Bay Area Baseball

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March 11, 2013
Giants notes: Torres lets loose in return, Bumgarner sharp

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Andres Torres returned to the Giants' lineup today in their 2-1 win over the Rangers and showed the oblique strain that kept him out of games for the past two weeks didn't drain him of his strength.

Torres went hitless in four at-bats but drove a ball to the warning track off Yu Darvish in the first inning. Then, after striking out with the bases loaded to end the fourth, Torres snapped his bat over his knee in frustration.

"My knee's fine," Torres said afterward. "The bat is broke."

It was quite the outburst from Torres, who said he'd never mistreated a bat that way on the field during a game before, and that his emotions got away from him after he chased a high fastball for strike three.

"Sometimes you have to let it go," Torres said. "Not all the time, but once in a while."

More importantly, Torres said he didn't feel pain in his oblique muscle during his at-bats, and that he just needs to see more pitches to get his timing back. Torres had played in just two games with three plate appearances before getting hurt late last month. So his fourth and fifth trips to the plate in a game this spring came against a 16-game winner from last season in Darvish -- not exactly a comfortable way to ease back into things.

Torres is expected to share time with Gregor Blanco in left field this season but started in center Monday with Angel Pagan still playing in the World Baseball Classic. Blanco, who has also been playing a lot of center in Pagan's absence, did not travel with the Giants to Surprise.

"He needs some playing time," manager Bruce Bochy said of Torres. "We need to get him out there as much as we can without wearing him down."

A couple of the Giants said they were a little taken aback by the bat-breaking display from the typically cheerful Torres.

"That was impressive, wasn't it?" catcher Buster Posey said, chuckling. "That's a strong guy, to say the least."

* Madison Bumgarner had his best outing of the spring, allowing one hit in four scoreless innings and striking out four. Bumgarner said he's still mostly indifferent toward results but that it was good to have a clean outing. He threw 64 pitches, 43 for strikes, and said his changeup "was the best it's been."

"It's getting time now, at the end of spring, where you want to start being more game-ready instead of just working on certain stuff and all that," Bumgarner said. "You want to be able to get guys out."

He wasn't dealing with a lineup of minor-leaguers, either. The Rangers started most of their regulars, including Ian Kinsler, Lance Berkman and Adrian Beltre. Mitch Moreland was the only batter to get a hit off Bumgarner, doubling in the third inning.

Bumgarner said the timing of his delivery still felt "a little off" at times. Posey, though, said Bumgarner "moved the ball to both sides of the plate as well as I've seen him this spring." So while the left-hander was typically laconic about his outing, it was a step forward for early March.

Bumgarner was also asked to compare the rotations of the Giants and the Dodgers, who open the season against each other April 1. Bumgarner would likely be in line to oppose the Dodgers' Zack Greinke, who has reportedly been shut down for a few days after being diagnosed Monday with elbow inflammation. The Dodgers signed Greinke for a record $147 million last winter to join Clayton Kershaw in a rotation that could also feature any mix of Chad Billingsley, Josh Beckett, Korean lefty Hyun-Jin Ryu, