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Giants spring training Day 34: Brown, Susac sidelined

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Giants spring training Day 34: Brown, Susac sidelined

SCOTTSDALE — Buster Posey made his spring debut at first base Monday, and manager Bruce Bochy said he plans on sticking with the same plan as in years past, getting Posey plenty of days away from the squat. At the moment, that’s easier said than done.

Andrew Susac remains sidelined by wrist pain that Bochy described as a “mystery.” Trevor Brown, the other catcher on the 40-man roster, was removed after one inning Monday after getting hit by a backswing. Brown’s X-rays came back negative, but he’ll likely miss at least a day or two as the Giants begin the last week of camp.

“You don’t like these guys getting nicked up at this time,” Bochy said. “Brownie is going to be fine, we believe. Susac is a mystery, to be honest, with how he feels.”

Susac, who had wrist surgery last September, felt pain in his right wrist while checking his swing against the A’s last Monday. He received a cortisone shot and said he is pain-free when throwing and catching, but there is shooting pain when he takes a full swing. Susac has a bone bruise and inflammation, but an MRI ruled out structural damage and he’s not scheduled for any additional tests.

“We’re trying to figure it out,” he said. “It almost feels like a little nerve thing going on with the shooting pain when I swing. It doesn’t hurt even when I swing at 50 percent (effort). I just want to get right, you know? Health is more important than going out there and trying to play through something like this in the last five days (of camp). I just want to get right.”

Susac and Brown have been competing for the backup spot behind Posey. While Susac entered as the favorite, the injury has held him back and opened the door for Brown, a quality defender who is hitting .375 this spring. The other remaining catcher in camp is veteran George Kottaras. Miguel Olivo came over from minor league camp and went 2 for 3 with two runs and an RBI after replacing Brown.  

GAME RECAP: Jeff Samardzija gave up six earned in six innings, raising his spring ERA to 8.53. What’s up? “Spring training, man,” Samardzija said, smiling. “I feel good, man. It was a great day out there. There were a couple of balls that I left on the plate and they took advantage of it.”

Samardzija was pleased with his splitter and Bochy said he liked the way Samardzija looked, saying there were “a lot of positives.” Samardzija isn’t alone in getting hit this spring; all the starters have, but Bochy said there’s no concern, noting that guys are mostly working on getting pitch counts up this time through the rotation.  

HIGHLIGHT REEL: Angel Pagan robbed Billy Burns of a base hit with a diving catch in the third. It was easily the best play Pagan has made as a left fielder, in part because of the jump he got and the direct path he took. 

“He’s working his tail off,” Bochy said. “He wants to be a good left fielder.”

The Giants lost 6-4 but had a strong day in the field. Ehire Adrianza made a Brandon Crawford-ish diving stop on a hard shot to his right and popped up in time to get the out at first. 

LOOKING AHEAD: The Brewers named Wily Peralta their Opening Day starter. Peralta is 3-1 in his career against the Giants, but has a 4.85 ERA in five starts. Pagan is 7 for 13 off him and Posey is 6 for 11.

SHAMELESS PLUG: If you haven’t already subscribed, here’s my iTunes page. Got a good one coming up tomorrow. 

QUOTABLE: Posey made a looping underhand throw back to Samardzija on a grounder to first and the former wide receiver showed off some of that athleticism, making the snag and tapping the bag for the out. He later admitted he might have missed the bag. It was still a nice catch, though. “No broken tackles,” Samardzija said. “But I got out of bounds, stopped the clock.”

Pregame decision, sloppy defense cost Gabe Kapler, Giants in 7-6 loss

Pregame decision, sloppy defense cost Gabe Kapler, Giants in 7-6 loss

It almost seemed like a mistake when the Giants' lineup card was posted.

Steven Duggar, the best defensive outfielder on the roster, was listed in left field. Alex Dickerson was the right fielder for just the second time in his big league career. 

