Giants call up hard-throwing right-hander Reyes Moronta

Giants call up hard-throwing right-hander Reyes Moronta

NEW YORK -- Three years ago, facing a roster crunch and playing in New York, the Giants called up Jarrett Parker and little-known Matt Duffy from nearby Double-A Richmond. They took advantage of that short flight again Wednesday, adding right-hander Reyes Moronta a day after Mark Melancon was put on the DL. 

Moronta was the only 40-man pitcher at Double-A, and he's likely just here for a day. But Bruce Bochy smiled and conceded that sometimes the player has other plans. Duffy certainly did. He never went back down, and with a fastball that tickles triple digits and a big-league caliber slider, Moronta has the stuff to make a big impression. 

Moronta, 24, had 17 strikeouts in 11 1/3 innings for the Flying Squirrels. He struck out 93 in San Jose last year in just 59 innings. 

"He looks like (Jean) Machi a little bit and he has a similar fastball, with a little different angle," Bochy said. "He's a very intense guy. That's the report on him. Sometimes you've got to get him to back off a little. He's definitely a guy we think a lot of. That's why he's on the roster, and that's why he's here."

Moronta got the news after his game last night and flew in this morning. He said this means a lot to him, and he was the first Giant to put on his full uniform Wednesday morning. 

"He's excited," Bochy said. "He's a good kid."

--- Brandon Crawford will get to Citi Field today and fly home with the team. He is expected to start tomorrow night at home, although he has to be checked by trainers one last time. Denard Span played five innings for San Jose last night and felt fine. He'll play seven today.

--- With Posey at first today, Bochy opted against the Brandon Belt in left plan. Belt is hitless in his last 17 at-bats. He has 25 walks, fourth in the NL, but he's also up to 41 strikeouts. 

"Brandon, over his career, he's one of those guys who can be streaky," Bochy said. "He'll tell you his homers come in bunches. Whenever he gets in one of these funks he's usually a little late (on the fastball). Whether it's his setup or getting the front foot down, however you want to say it, that's his adjustment. He is a guy who will walk a lot. He's patient, he's a guy who walks a lot by letting the ball travel and seeing it more. There's a fine line there between catching it out front and letting it travel."

The bottom line: Belt is working deep counts pretty much every plate appearance, but when pitchers get two strikes on him they feel way too comfortable just throwing a heater past his bat, even if they don't have a good fastball. Bochy has in the past given Belt two or three days to clear his head and mechanics when he's slumping like this. He said that's probably not the case this time. Belt is expected back tomorrow. 

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”