SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – There is a strong feeling in Giants camp that their everyday lineup this season could be their most powerful and productive since Barry Bonds occupied a locker.
But they have to stay healthy. And that starts at the top.
Neither Angel Pagan nor Marco Scutaro were on the field for Sunday’s workout. Pagan’s back stiffened up during a pre-workout meeting and begged out for the day. And Scutaro, although he’s done a little bit of baseball work on a back field, has been mostly limited to the trainer’s room thus far this spring.
Pagan said the back was “nothing” and he expected to take part in Monday’s activities. As for Scutaro, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the veteran second baseman and No.2 hitter has made progress in his back rehab work and could be mixed into the regular on-field activities in another week.
The Giants have a lot of lineup flexibility with Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence and Michael Morse. Bochy could hit them 3-7 in almost any combination.
But there aren’t so many options in the leadoff spot should Pagan go down – and he’s played 125 games just twice in his career. So even though the back is “nothing,” it’s something to watch.
Bochy and GM Brian Sabean are scheduled to meet Monday with MLB vice president Joe Torre to go over procedures and policies for the new replay policy.
Word I’m getting is that the union will approve some form of the catcher collision rule by Monday as well. The clock is ticking here because managers and coaches need to know how to instruct their players before exhibition games begin.
Cardinals manager Mike Matheny already has his runners sliding into the plate and his catchers working on swipe tags. But Bochy told me he didn’t want to start instructing players until he had specifics of what the rule will be and how enforcement will work.
Regardless, Buster Posey has been under orders to do only swipe-style tags ever since Scott Cousins bulldozed him in 2011.
Yusmeiro Petit will start Wednesday’s Cactus League opener against the A’s, Bochy said. The Giants have an oddly timed day off Thursday, so they’ll wait until Friday to begin lining up their rotation for Opening Day.
Prospect hounds will be interested to know there will be a three-inning intrasquad scrimmage on Tuesday at Scottsdale Stadium, beginning at noon. No charge to sit in the stands and see a list of pitchers that is scheduled to include Kyle Crick, Derek Law, Clayton Blackburn, Ty Blach, Jose Casilla and Brett Bochy.
Perhaps the most impressive group to throw live batting practice was the visa boys, Santiago Casilla and Jose De Paula, who threw cheddar even though they just arrived in camp a couple days ago because of a paperwork delay.
De Paula, who pitched for the Padres’ Double-A club last year, is a left-hander who bears watching. He and right-hander Eric Cordier received major league contracts and coveted 40-man roster spots even though they didn’t have any major league service time.
De Paula sawed Brandon Crawford’s bat in half lengthwise with one inside fastball.
Crawford said the bat did its job. Behind the cage, hitting coach Hensley Meulens had just said, “runner on second, nobody out.”
“I got the runner over for the pitcher,” Crawford said with a smirk.
Tyler Colvin joined the major league groups for batting practice – another sign that he’s going to get every chance to crack the Opening-Day roster.
He’ll get a lower number soon enough. He was issued No. 88 but his jersey will take a few days to arrive. He’s got a blank No.91 for now.
Colvin called the football number a reason to be motivated.
“Ha,” right-hander George Kontos said. “They told me that about No.70 and look at me now.”
Kontos still wears No.70.