Belt (.407) proud of his spring, feels ready for majors


Belt (.407) proud of his spring, feels ready for majors

SURPRISE, Ariz. Brandon Belt slapped three hits Thursdaynight, including a pair of doubles, to raise his spring average to a verypretty .407.

It still might not be enough to crack the Giants opening-dayroster.

Even if the Giants send him to Triple-A Fresno to work onsome recommended adjustments, Belt said hell be satisfied with the way hecompeted and performed.

Even if he might disagree with the decision. Asked if itwould be better to make those adjustments in the big leagues or at Triple-A,Belt gave a candid answer.

My personal opinion? If you want to reach a certain level,you have to play at that level, he said. If I need to get better against bigleague pitching, I need to face big league pitching.

Belt was quick to qualify his statement, saying he has everyrespect for the Giants front office and coaching staff.

I hope that comes out the right way, he said. I know theywant whats best for me and for the team. I cant control where they send meand I understand that. Wherever they put me, Ill work as hard as I can toimprove and help the team. That wont change.

Theres nothing wrong with a player wanting to be in the bigleagues. There would be a problem if the reverse were true. But the Giantswanted to see a more confident player this spring, and after following up his winter ball experience with a good camp, Belt said he definitelyfeels like he belongs.

I think its been a good spring, he said. Coming in, thatwas my goal: To have a consistent, solid spring. Nobodys perfect in springtraining and were all trying to get there, and yeah, I know there are things Ineed to work on. But putting the ball in play hard, I feel good where I am.

The Giants coaching staff wants to avoid what happened lastseason, when Belt was anointed the opening-day first baseman but was sent backto Fresno in late April as his average dipped below the Mendoza line. As Iwrote the other day, hitting coach Hensley Meulens wants Belt to stand a littletaller and move back in the box so he can get the barrel to middle-infastballs.

One of Belts hits was a chopper off the hard infield atSurprise Recreation Campus. The other two were lashed for extra-bases. So thisis what a hard-charging giraffe looks like.

Bochy, asked if one game this late in spring could change aroster decision, answered in the negative.

No, we pretty much were pretty close to having the teampicked, Bochy said. I cant say one game will change. Now, an injury, yeah.But not one game.

Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role


Giants hire David Bell to fill key front office role

SAN FRANCISCO -- A familiar face is returning to the Giants organization to serve a key front office role.

The Giants announced Friday that David Bell, their former third baseman, has been hired as Vice President of Player Development. General manager Bobby Evans said Bell will oversee all aspects of player development, including hitting, pitching, strength and conditioning and the operations of the minor league affiliates. 

"He was the perfect fit," Evans said. "His experience is so strong and encompasses so many aspects of the game. He’s got a really strong base of experience and background and understanding of the game, and he has a passion for the game and working with young players. He really showed a desire to pursue this opportunity." 

Bell, 45, played 12 major league seasons and spent 2002 with the Giants. He hit 20 homers that year as the starting third baseman and scored the winning run in the final game of the NLCS. Since retiring, Bell has served as a minor league manager for the Reds and a big league coach for the Cubs and Cardinals. He spent last season as the bench coach in St. Louis. 

Shane Turner had previously served as farm director, but at the end of the minor league season he was asked to take a role as a special assistant in baseball operations. While Evans did not announce any other changes Friday, there are expected to be other moves within the organization's depth chart. At least one member of the coaching staff is still in the running for a managerial opening. 

Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered


Dusty Baker won't be remembered the way he should be remembered

Firing a manager is easy, and there are lots of ways to do it.

Dusty Baker, for example. He worked this year on the last year of a contract, which usually means there won’t be another one, and he relied on his players to deliver the goods.

Which, as we remember from our reading, they didn’t do. Again.

But Baker was marked for the chop unless those players did deliver, and when they didn’t, general manager Mike Rizzo did the expedient thing.

He fired one person rather than several. And changed exactly nothing.

Baker’s managerial career is probably over now, as most teams don’t look at 68-year-olds to fix their teams. He will never manage a  World Series champion, something he ached for, and he was always be caricatured in part as the guy who didn’t speak metric, and who believed in players as men whenever in doubt.

And the Nats didn’t betray him, either. They were always not as good in the big moments because someone else was, and they became part of Washington’s new fetish – Why Can’t We Win One? It’s as if having a cringeworthy President isn’t good enough for them.

So the time came, and he will be replaced by someone who will either win and get credit for work that was largely his, or he won’t win and the town can continue to wallow in its tedious We’re-The-New-Cubs pity. It is the circle of life.

At least it is for groups of people. For individuals, the circle of life is actually nothing more than a straight line that ends abruptly. For Dusty Baker, as it did for Tony La Russa in Phoenix two days earlier, that day came today. He deserves to be remembered as a very good manager who won a lot more than he lost, made more friends than enemies, and was honest from Day One until the end.

Which, as we also know, doesn’t matter a whole lot on days like this.