The club will wait to see if Dr. Andrewsconcurs with that opinion before they plot out an official timetable.--

Cody Ross had quite a debut with the Boston Red Sox. He hita solo home run and later followed that up with a grand slam.The Red Sox were playing Northeastern University. They won25-0.Just more proof that Northwestern > Northeastern.

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.

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

MLB players’ union agrees to pitchless intentional walks

NEW YORK -- There won't be any wild pitches on intentional walks this season.

The players' association has agreed to Major League Baseball's proposal to have intentional walks without pitches this year.

"It doesn't seem like that big of a deal. I know they're trying to cut out some of the fat. I'm OK with that," Cleveland manager Terry Francona said.

While the union has resisted many of MLB's proposed innovations, such as raising the bottom of the strike zone, installing pitch clocks and limiting trips to the mound, players are willing to accept the intentional walk change.

"As part of a broader discussion with other moving pieces, the answer is yes," union head Tony Clark wrote Wednesday in an email to The Associated Press. "There are details, as part of that discussion, that are still being worked through, however."

The union's decision was first reported by ESPN .

"I'm OK with it. You signal. I don't think that's a big deal," Yankees manager Joe Girardi said. "For the most part, it's not changing the strategy, it's just kind of speeding things up. I'm good with it."

There were 932 intentional walks last year, including 600 in the National League, where batters are walked to bring the pitcher's slot to the plate.

"You don't want to get your pitcher out of a rhythm, and when you do the intentional walk, I think you can take a pitcher out of his rhythm," Girardi said. "I've often wondered why you don't bring in your shortstop and the pitcher stand at short. Let the shortstop walk him. They're used to playing catch more like that than a pitcher is."

Agreement with the union is required for playing rules changes unless MLB gives one year advance notice, in which case it can unilaterally make alterations. Baseball Commissioner Rob Manfred expressed hope Tuesday that ongoing talks would lead to an agreement on other changes but also said clubs would reserve the right to act unilaterally, consistent with the rule-change provision of the sport's labor contract.

Some changes with video review can be made unilaterally, such as shortening the time to make a challenge.

"I know they were thinking about putting in a 30-second (limit) for managers to make a decision," Francona said. "I actually wish they would. I think it would hustle it up and if we can't tell in 30 seconds, maybe we shouldn't be doing it anyway."