Notes: Span ends on high note; Giants honor Scully

Notes: Span ends on high note; Giants honor Scully

SAN FRANCISCO — Denard Span signed a three-year deal with the Giants in part to play in games like the three against the Dodgers. Through the first two games over the weekend, Span was mostly a spectator. 

The leadoff hitter and center fielder most of the season, Span didn’t start Friday and didn’t play at all Saturday. He did, however, make the most of Game 162. 

Span had three hits and scored three runs in the clincher, driving in a pair with a triple to right in the second. His run in that inning gave Matt Moore a 5-0 lead, and in the eighth an insurance run made it 6-1. Span also tracked down Joc Pederson’s threatening fourth-inning fly ball at the wall and he helped Sergio Romo through the ninth with a spectacular diving catch. 

“I woke up this morning locked in,” Span said on Sunday. “Obviously I’m fresh. I haven’t played in two days. I was just locked in.”

That freshness showed in the ninth. Statcast had Span reaching a top speed of 20.4 mph on the ninth-inning play, and he had a route efficiency of 98.2 percent on his way to the grab. As for the reason Span felt fresh, well, it’s clear that the playing time alteration hasn’t always been easy to swallow. 

“I haven’t been in a platoon situation in my career,” Span said. “It wasn’t easy, but I talked to (Bruce) Bochy about it and he told me he needs me to buy in and trust him.”

A few minutes earlier, Bochy had used the same phrase to describe Span’s performance: “He bought in to what we’re doing,” he said. 

Span is hitless in six at-bats against Noah Syndergaard, but it’s a good bet that he’ll be in the batter’s box for the right-hander’s first pitch Wednesday night. If the Giants advance, Bochy will be in for an interesting decision. Gorkys Hernandez became a fixture against left-handers down the stretch and he played well, and Jon Lester will start Game 1 for the Cubs.

That’s a topic for Thursday if the Giants advance. For now, before the wild card game, let’s put a bow on the regular season finale …

--- Span was one of several veteran players who went out of his way Sunday afternoon to compliment Ty Blach, Saturday’s star. Asked about the strong pitching over the final week, he went right to the rookie. “Ty Blach, nobody knew who the heck he was (before) yesterday,” he said, smiling. 

Blach is a household name for Giants fans now. He might have pitched his way onto a playoff roster, too. Remember how valuable Yusmeiro Petit was in the NLDS in 2014? You always need a long reliever. 

--- Several Giants reached out to Ryan Vogelsong on Saturday to provide some good-natured encouragement for the final day. Vogelsong’s help ultimately wasn’t needed, but he did his part anyway, ending his season in style by allowing five hits and one run over five innings. The Cardinals rallied after Vogelsong departed, winning 10-4. They fell a game short of hosting a Monday night tiebreaker. Jeff Samardzija would have pitched for the Giants. 

--- The always-quotable Sergio Romo, as beer dripped down his beard: “Now we get a chance to dance. We like our chances once we get in.”

--- Jake Peavy got the microphone after the game and represented his teammates. He told fans, “I know this season hasn't been what you thought it would be. That being said, we're in." Peavy also promised one more game at AT&T Park, noting that he was one of several free agents standing on the field. “I’m not done playing in this ballpark,” he said. 

--- Here’s my game story from the final game and a notebook leading with Conor Gillaspie’s spectacular catch. And here’s Ray Ratto, getting to the bottom of the best part of the clubhouse party: Some marketing firm probably got paid an absurd amount of money to come up with postseason t-shirt slogans and Bochy celebrated in a 2013 Cactus League shirt. 

--- Regular readers of my post-game “instant replay” stories know that I have taken a few shots at the sellout streak. The math on sellouts is fuzzy, but it just seems pointless to keep that number going (it’s nearing 500) when there were so many nights down the stretch where the ballpark was like 20 percent empty (and don’t get me started on the odd-year Septembers). 

But, credit where credit is due: The Giants handle most things the right way, and they absolutely knocked it out of the park with the Vin Scully tributes. Scully received about a half-dozen standing ovations and was honored with a plaque in the radio booth, presented by Willie Mays. He tapes a video introduction for every game at Dodger Stadium and the Giants showed a special version before Sunday’s game. Between innings, they showed highlights from Scully’s career and tributes from other broadcasting greats. 

Scully signed off for the final time right after 3 p.m. "I have said enough for a lifetime,” he said. “And for the last time, I wish you all a very pleasant good afternoon.”

Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts


Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants moved closer to setting their opening day roster on Monday when they made a significant round of cuts to their spring training roster. 

A total of 15 players were reassigned or optioned, bringing the total to 31 players remaining in camp. Many of the players cut Monday entered the spring competing for jobs. 

In the outfield, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater were optioned to Triple-A and Chris Shaw was reassigned to minor league camp. Williamson had a huge spring and was the likeliest of the trio to push for an opening day spot, but he'll start his year in the minors. Steven Duggar was not among the cuts, and he remains an option to make the team, with the Giants also looking at Gregor Blanco, Gorkys Hernandez and Jarrett Parker for backup spots. Hernandez and Parker are out of minor league options. 

Tyler Beede was optioned and Andrew Suarez was reassigned to minor league camp, leaving three players vying for the final two rotation spots. Ty Blach and Chris Stratton have been the favorites all along, although both struggled the last time out and Derek Holland has had a strong spring. 

Both backup catchers -- Trevor Brown and Hector Sanchez -- were reassigned, along with Orlando Calixte, who saw time in the big leagues last year. Joan Gregorio, Jose Valdez, Justin O'Conner and Kyle Jensen were also reassigned. Chase d'Arnaud, who appeared to be making a strong push, was on the list, too, leaving Josh Rutledge as the only competition for Kelby Tomlinson for the final infield spot. 

Finally, Derek Law and Roberto Gomez were optioned to Triple-A. Josh Osich remains and appears the frontrunner for a bullpen job. Julian Fernandez, the Rule 5 pick, also remains in camp. 

The Giants break camp on Friday.

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.