With Span out another day, Panik gets first big league start atop lineup

With Span out another day, Panik gets first big league start atop lineup

SAN DIEGO -- As Joe Panik got his gear on Friday afternoon, Duane Kuiper walked by and cracked, "Good luck, Little Brock." The Giants don't need their leadoff hitter for the day to do a Lou Brock impersonation. Bruce Bochy is simply looking for one additional quality at-bat.

"He's swinging the bat well," Bochy said. "This is all really about, if you're going to give someone an extra at-bat, the way Joe is swinging, give it to him."

Panik is 5-for-13 with a double and triple through four games. Bochy was short on top-of-the-order choices because Denard Span is still nursing a sore hip and Buster Posey and Hunter Pence got scheduled rest days. Panik has hit first just once since high school: August 4, 2011, when he was a shortstop named Joseph in rookie ball. 

"I'm not going to change my approach," Panik said. "Same attitude, same approach. I don't think they expect me to steal three bags today."

Aaron Hill, Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford and Nick Hundley make up the rest of the top five. Eduardo Nunez, a potential leadoff option, is hitting sixth again.

"I talked to Nuney," Bochy said. "He likes it there. I like him there. It's a mutual deal and he's had some success there."

--- Span took BP and ran sprints, and he hopes to be available off the bench tonight. He looked normal. 

--- Steven Okert is back, replacing Hunter Strickland, who is on the paternity list. Okert would have made the team after a strong spring but the Giants didn't want to lose Neil Ramirez. Okert took it in stride.

"I knew the situation," Okert said. "I knew this was a possibility, being out of options. It's out of my control."

--- The Padres placed former Giant Hector Sanchez on the 7-day concussion DL. Sanchez had a really bad concussion when he was with the Giants, and a bunch of other small things. Hopefully this isn't the end for a guy who really loves to play the game. 

--- Madison Bumgarner taking aim at the scoreboard during BP is nothing new. He missed by about 15 feet, and cracked, "I'm cutting down on my swing." What was new, at least for me, was seeing Dave Righetti and Phil Nevin stop along the third base line to watch him finish up. The Bumgarner thing isn't just a joy for fans to watch. Players and coaches continue to be amazed, too. 

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.