EXTRA BAGGS: Whiteside, Stewart, or none of the above?


EXTRA BAGGS: Whiteside, Stewart, or none of the above?

SURPRISE, Ariz. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he and GMBrian Sabean pretty much have the team picked, but there are a few unresolvedissues.

Backup catcher might be the most hotly debated issueremaining, and get this: It could involve young switch-hitter Hector Sanchez asBuster Poseys only backup.

Bochy said he and Sabean were still discussing whether tocarry two or three catchers something that will be difficult with theirstated intention to break with a 12-man pitching staff.

But either Chris Stewart or Eli Whiteside will make the clubas Poseys primary backup, right?

Well, I cant answer that question, said Bochy, his eyebrows raised. Werestill talking. I guess Im saying were staying open minded. I said this wouldbe a difficult decision, and theres a couple others right there with it.

This represents a fairly large shift in thinking. Allspring, Bochy framed the backup catcher situation as a competition betweenStewart and Whiteside. But Sanchez continued to keep himself in theconversation; the 22-year-old switch-hitter has a .405 average with a team-highfour home runs and 1.195 OPS this spring, following up on a huge season in theVenezuelan winter league.

His presence would give the Giants a bat off the bench andthe ability to take Posey out early, or pinch-run for him, without the fear ofhaving just one other catcher on the roster.

The Giants had planned for Sanchez to be the everydaystarter at Triple-A Fresno, where he could work on his receiving skills.

We are still debating that. Ill say that, said Bochy,asked about Sanchez. Its a decision that will go down to the wire. Two orthree, and that will obviously affect another player.

Youre right, Hector has really played great ball and hescaught well. Hes done a good job blocking and receiving. Hes a nice player.

Bochy received glowing reports on Brian Wilson, who threw 20pitches against the Diamondbacks Triple-A team in minor league camp onThursday.

You know what? Hes ready, said Bochy, after Wilson walkedone and struck out two. Hell go back-to-back days, check that off and hellbe ready. We like where hes at in terms of stuff, velocity. Hes good to go.

Bochy said hed check to see how Wilson feels Fridaymorning, but the current plan was to pitch an inning in the Cactus Leagueexhibition against the San Diego Padres at Peoria, Ariz.

The Giants changed the schedule for Tim Lincecum. Instead ofthrowing in minor league camp Sunday for his final tuneup before the April 6opener, he will start the Cactus League finale against the Milwaukee Brewers atMaryvale.

Lincecum will throw just four or five innings, Bochy said.

Bochy liked the at-bats he saw in Thursday nights 6-2victory over Texas at Surprise. He especially made note of Pablo Sandoval, whohad a hit in three at-bats against lefty Matt Harrison.

Pablo from the right side, hes much improved from earlierin the spring, Bochy said. He was really lunging earlier. Hes balanced now.Hes taking pitches where he had been getting himself out.

Freddy Sanchez is taking baby steps after Sundays cortisoneshot to kickstart his repaired right shoulder. He began playing catch againThursday and Bochy said he and trainers felt good about the session. Still notimetable to begin taking infield practice again and move toward playing secondbase, though.

Sanchez will start the season on the disabled list,obviously.

As it stands now, theres an excellent chance that both MikeFontenot and Ryan Theriot will be on the opening-day roster.

Well know for sure in a few hours. If the Giants want tocut either player, theyll have to do it by Friday. Otherwise, their entiresalary (1.25 million for Theriot, 1.05 million for Fontenot) will becomeguaranteed. Theyre only guaranteed a quarter of their salary if they are cutbefore the deadline.

Theriot said he hadnt heard anything.

Youll probably know before I do, he said.

The same probably wont be true of Matt Cains extension, ifit happens. But hey, Ill try my best.

In case you missed it, the Miami Marlins released Aaron Rowand on Thursday. That's not a shock, since he was hitting.133 (6 for 45) this spring as a non-roster guy.Rowand told the Miami Herald that he's OK with calling it a career if this is the end. And it almost certainly is."I'll either go somewhere else if another team needs an outfielder or, if not, probably take it to the house, call it a career," Rowand said. "Not everybody gets to decide when they're going to hang 'em up. I feel like I have some left. But, if the opportunity doesn't present itself, then I'm happy with the things I've accomplished and looking forward to the next chapter."
The Giants are paying Rowand's 12 million salary this season -- the last year of his five-year, 60 million contract. Even if he made the Marlins roster, the Giants would've had to pay Rowand all but the major league minimum salary (480,000).

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


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.