SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Less than five minutes after Tim Hudson threw big compliments his way, Casey McGehee finally faltered, making his first error of the spring on a grounder that clanked off his back-hand attempt. It was a rare miscue for McGehee, who has not only hit .429 this spring, but also has looked more than capable of filling Pablo Sandoval’s shoes defensively at the hot corner.
McGehee has been solid all spring and flipped the switch to spectacular when Billy Hamilton, maybe the National League's fastest player, tried to put down a bunt with two down in the third. The new Giants third baseman charged and barehanded the ball in front of the mound before winging a strong throw to first to get the out on a bang-bang play.
It’s early, and McGehee hasn’t been tested often, but the Giants like what they’ve seen.
“I always thought he was pretty solid over there,” Hudson said. “He made a couple plays that not many fellas can make. I haven’t played with many guys who are able to make that play against a runner like that.”
Just a few pitches before the Hamilton bunt attempt, McGehee made a nice play on Irving Falu’s swinging bunt in front of third. We haven’t seen much of McGehee side-to-side but he appears to be quicker coming in than the previous guy.
"He's been good, I really think he's been good," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He comes in on the ball well, (goes) right or left, he's an accurate thrower. He's had a good spring on both sides. Pablo had a good year, but Casey is solid. He's a solid defender. He's a heads-up player and you like his anticipation there. He separates the two -- you can tell that when he goes out on defense that's where his focus is."
As for Hudson, this was easily his best day of the spring. He gave up one hit — a long Joey Votto homer — in 3 2/3 and struck out four. Votto, Falu and Devin Mesoraco went down swinging and Brandon Phillips looking.
“Everything felt in rhythm and everything felt on time,” he said. “(Pitching coach Dave Righetti) and I did some good work on the side in between starts (working) on some rhythm stuff and locating my fastball. Tonight is definitely the best I’ve felt since I’ve been here, for sure.”
Other notes from the day CBS idiotically shortened Robert Morris to Robert Mor instead of Bob Morris …
HEALTH WATCH: Andrew Susac (right wrist impingement) took swings on Thursday and could play in a game by early next week. Susac is far behind as far as at-bats go, so it’s possible the Giants will send him to minor league camp where he can do something tricky like lead off every inning of a game. Seems a decent bet that Susac catches Matt Cain if the righty goes down for another start against Triple-A kids.
Also, Juan Gutierrez (sore shoulder) is nearing a return after dealing with some shoulder soreness.
BELT IN LEFT? Brandon Belt knew what the question would be before reporters could ask. He follows us on Twitter, after all. So yes, Belt is just fine with playing some outfield if the Giants find themselves without Hunter Pence and Angel Pagan.
“I’m down for sure,” he said. “I’m here to do whatever they need. It’s not something I’m too worried about. If it’s something they want m to do, I’ll do it.”
Belt said he hasn’t been talked to yet, but if management decides this is a real option, he’ll start taking fly balls during BP. He hasn’t done so since 2011. He also said that he feels more comfortable in right than in left, so it’s possible the Giants can slide him out there and not have to move left fielder Nori Aoki back and forth. Lastly, Belt added that he still would like to pitch, something he makes known quite often.
“I should probably stop raising expectations,” he said. “If I do get on a mound, I’ll probably suck. I’ll probably be at like 70 mph.”
Let him pitch in a blowout, Bruce. #FreeBelt
PROSPECT WATCH: The Giants optioned Chris Heston, Cody Hall and Jarrett Parker to Triple-A and reassigned Mitch Delfino to minor league camp. Delfino really had a nice month here, and he looks like someone who at the very least might soon be big-league-ready with the glove. He had three hits and three walks in 14 plate appearances.
“I thought I would be a lot more nervous than I was when I got in there,” he said today. “You step in the box or play a half-inning and you kind of settle in.”
Delfino said he learned that he needs to be more picky with pitches and he needs to work on laying off pitches down in the zone. I assume he’s going down to Double-A Richmond this season, and you can bet the big league coaches will keep tabs on him. Delfino definitely opened some eyes this spring.
NOTEWORTHY: Jeremy Affeldt pitched a scoreless inning, lowering his spring ERA to 2.35 … Steven Okert had another scoreless inning; he's pretty much one of the last minor leaguers pitching ... Matt Duffy had an RBI single, raising his spring average to .393. Joe Panik had two Joe Paniks right up the middle and also scored twice.
QUOTABLE: Hunter Strickland was charged with four runs in the top of the ninth as the Giants blew a lead, but Bochy didn't think he threw poorly. Strickland was victimized by some tough luck, including an infield single, a seeing-eye single and a broken-bat hit.
"He started to walk off the mound and I said: Hey, wait a minute, you threw the ball well," Bochy said.