EXTRA BAGGS: Cain or Dickey to start for NL All-Stars?


EXTRA BAGGS: Cain or Dickey to start for NL All-Stars?

BOX SCOREWASHINGTON Buster Posey hasnt received any guidance orhints from major league officials on whether he should be ready to catch NewYork Mets knuckleballer R.A. Dickey in the All-Star game.

NL manager Tony LaRussa seemed to drop hints on a conferencecall that hell wait to use Dickey until catcher Yadier Molina, whose defensehe knows and trusts, replaces Posey behind the plate.

Dickey is considered a top possibility to start, along withthe Giants Matt Cain. Dickey probably didnt aid his cause by allowing fiveruns on 11 hits in seven innings while getting a no-decision in the Metsvictory over the Phillies on Thursday.

Cain was doing more to aid his cause when he led 5-1 in theseventh at Washington. But he gave up a pair of home runs and his 10thvictory disappeared when Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla combined to losethe lead in the Giants 6-5 loss.

Posey said he isnt worried about whom hell catch. He wasglad to hear that Dickey plans to bring a special, extra-large sized catchersmitt to Kansas City for the All-Star Game. He also has the phone number forJosh Thole, the Mets catcher. He said former teammate Andres Torres passed italong to him.

But right now Im focused on what we need to do, Poseytold me. After Sunday, maybe Ill give him a call.

The Giants have a few amateur knuckleballers hanging around.Bruce Bochy throws a pretty good one. So does bullpen catcher Bill Hayes. AndBochy can offer advice gleaned from his experience working with Phil Niekroduring his playing days in Houston.

I wont lie, Bochy said. Sometimes the game becomes nofun. You almost become a goalie back there, and it gets a little embarrassing.

In case it isnt abundantly clear, Posey has never caught aknuckler before.

Aubrey Huff took batting practice and fielded ground ballsat first base but didnt start for Single-A San Jose Thursday night.

Huffs knee was sore following Wednesdays game, the firstof his minor league rehab assignment. Observers said he looked gimpy whiletrying to score from second base on a single.

Huff is remaining with the club and its hoped he will beable to play on Friday, San Jose announcer Joe Ritzo reported on his Twitteraccount.

Bochy took advantage of Wednesdays 11:05 a.m. game to pulla July 4 doubleheader. He drove nearly two hours to see the night game atDouble-A Richmond.

His son, Brett, didnt pitch. Hed gone in two of theprevious three games, and the Flying Squirrels didnt have a save situation. SoBochy wasnt going to demand a special command appearance. But he liked what hesaw.

They played well, Bochy said. (Tommy) Joseph crushed one,(Gary) Brown had a great night and (Ehire) Adrianza had some kind of gamedefensively, and he hit a double and a homer.

So I got to see one Giants win yesterday.

Good thing Bochy wasnt able to go to Thursday nights game.Their former top prospect, Zack Wheeler, dominated his former buddies in 7 13innings in Binghamtons 5-1 victory.

Bochy is being consistent while taking Pablo Sandoval out forlate inning defense. As I understand it, Sandoval will be allowed to play tothe end once he hits a certain weight on the scale.

The late-inning moves paid off several times, including inMatt Cains perfect game. But newly entered shortstop Brandon Crawford bounceda potential double-play throw on the games final play.

What was Ryan Zimmermans view of the play, when AdamLaRoche rolled a ground ball to second base with the bases loaded? WouldLaRoche be fast enough to beat it out?

Zimmermans thoughts at the time:

Hopefully Adams fast enough Actually I know hes notfast enough, Zimmerman said. Hopefully they mess it up.

And with that, on to Pittsburgh

What the Giants' 2018 Opening Day lineup could look like

What the Giants' 2018 Opening Day lineup could look like

SAN FRANCISCO — The excitement could be heard in Bruce Bochy’s voice as he spoke on a conference call Tuesday afternoon, which was understandable. Bochy used 136 different lineups last season, largely because the Giants never found permanent solutions in the outfield or at third base. 