It seemed like a mixup, but Gabe Kapler explained before Monday's game why it made sense. Left field at Coors Field has significantly more real estate than right, and the gap is much harder to play on that side of the field. Kapler said the staff had gone over the spray charts for Rockies hitters and decided it made more sense to put Duggar, who had two previous professional innings in left, there Monday. 

"It's a little bit unpredictable," Kapler said in the afternoon. "Sometimes you get that right and sometimes you don't."

A few hours later, it felt like the decision ended up being costly. Dickerson, who previously had only played right when Brandon Belt was the left fielder, had two misplays in the five-run sixth inning of a 7-6 loss to the Rockies. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

With the Giants up by a run, Ryan McMahon hit a one-out shot to right that Dickerson got a glove on as his feet hit the warning track. But he bobbled the ball and dropped it as McMahon raced into third. The Rockies took the lead later in the inning on a single to right that turned into a two-run play when Dickerson's throw back to the infield overshot the cutoff man. Pitcher Wandy Peralta and catcher Chadwick Tromp ended up converging on the ball near the dugout as the trail runner easily took a vacated plate. 

Kapler said a night like that does lead to second-guessing, but he added that "sometimes you set them up and you set them up the right way and it doesn't work out."

"In hindsight, you question was that the right call. Honestly I bet Dick makes that (catch) 19 out of 20 times," Kapler said. "The throw, I bet he makes almost every time. There's no question."

The Giants were confident in their process, but at this point it might be hard to be too confident in how those decisions will play out on the field. The defense has been a mess through 11 games, a bit of a surprise given the intensity of both camps. They lead the NL with 13 errors. Evan Longoria booted a grounder in the first inning that led to the first run off Johnny Cueto, who was later charged with two more on a Nolan Arenado homer. 

That blast, Arenado's first of the year, started the five-run outburst. The Rockies kept tacking on thanks to the defensive mistakes, and perhaps the pre-game decision. 

[RELATED: How Giants are developing players at alternate site]

Dickerson said the switch might have factored in "a little bit" on the angles he took and said something caught his eye on the throw, perhaps because he was in an unfamiliar spot. But Dickerson said there were no excuses, and those were plays that should have been made regardless of his lack of experience in right. 

"At the end of the day you're still an athlete," he said. "You've got to be able to go catch a ball like that. I just kind of had one of those innings where there were two big flukes that really cost us."

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 7-6 loss to Rockies

Giants takeaways: What you might have missed in 7-6 loss to Rockies

BOX SCORE

Through their good times and bad early on this season, there's been one consistent theme for the Giants. They've been sloppy defensively, and on Monday that was a killer.

The Rockies scored five runs in the sixth, pushed along by a couple of defensive misplays from right fielder Alex Dickerson, and held on for a 7-6 victory. The Giants fell back a game under .500.

Here are three things you have to know from the first night of a 10-game road trip:

Step in the Right Direction

Johnny Cueto entered with a 5-2 record and 3.26 ERA in eight career starts at Coors Field, which is rare, obviously. He had his longest start of the young season, going five innings for the first time and allowing three runs, two of which were earned.

Cueto was cruising along until Nolan Arenado did what he has always done, crushing an elevated fastball into the empty seats for a two-run homer. 

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Same Old Nolan

Arenado entered the game with a .226 average and no homers, but he took Cueto halfway up the bleachers in left in the sixth inning. That was the last batter Cueto faced. 

The homer was the 228th of Arenado's career, which moved him past Carlos Gonzalez and into fourth place on the franchise list. He has hit 227 of those against the Giants.

[RELATED: Nine observations from GIants' homestand]

Still Powerful

The Giants hit some long homers on the 3-3 homestand and kept crushing on their first night in the best hitter's park around.

Chadwick Tromp homered for the second straight day and red-hot Mike Yastrzemski hit his third in 11 games. The most impressive shot came from Dickerson, who one-handed a low slider over the right field wall. It was his second career homer off a lefty. Coors!