Spring Training Recap – March 8th

One thing to remember about Spring Training: If a player is doing well, it means big things for the season and is a reason to be excited. If a player is doing not so well, then it's just Spring Training and it doesn't mean a thing.

Game Results:

Thursday March 3rd: San Francisco 9, Los Angeles Angels 8
Friday, March 4th: Chicago Cubs 8, San Francisco 3
Saturday, March 5th: Chicago Cubs 8, San Francisco (ss) 2
Saturday, March 5th: San Francisco (ss) 5, San Diego (ss) 4 (10)
Sunday March 6th: San Francisco 10, Chicago Cubs 1
Monday, March 7th: San Francisco 6, Chicago White Sox 5

Top Performer: Pedro Feliz
5 Games, 8 for 16, 2 2B, 4 RBI

All offseason long, the Giants’ brass has been talking about Feliz being a lock to get 600 at-bats. It doesn’t look like Feliz wants them to change their minds. Feliz has been hotter than the spring Arizona sun, and his strength isn’t just his power, but his ability to get hits when needed. As Jon Miller pointed out, he’s not trying to do too much now, he’s just trying to poke the ball into the outfield for a base hit when needed. However, Feliz also has 3 errors in 5 games: 1 at third base and 2 at first. He’ll need to cut those down, and draw a few walks, but it’s hard not to like what he’s shown. But at least he’s had no errors in the outfield, where he may get even more playing time spelling the more experienced corner outfielders.

Most Disconcerting Performace: Armando Benitez
2 Games, 2 IP, 4 H, 4 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO

The signing of Benitez was one of the high points of the Giants’ offseason, and the photos of him working with the younger pitchers before games began were among the talk of fans, but his debut on the mound has been less than exciting so far. The ‘It’s Still Early’ line is in full effect here, and Benitez has quite a bit of time to turn things around before they matter. He’s not going to lose his job or playing time in spring training. Still, Giants fans are hungry for a 9th inning presence like his reputation, and may not be very patient.

Position Battle Update:

HOT - Todd Linden – 4 for 12, 1 2B, 1 BB, 4 RBI, 2 R – Linden, in addition to hitting, has had a few chances to show off his defense, making sliding catches and throwing out a runner at the plate on Monday. Jason Ellison still has the inside track because of his ability to play CF so well, but his 1 for 8 performance doesn’t shine so much.

COLD - Brad Hennessey & David Aardsma – Hennessey’s performance in the first game of spring training (0.2 IP, 3 ER, 1 H, 3 BB, 1 HBP) was tempered by his second showing on Monday (2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 2 BB, 1 SO), but his control issues continue to indicate a trip to Fresno to work on it, as well as a still undetermined role. He could start in Fresno, rather than relieve in San Francisco. Aardsma, however, has only had one appearance (1 IP, 3 R, 3 H, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1 WP), and while he didn’t seem to have control problems outside of a wild pitch, he was still very hittable. The battle for the bullpen spots are competitive, and both Hennessey and Aardsma will have to work to catch up.

Young Guns:

Those who worry about the state of the Giants in a post-Barry Bonds world need only look at the kids who got chances to show off in the first few spring training games. On Friday, Jesse Foppert looked completely recovered from Tommy John surgery with 2 innings and 2 strikeouts without allowing a baserunner. On Saturday, it was Merkin Valdez who threw 2 innings without a baserunner, except he only struck out 1. And on Monday, Matt Cain had the broadcasters gushing with a 2 inning performance of his own, striking out 1 and giving up a triple on a ball that got by right fielder Moises Alou. With Jerome Williams and Noah Lowry already in the rotation, and other prospects in the wings, the future of the Giants has some very good young pitchers to be it’s foundation.

Only in Spring Training:

On a fly ball in Saturday’s game against the Padres. Commentators Jon Miller and Duane Kuiper commented how professional prospect Fred Lewis looked jogging in, flipping down the glasses, and looking up for the ball. Unfortunately, by the time he did this, the ball landed 20 feet away behind him and to the right!

Meanwhile, Monday’s game against the Cubs started 4 minutes earlier than the listed start time of 12:05 Pacific Time, causing KNBR to have to start the broadcast 2 pitches into the game, without any of the pregame intros, lineups, or commercials. Miller took it in stride, commenting that starter Kirk Rueter “has always been a fast worker, but this is ridiculous!”

Top prospect Matt Cain has always had high expectations, but it’s hard to top the slip several news sites made following his spring training debut on Monday. Instead of his name being listed next to his pitching line, the name attached to it was “B Bonds” on most news sites. If this is an indication of 7 MVPs (or even just 7 Cy Youngs) to come, I don’t think Giant fans would be too upset.

Love me, hate me, idolize me, or laugh at me, just don't ignore me. Let me know what you think: write me at kevin@ugcfilms.com .

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