LOS ANGELES – Brandon Belt put on a uniform and technically was available to pinch hit Tuesday night, but he was far from recovered from the rather nasty stomach bug that hit him just before Monday’s season opener.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he hoped Belt could start Wednesday against Dodgers right-hander Josh Beckett, but it was far from a certainty. In fact, Bochy second-guessed himself for letting Belt start on Monday, when he looked overmatched at the plate against Clayton Kershaw.
It was Opening Day, Belt wanted to play and Bochy relented.
Joaquin Arias more than met expectations while making a rare start at first base (his first since 2010, when he started five games there for the Texas Rangers). Arias reached base three times, he had an RBI single that accounted for the game’s first run in the fourth inning and he picked four throws as if he’s been sleeping with a first baseman’s glove for years.
(In case you were wondering, I asked, and yes, Arias has his own first baseman’s glove. He isn’t borrowing one.)
“Arias had a great game,” Bochy said. “It takes 25 guys. The first baseman gets sick and he steps up and has a great ballgame.”
I’d imagine Belt and Brandon Crawford can’t wait to face a right-hander. They’ll finally get one in Beckett. Crawford hasn’t been able to carry over his hot-hitting spring, but he did manage to make a productive out with a grounder to first base in the seventh that moved Arias and Andres Torres into scoring position.
Andres Torres had an interesting at-bat in the seventh inning. After Arias led off the inning by reaching on an error, I expected that Torres might look to shorten up and go the other way or maybe even sacrifice bunt. But then I remembered that Crawford was on deck (a lefty-lefty matchup), and then the pitcher’s spot was coming up after that.
Torres took a huge rip at one pitch that ended up in catcher A.J. Ellis’ glove. Then he made an adjustment and stayed on a pitch, sending it to right field for a single.
This really will be different for Torres to hit in the No.7 position. He gets into trouble when he “gets too big” at the plate, but there will be situations down in the order when it’s not a bad idea to take a dead-red swing.
He told me he’s jumping just a little too much from the right side, but he felt he was just a tick away from making an adjustment.
It’ll be Gregor Blanco in the lineup on Wednesday, by the way, as the Dodgers start a right-hander. Buster Posey is catching Tim Lincecum, too.
Sergio Romo’s first save was not highly leveraged and he didn’t bring any unneeded stress to the ninth inning. It’s easy to forget that Romo is entering his first season as the primary closer, and so it was no small thing to get off to a good start with a 1-2-3 inning.
I asked him about the double-arm pump after the game.
“I’m a very emotional person to begin with,” he said. “Just to contribute was huge for me. Just any way to be part of happiness here, I’ll do whatever. I’m just glad to contribute.”
In case you missed it earlier today, the Giants claimed right-hander Hunter Strickland off waivers from the Pirates, which means he’s been added to the 40-man roster. The Giants had one vacancy on the 40-man, but no longer. So if they want to purchase the contract of, say, Heath Hembree, they’d need to make an additional move to clear space.
Strickland, 24, was part of the deal that sent Adam LaRoche to the Red Sox as a rental in 2009. He’s from Zebulon, Ga., which is the county seat of Pike County, if you didn’t know, which was named after …. wait for it …. Zebulon Pike.
Fun fact: Just up the road from Zebulon is the pretty little town of Senoia, where, honest to goodness, you can visit the Baggarly Bros. Buggy Museum.
I’ve been. It’s awesome.