Giants notes: Bochy settles on Belt/Pence for second slot

Giants notes: Bochy settles on Belt/Pence for second slot
March 28, 2014, 5:30 pm
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With Scutaro out, you have to be a little creative and that’s what we’re trying to do.
Bruce Bochy

SAN FRANCISCO – Hunter Pence didn’t record the first sacrifice hit of his career until 2012. Brandon Belt doesn’t have enough to form a plurality, either.

Good thing Bruce Bochy doesn’t like to ask his No. 2 hitter to get a bunt down.

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Bochy provided a slight amendment to his plan for replacing Marco Scutaro’s place in the lineup. One night after hitting Pence second, he started Belt in that spot for Friday’s exhibition against the A’s at AT&T Park.

Bochy said he envisions Belt and Pence flip-flopping between the second and fifth spots, with Belt moving up against right-handed pitches and Pence hitting behind leadoff man Angel Pagan against lefty starters.

The fact that Pence and Belt have two sacrifice hits between them? Not too relevant.

“As you know, I don’t like to bunt a lot,” said Bochy, who has a bit of Earl Weaver in him. “For the most part, we’re looking at these two.”

Bochy said he wouldn’t rule out batting Joaquin Arias or Brandon Crawford in the No. 2 spot, but only when he feels the lineup is getting a bit stagnant and could use a change for change’s sake. It’s a long season, so those times are bound to happen now and then.

As for Michael Morse? Bochy said he hit him second in recent days mostly to get him an extra at-bat while he made up for lost time with a calf strain.

Morse made little sense near the top of the order, anyway, because he doesn’t run well. Pence stole a career-best 22 bases in 25 tries last season, and while Belt is not known as a pure burner, he’s capable of going from first to third or scoring from second base on a single.

“They get on base and they run pretty good,” Bochy said. “With Scutaro out, you have to be a little creative and that’s what we’re trying to do.”

Scutaro had nine sacrifice hits last year, but most if not all of those bunts were on his own. In fact, Bochy talked to him more than once about how he didn’t always feel a bunt was the best play early in games, since it can minimize a potentially big inning. Although Bochy is no Sabermetrician, he gets their stamp of approval in this area.

Giants notes: Bruce Bochy has talked to most players and told them whether they made the team or not. Official word will come down Saturday, but given the way Bochy heaped praise on non-roster infielder Brandon Hicks, it’s safe to say he’s on the club. … It’s rare for the Giants to use a DH at home in these Bay Bridge exhibitions, but with Saturday’s game at Oakland threatened by rain, Bochy didn’t want some guys to go three days without an at-bat. So Bochy extended the DH offer to the A’s, and penciled in Hector Sanchez to get some extra at-bats. … Bochy was asked what he’d like to see in Tim Lincecum’s final exhibition tuneup. “Nine innings, no hits … and a home run,” he said. The no-hitter is the easy part. The home run, with Sanchez at DH, will be a bit tougher.

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