Giants

Belt makes a statement in spring debut

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Belt makes a statement in spring debut

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. Manager Bruce Bochy cant stroll througha mall without being approached by Giants fans. And all of them seem to bemembers of the Brandon Belt fan club.
After the hellos and platitudes, they often sneak in a Hey,play the kid, will ya?"So when Beltwent 3 for 4 with a home run while serving as the designated hitter in Saturdays Cactus League opener, Bochycouldnt resist the urge to have a little fun.Boy, Belts been locked in, hasnt he? the manager said, grinning.All kidding aside, Bochy acknowledges that Belt presents the Giants toughest callof the spring. Their roster, already stuffed with lefty bats, actually fitstogether easier if he starts the season in Triple-A Fresno. It means AubreyHuff would play first base instead of left field, where hed be a questionmark.

But if Belt convinces the front office and coaching staffthat he is ready to be an impact performer against major league pitching,theyll have to pay their respects to that. Like all those Giants fans he meets, Bochy wants to put his best team on the field, too.
Right now, Bochy cant say whether the Giants will be abetter team on opening day with Belt or without him. Thats what they hope tofind out in the next four weeks.Hes a good player. We know that, Bochy said. Well betalking about Brandon Belt quite a bit, what he can bring. Hes a guy who willprobably be decided in the last part of the spring.Belt had three of the Giants nine hits in a 9-6 loss toArizona. He tomahawked a single in the first inning off Arizonas JoshCollmenter. He singled to right in the sixth against Ryan Budde. Then hepounded his homer over the right field fence off Yonata Ortega in the ninth.(It wouldve been off the bricks at AT&T Park, though.)Bochy liked the fact that Belt was aggressive early in thecount. He took a healthy cut at the first pitch he saw from Collmenter,swinging through it.Hes swinging well, Bochy said. Last spring, he swung thebat well. He came in ready to go.We want these guys to let it go when they get a pitch tohit, but lay off the tough pitches, too. The thing about Brandon, he knows whathe needs to work on. But when he gets a good pitch, hey, let it go.Thats what Belt tried to do in the Dominican winter leagueand thats what he plans to carry over.Id rather be overaggressive and have to back off than bepassive and have to dial it up, he said. Once you figure that stuff out, itdoesnt leave you. For the most part, you remember it.Belt remembers everything coming far too easily in 2010,when he hit .352 with a 1.075 OPS while zooming from Single-A San Jose toDouble-A Richmond to Triple-A Fresno.But he made a fairly stunning admission about hisseason-long hot streak that burst him into the elite prospects rankings.In 2010, even when I was hitting well, I didnt have anyidea what I was doing, he said. I was just hitting.He never had to dig his way out of a slump. So when thathappened at various junctures in the big leagues last season, he didnt havethe experience to know what to do.I dont think I took the time to figure out what was goingon, he said. It was all so fast. I didnt take the time to regroup.He said he did some of that thinking in the 10 days betweenthe end of last season and his first game for Escogido in the Dominican.Asked if he would rather be a bench player in the bigleagues or a starter at Triple-A, Belt made another surprising comment. He saidhed rather play.Thats a tough decision, he said. We all want to be in thebig leagues. But my main goal is to play every day. If I have to start inFresno, thats what Ill do. Then my goal will be to produce enough to get backup here.

Hunter Pence changing positions to accommodate Andrew McCutchen

Hunter Pence changing positions to accommodate Andrew McCutchen

SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew McCutchen has spent his entire career as a center fielder. With a new team comes a new position. 

Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed on Tuesday that McCutchen will move to right field for the Giants, with Hunter Pence sliding over from right to left. Bochy said he talked to McCutchen about the plan -- one the Giants had throughout the McCutchen chase -- after Monday's trade. 

"I'm looking forward to right field," McCutchen said. "That's one place people can't pick on me saying that my defensive metrics are so bad. I'm looking forward to playing right. I know there's a lot of room out there to run, so it's definitely going to be almost like playing center."

McCutchen said he's looking forward to picking Pence's brain about patrolling right field at AT&T Park. Bochy has already spoken to Pence and said his longtime right fielder is on board with the plan. 

"He's just so excited about getting Cutch on this club that he's good with anything or whatever is best for this club," Bochy said. "So that's the plan right now."

McCutchen has played 11,621 defensive innings in his career and all but 115 1/3 of them have been in center field. He briefly moved to right field last season but shifted back to center when Starling Marte was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance. McCutchen was a Gold Glove Award winner in 2012 but his defensive metrics tailed off in recent seasons. He was worth negative 28 Defensive Runs Saved in 2016 and was at negative 16 DRS last season. 

McCutchen had wanted to stay in center in Pittsburgh, but said it's a new case with a new team.

"I wasn’t too keen on (moving at first) because I felt that I had more there, that I could do something there (in center)," he said. "I honored (the Pirates) once they wanted me to play a little shallower and that backfired on me. I was basically asking for another shot but I didn’t get that chance or opportunity. But now that I’m going into the Giants organization and this is something they want me to do, I’m all for it.

"San Francisco has a huge field. It’s bigger than PNC Park. They’ve got Triples Alley and it’s called Triples Alley for a reason. For me, it’s another center field. I’m moving over a little and if it’s saving my legs and I can get more stolen bases, I’m all game and I’m all for it.”

Pirates front office raves about McCutchen after trading him to Giants

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USATSI

Pirates front office raves about McCutchen after trading him to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — There was a sense of celebration within the Giants organization on Monday after the addition of Andrew McCutchen. He is easily their best outfielder, a potential solution atop the order, and a player who is known for being a tremendous presence in the clubhouse. 

If the Giants had any doubts, though, they surely felt better after seeing the quotes that came out of Pittsburgh. In a series of statements, Pirates officials made it clear this was a difficult trade to make, with chairman Bob Nutting calling it “one of the most emotionally agonizing decisions that we have had to make in my tenure.”

Nutting, in a statement, said that McCutchen’s smile and energy were infectious even as a teenager. Later, McCutchen got the Pirates to three straight postseason appearances. 

“He did so while always carrying himself with humility, dignity and grace,” Nutting said. 

Team president Frank Coonelly described the trade as painful. 

“(No) individual was more responsible for the success that we had from 2013 to 2015 than Cutch,” Coonelly said in a statement,” And no player was more disappointed than Andrew that we did not break through and win a World Series Championship for the City of Pittsburgh.”

McCutchen was Pittsburgh’s first-round selection in the 2005 draft and made his debut in 2009. In nine seasons with the Pirates, he was a five-time All-Star and a perennial MVP candidate. He won the award in 2013 and finished in the top five of voting for four consecutive seasons. 

General manager Neal Huntington said the decision to actually part with the franchise player was “incredibly difficult.”

“Watching Andrew patrol center field with grace, fly around the bases, drive the ball all around the ballpark, celebrate with his teammates or interact with his family, friends or fans has created lifelong memories for me and many, many others around the game of baseball,” he said.