SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- After allowing a record six homers last postseason, the last thing Hunter Strickland wanted to do in his debut was allow another bomb. Well, he did. Oakland’s Jason Pridie hit a two-run shot in the eighth inning.
“It probably was a frustrating time for him out there,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s working hard. He made some mistakes there, but that’s why we’re here. This is the first day. He did work on secondary pitches which is what he needs to do.”
The Giants want Strickland to tighten up his slider so hitters can't sit on his 100 mph heater. As he did that Tuesday, he became the victim of some bad luck early in the inning that kept him on the mound longer than he should have been. After the leadoff hitter drew a walk, Max Muncy hit a hard chopper to short that looked like a double-play. Brandon Hicks dropped the ball as he touched the bag and turned to first, so the Giants got just one out. Muncy scored two batters later when Pridie hit a two-out shot deep to right.
Bochy thought Strickland “kept good poise through it all” and noted that the Giants made several mental mistakes — like the dropped ball at second — while losing their Cactus League opener 9-4 at Hohokam Stadium. “We’re getting the cobwebs out,” he said. Even Madison Bumgarner wasn’t immune, giving up four runs in 1 2/3.
[RELATED: Bumgarner roughed up in spring debut]
I think Buster shattered his confidence,” Bochy joked, referencing the show Buster Posey put on over the weekend when he faced Bumgarner in live BP.
Other notes from the Cactus League opener...
THE NEW GUYS: Nori Aoki batted leadoff and saw eight pitches in his first at-bat, grounding out to second. Casey McGehee also worked a 3-2 count before drawing a walk. That had to please the front office; part of the reason the Giants liked both guys this offseason was their ability to have good at-bats and lengthen the lineup. Aoki was 1-for-3 in his debut and McGehee had the walk and an RBI groundout.
“He’s a tough out,” Bochy said of Aoki. “We talked about this — he’s got that knack for fouling off good pitches and wearing out pitchers. He doesn’t strike out and he’s got a good eye at the plate. He’s a great addition.”
Speaking of the new guys, new third-base coach Roberto Kelly passed his first test. Kelly, the replacement for the retired Tim Flannery, waved Jarrett Parker home on Hicks’ double to the left-field corner with two outs in the ninth. Parker scored a split-second ahead of the throw.
STOCK UP: Adam Duvall is kind of a forgotten man in the fight for backup jobs, mostly because the other infielders vying for the job can play middle infield spots in addition to third. But Duvall made an early statement, hitting a 2-0 pitch onto the grass hill underneath the scoreboard in left.
CAMP BATTLE: Who will back up Posey? Andrew Susac is the favorite, but Hector Sanchez will get a chance this spring to win his old job? Sanchez missed an opportunity to fire an early shot in the eighth, grounding into a double play with the bases loaded and no outs.
NOTABLE: Daniel Carbonell, a 23-year-old Cuban outfielder, grounded out to short in his first at-bat for the Giants … The late innings gave a reminder of how far Joe Panik has come in the past year. Last spring, he was one of the young guys finishing out games and hoping to make an impression; on Tuesday he was one of three players who walked across the field after the top of the sixth and got to head home early … Jean Machi, one of three right-handed relievers out of options (along with George Kontos and Erik Cordier), pitched a 1-2-3 sixth inning.
LIGHTER SIDE: Bench coach Ron Wotus likes to have a little fun with his players when posting the day’s schedule. Today’s listed lunch: Possum kebabs.
QUOTABLE: “I thought it was going to be the bases loaded again when I came in.” — Brett Bochy, who came on in the second with a runner on first and two outs. Bruce Bochy brought Brett in with the bases loaded in his MLB debut last September, and did the same thing in a spring game a couple years ago.