Giants

EXTRAS: Posey's baserunning still a concern

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EXTRAS: Posey's baserunning still a concern

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he was encouraged after watching Buster Posey slide on a pad and push his ankle a little harder as he ran along the cut of the infield grass Monday.

But Bochy acknowledged that Posey still has some major mental hurdles to clear, and running the actual bases is one of them.

"I thought overall, he loosened up," Bochy said. "He was running better there. That's going to be a confidence factor. Once he does it and realizes, Hey, I'm OK,' he'll be fine."

Posey could start running the bases on Tuesday, Bochy said. He'll need to feel comfortable with that before he plays in an exhibition game -- something that could happen as early as Friday.

As for the sliding?

"It was easy," Bochy said.

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After gas-leak evacuations and swarms of bees the first two days of Cactus League play, Monday night's game went off without any strangeness. (Unless you count Travis Ishikawa hitting a home run against his former team.)

Bochy turned to hitting coach Hensley Meulens late in the game and wondered why that flock of bats hadn't arrived.

"We used them all up yesterday, huh?" Bochy said.

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The Giants like what they see in Gregor Blanco. The MVP of the Venezuelan winter league, Blanco was 1 for 2 with a walk and a pair of stolen bases Monday night. Bochy even tried to use his shiny new weapon to score on a squeeze play, but catcher Chris Stewart fouled off his bunt attempt.

It's hard to say any non-roster player could make the kind of impact that Andres Torres did in 2010. But there are some parallels. Blanco certainly will get a long look this spring, and Bochy plans to put him in motion.

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After Blanco, the second hottest hitter in Venezuela this winter was Hector Sanchez. he nearly won the league's batting title and said he's feeling especially good from the left side.

It showed Sunday, when he strode to the plate after the 41-minute bee-swarm delay.

"First pitch, whack!" Angel Pagan said. "I said, This guy must be locked in.'"

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Nerves, thy name is a 48-foot David Quinowski breaking ball.

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Speaking of nerves, I'm happy to report that I survived my dugout interview with Kruk and Kuip during Monday's game. Nobody was happier than me that it was a brisk, 1-2-3 inning.

It's strange. I've covered baseball for 15 years and that was my first time in a dugout during an actual game (or exhibition, in this case). It was pretty neat to be so close to first base when Aubrey Huff made a nice shorthand pickup and Matt Cain narrowly avoided colliding with the baserunner. It was a glimpse, for me, of how fast the game really gets.

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

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USATSI

As Dodgers celebrate, Bochy turns eyes to franchise-altering talent

LOS ANGELES — The Giants left their dugout quickly after Friday’s loss, escaping a celebration on the mound and a fireworks show in the sky. As Dodger Stadium shook with cheers, Bruce Bochy sat in the visiting clubhouse and smiled. He nodded at his laptop, which earlier had been used to pull up highlights of Japanese two-way star Shohei Otani. 

“He’s good,” Bochy said, laughing. “I absolutely would play him every day.”

Earlier in the week, when it became known that Bobby Evans and Jeremy Shelley were headed to Japan to scout Otani, Bochy said he couldn’t imagine a player pitching and then moving to the outfield between starts. What changed? 

Perhaps it was the tape Bochy saw. Otani throws 100 mph and hits homers with ease. Or perhaps it was the game he watched Friday. The Giants lost for the 94th time, with the big blow coming from a 22-year-old Dodgers star. Cody Bellinger’s blast was the difference in a 4-2 win, and the Giants don’t have a Bellinger, or anything close. Otani, 23, is a long shot for a team that very well could finish with the worst record in baseball. Still, he’s the kind of talent that could help pull the Giants closer in a hurry. He’s the  kind of talent they haven’t developed in years, and Bochy certainly sounded a bit wistful as he talked of the power Bellinger has put on display. 

“You call up a guy and he does that — that just doesn’t happen,” he said. “It’s a rare deal.”

The ninth inning of the Dodgers’ clincher reinforced that point for the Giants. They got a homer from Pablo Sandoval, but he’s playing only because Christian Arroyo — the Giants’ best prospect bet this year — is hurt. Ryder Jones, their 23-year-old prospect, struck out to end the night, dropping his average to .180. 

That set off a celebration for Bellinger and the Dodgers. They have won five straight NL West titles, with three of the last four clinched against the Giants. 

“Congrats to them,” Bochy said. “They’ve had a tremendous year across the board, and they’ve played great baseball. They brought some guys up that really did a great job for them. It’s well deserved.”

Bochy said it was not difficult to watch this one. The division has been wrapped up for months, with only a September slide keeping the Dodgers from clinching earlier. 

“We knew what we were facing here,” Bochy said. 

The Giants have two more against the Dodgers and then six more before a long winter. The Dodgers, on the other hand, will host an NLDS series here at Dodger Stadium. Both Bochy and starter Jeff Samardzija made the same observation, that the Dodgers will have a hard time cutting their deep roster down to 25 postseason players. 

That’s a nice problem to have. It’s a foreign one right now for the Giants, who have a serious talent gap and no clear solutions internally. It’s no wonder, then, that Bochy has all of a sudden become so intrigued by a wondrous talent overseas. 

Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers

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USATSI

Samardzija hits two milestones, makes 200-200 club in start vs Dodgers

LOS ANGELES — When the Giants gathered for spring training in February, team officials thought they had put together a rotation with four 200-inning arms. The starters didn’t come close to hitting that lofty goal, but one Giant got to the 200-inning mark Friday night. 

Jeff Samardzija hit 200 innings in the third inning Friday night at Dodger Stadium, reaching the standard for the fifth consecutive season. Samardzija also became the first Giant this year to reach 200 strikeouts when he struck out Curtis Granderson to open the second inning. The right-hander will be the only member of the rotation to reach either milestone, with Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto limited by injuries and Matt Moore having a down year. 

“These guys like Jeff that are able to handle that workload that he does and log 200 innings and have durability, that’s invaluable,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “You look at what it does for the ‘pen but also the quality of innings he gives you. His record should be different with how he has thrown the ball — he can’t control that. But the workload itself is important.”

Samardzija became the first Giants right-hander to strike out 200 in a season since Tim Lincecum (220) in 2011. Samardzija joined Carlos Martinez as the only National League pitchers who have thrown 200 innings this year, and Max Scherzer, Jacob deGrom, Robbie Ray, Martinez and Zack Greinke in the league’s 200-strikeout club.