Giants spring training Day 5: Staff being cautious with Pence

Giants spring training Day 5: Staff being cautious with Pence

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Michael Morse provided the highlight of the first day of BP when he skied a homer off the upper portion of the light tower in left field. There aren’t many players in Giants camp who can hit a ball that high, and one of them wasn’t on the main field Friday. 

The Giants held Hunter Pence back from batting practice because of soreness in his right intercostal area. Pence had to pull back late in his offseason program after feeling something during a workout. 

“He did all baseball activities except hitting (on the field),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We’re controlling his workload right now, is the best way to put it. He’s real close. He just didn’t hit today.”

Bochy said there’s not much concern about the ailment, and Pence has said — both at FanFest and this week — that he’s fine. The Giants are being rightfully cautious with a player who has played just 158 games the past two seasons. 

Pence did take part in the fielding portion of the day, and his group might have given an early clue as far as left field goes. The outfielders were split into groups of three, and Pence shagged fly balls with Denard Span and Jarrett Parker. As of today, that’s probably your opening day outfield. But Mac Williamson has six weeks to change it up. 

“It’s time for them to get that opportunity,” Bochy said of Parker and Williamson. “We’ll throw them out there as much as we can this spring.”

DID THAT MEAN SOMETHING? This is a new portion of the daily recap, and you could have thrown the Parker thing in here. Clearly it’s no accident that he’s the first one up with Pence and Span. By the same token, I’ll note that Morse spent his day at first base, not with the outfielders. Reporters talk to Bochy and Bobby Evans multiple times a day during spring training, but often times the action on the field tells the whole story. Morse will need to show he’s viable in left field to make the team, but the Giants haven’t said exactly how much they plan to play him out there. 

PROSPECT WATCH: There was a lot of talk about third base today after the Giants signed Aaron Hill to a minor league deal. Look, the reality here is that Conor Gillaspie is a clear frontrunner for that spot behind Eduardo Nuñez, as he should be, but Hill, Jimmy Rollins, Jae-gyun Hwang and others are going to get quite a bit of time this spring and one of them might make the team. 

So … where does that leave Christian Arroyo? The organization’s top hitting prospect wasn’t on the main field when a big group took grounders and the logjam will likely cost him at-bats this spring. To me, that’s the biggest problem with carrying so many 30-somethings, and Evans acknowledged that Arroyo will lose spring playing time. But, he said, the Giants don’t necessarily need to see his at-bats. 

“We know he can hit at this level,” Evans said. 

Arroyo was 10-for-18 last spring and he’s 14-for-26 in two big league camps. He’ll be in camp for most of spring training if not all of it, but if you’re coming down to Scottsdale next month, you might not see a whole lot him during games. 

ICYMI: Will link to this one more time … here’s my podcast with Tyler Beede, and here’s the iTunes page for the Giants Insider Podcast. Taped with two more players today, so be on the lookout for the next one. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Vince Coleman is now with the Giants as a roving baserunning instructor. You literally couldn’t come up with a better option. Coleman, a two-time All-Stars in the late 80s, stole more than 100 bases in three consecutive seasons. 

QUOTABLE: “It’s a power right-handed bat. He’s a solid second baseman. When they moved him to third base I didn’t know how good he would be, but against us he played great defense,” Bochy on Hill, who passed his physical late Thursday and joined camp Friday morning. 

Giants notes: Enchilada-eating roving instructor gets Stratton back on track

Giants notes: Enchilada-eating roving instructor gets Stratton back on track

NEW YORK — Long after retirement, Ryan Vogelsong is still taking part in reclamation projects for the Giants. 

Vogelsong, now a part-time roving instructor in the minors, worked with Chris Stratton when the young right-hander was sent back to Triple-A. Stratton was rotating too much with his delivery, causing his fastball to flatten out and cut back over the heart of the plate unexpectedly. For a pitcher who relies primarily on a fastball-curveball combination, the lack of command was hard to overcome. 

But Vogelsong has seen it all in this game, and his delivery shares traits with Stratton’s. He gave Stratton some tips to help smooth his mechanics. 

Whatever Vogelsong said, it certainly worked. Stratton returned to the big leagues Tuesday night and showed a lot of improvement from previous starts. Through six innings, Stratton had thrown just 71 pitches and not allowed a run. The Mets knocked him out in the seventh, but at 6 1/3 innings with two earned runs, this still qualified as Stratton’s best outing in two months. Stratton said he was able to make adjustments in-game using Vogelsong’s tips.

“It’s just nice to have some success up here and give our team a good chance to win,” Stratton said. 

The Giants fell 6-3 to the Mets after falling apart late, but manager Bruce Bochy was pleased with what he saw from Stratton. He said the staff will discuss whether Stratton stays to make another start in five days.

If Stratton does, perhaps he can duplicate an old tradition. He didn’t know about Vogelsong’s eating habits, but smiled when told of the history.

“I actually had enchiladas two nights ago,” he said. 

—- Bochy said he’ll go “with the hot hand” in left field going forward. For the most part over the past week, that has been Alen Hanson, not Austin Slater, who started at first base Tuesday night. It’s an odd arrangement. Slater, an outfielder, was only in the lineup because Brandon Belt was getting a night off and Buster Posey, originally scheduled to play first, caught 13 innings Monday night. Slater had two hits. 

—- Some relevant minor league news: Tyler Beede (groin strain) came off the disabled list and returned to Triple-A Sacramento. That should clear the way for a September call-up. The Giants moved Beede to the bullpen before he got hurt.

Giants squander lead, Tony Watson roughed up in loss to Mets

Giants squander lead, Tony Watson roughed up in loss to Mets


NEW YORK — The race for the White Flag picked up steam in the late innings Tuesday night. 

The Giants blew a late lead on another night where the lineup didn't show, falling 6-3 to the Mets at Citi Field. They have lost five of six and are 3-5 on a road trip that was supposed to keep them in the NL West race. This was a very familiar performance.

The Giants scored a pair early but then shut it down, and the Mets tied it with two in the seventh. Jose Reyes led off the eighth with a triple off Tony Watson, but for a moment it looked like the Mets would Met. They made two quick outs before Jeff McNeil lined a double to left. A few minutes later, Michael Conforto put the game away with a three-run homer. 

—- Watson was charged with four earned on three hits and a walk. He had allowed just three total runs in his previous 14 appearances and had not allowed four runs in an appearance all season long. 

—- The early scoring was exactly what the Giants envisioned with their offseason moves. Andrew McCutchen drew a leadoff walk in the first and Evan Longoria blasted a Steven Matz pitch into the left field seats. The homer was the 13th for Longoria. 

—- Before Longoria’s blast, the Giants had just two homers in their previous 115 innings. Longoria and McCutchen are the only Giants with homers on this road trip, which has reached eight games. 

—- Chris Stratton had his best start in two months, allowing two earned in 6 1/3 innings. Stratton needed just 71 pitches to get to six shutout innings, but was lifted after giving up three hits in the seventh.