Giants

Samardzija, Melancon to be added as World Baseball Classic alternates

Samardzija, Melancon to be added as World Baseball Classic alternates

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- If Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford help Team USA reach the later rounds of the World Baseball Classic, they may be joined by a pair of teammates.

Right-handers Mark Melancon and Jeff Samardzija will be added to the roster, CSN Bay Area has learned, although the Giants are unsure about what the exact level of participation would be. The players got the call from Joe Torre on Thursday, and Melancon said he could join the United States as soon as the second round in San Diego. Conversations with Samardzija centered on making him an option for the semifinal round, which starts March 20 in Los Angeles. 

"It wouldn't be a problem," Samardzija said. "I feel good."

While the Giants have not always been keen on their pitchers participating in the March tournament, Melancon and Samardzija have been two of the most consistent pitchers in camp. Melancon was perfect in his first three outings and he hasn't allowed a run in six appearances. Samardzija has allowed four runs in three starts, and his stuff looks to be in midseason form. His pitch count got into the 60s the last time out, and he said any WBC action would come right at the part of his spring where he usually peaks and then starts to wind down for the regular season. 

Melancon said he was asked to pitch in the tournament late last year, but he originally turned Team USA down because he did not want to leave during his first camp with the Giants. "It didn't feel right at the time," he said. Like Samardzija, Melancon said he's excited about the second chance. He had a long conversation with general manager Bobby Evans on Friday morning. 

"What an opportunity," Melancon said. "I'm really thankful the Giants are on board and they understand the opportunity there to be able to represent your country. We're all on the same page and comfortable with it. It's all about communication and having these guys back me up has been great." 

The Giants have one more right-hander who may join the tournament. Johnny Cueto, who is starting Saturday's Cactus League game, has yet to make a final decision on his participation. Cueto has told teammates that he is strongly leaning toward not playing, but his interest was said to be rekindled a bit as he watched recent WBC games and his potential teammates on the Dominican Republic team.

Giants blow 4-2 lead, fall to Cardinals on Tyler O'Neill's walk-off

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AP

Giants blow 4-2 lead, fall to Cardinals on Tyler O'Neill's walk-off

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The Cardinals made four errors Saturday and had trouble with several other balls. The Giants couldn’t take advantage.

Cardinals right fielder Tyler O’Neill hit a walk-off homer off reliever Mark Melancon in the bottom of the 10th at Busch Stadium, handing the Giants a 5-4 loss. They’ve lost three straight after a good start to their final trip. 

The Giants had runners on the corners and one out in the top of the 10th, but second baseman Alen Hanson struck out. After an intentional walk of catcher Nick Hundley, Right fielder Austin Slater struck out to end the threat. 

—- The Cardinals butchered a couple of bloops in the seventh and the Giants took full advantage. With a runner on first, Hanson and starting catcher Aramís Garcia hit bloops that Cardinals outfielders didn’t handle cleanly. Starter Dereck Rodriguez followed with a single and outfielder Gregor Blanco made it 4-2 when he beat out a double-play ball. 

—- Rodriguez was cruising but he walked the lead off batter in the bottom of the seventh and then gave up a two-run shot to catcher Yadier Molina. It was the first non-solo homer allowed by Rodriguez this season. The rookie was charged with four runs in what could have been the final start of his season. 

—- Joe Panik isn’t a thumper, but his first career start at first base had plenty of positives. Panik  had three hits and looked fine defensively. 

—- Garcia bounced back nicely from a four-strikeout night. He had four hits, including a big one in the seventh inning rally.

Joe Panik playing first base for first time in Giants career

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USATSI

Joe Panik playing first base for first time in Giants career

For the first 519 games of his major league career, Joe Panik has taken the field at second base.

On Saturday in St. Louis, that will all change. Giants manager Bruce Bochy put out his lineup and the Gold Glove second baseman is playing first base.

Even in the minor leagues, Panik only played second base and shortstop.

So who's playing second base for the Giants against the Cardinals? Alen Hanson.

With Brandon Belt, Buster Posey and Pablo Sandoval done for the season, Bochy has been giving several guys a shot at first base. Austin Slater, Aramis Garcia, Chase d'Arnaud and Ryder Jones have all started at least one game at first base.