Since the final game of a 98-loss season, the front office has handed Bochy an everyday third baseman in Evan Longoria, a star in right field in Andrew McCutchen, and a versatile outfield option in Austin Jackson. With every new addition, Bochy has tinkered with the lineup bouncing around his head. He isn’t ready to reveal anything publicly, but he said the new-look staff is already discussing lineup options. 

“It’s going to be probably toward the end of spring training until we have this lineup down,” Bochy said. “It’s a different lineup, as you know. I’ll see or we will see what makes the most sense.”

In McCutchen and Longoria, the Giants added two guys used to hitting right in the heart of the order. After the Longoria deal, Bochy did say he would like to hit Longoria in front of Buster Posey and Brandon Belt. Since then, McCutchen has given him another option, and a lot more could still change. 

Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans would like to add one more center fielder, and it’s possible that player can lead off. Steven Duggar could win the job in camp, and with his speed and strong eye at the plate, he would be an ideal leadoff option. That is, however, a lot of pressure for a rookie, and Bochy mentioned McCutchen and Jackson as options atop the lineup. Both hit there quite a bit earlier in their careers, but McCutchen hasn’t been a leadoff hitter since 2011 and Jackson has just 56 starts there the last three years. Joe Panik and Hunter Pence also have experience leading off for Bochy, and it’s possible the top of the lineup could change depending on the opposing pitcher.  

“I’ve always liked to have the versatility or flexibility to mix it a little bit,” Bochy said. “Maybe it’s a matchup thing or lefty-righty.”

It will be a lefty, Clayton Kershaw, staring in at the Giants on opening day. So for now, here’s a guess at the group Bochy will send out there at Dodger Stadium … 

1. Andrew McCutchen RF
2. Joe Panik 2B
3. Evan Longoria 3B
4. Buster Posey C
5. Brandon Belt 1B
6. Hunter Pence LF
7. Brandon Crawford SS
8. Austin Jackson CF
9. Madison Bumgarner LHP

Jackson not necessarily Giants' everyday center fielder


Jackson not necessarily Giants' everyday center fielder

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants had a glaring hole in center field after the acquisition of Andrew McCutchen and his subsequent move to right field, so it stood out when a press release to announce the signing of Austin Jackson included the words “depth at all three outfield positions.”

A day later, team officials made it clear that Jackson is not necessarily the final piece of the puzzle, or even the solution in center field. After mentioning several times that it was a strategic signing, vice president of baseball operations Brian Sabean gave a blunt answer when asked about Jackson’s role. 

“Did we get him to be our everyday center fielder? Probably not,” Sabean said. “I don’t know that in his recent history he’s been able to go out there in that fashion.”

Jackson played just 54 games in 2016 and 85 last season for the Indians. The Giants see him as a complementary piece, someone who can handle plenty of time in center, spell McCutchen and Hunter Pence in the corners, and give them a dangerous bat against left-handed pitchers. 

It seemed that was a role that would mostly go to Austin Slater, but the Giants gave Jackson a two-year deal for $6 million, basically wiping out the rest of their room under the tax line. They will not be significantly involved in free agency from this point on, which leaves two options for one more outfield addition. 

Steven Duggar was mentioned over and over again on Tuesday’s conference call, and the Giants will give the prospect a chance to win a significant role this spring. It’s possible that Duggar and Jackson could form a platoon, but before committing to that, the front office will look to add a third offseason addition via trade. 

“There are still some fronts that we are pursuing with minimum-service type of players, which are low in salary,” Sabean said. “We’ll flush out other possibilities.”

Evans has spent months laying the groundwork for multiple deals, and the front office remains confident that one more outfielder can be added via trade. The player would have to be young and pre-arbitration to line up financially with the rest of the offseason work.

If that doesn’t end up happening, Bruce Bochy won’t be too upset. Bochy said he couldn’t be happier with the work Sabean and Evans have done to overhaul an outfield that was unfathomably bad on both sides of the ball last season. If Jackson is the final piece, Bochy is ready to make it work. 

“Right now, as we start the season, I think you’ll see Austin out in center field as much as anything,” he said. “We’ll see where we’re at when we break camp, but that’s a need for us out there in center. As we break camp, we’ll know where we’re at with other options, Gorkys (Hernandez) or Duggar. But center field is where (Jackson) will spend most of his time this spring.”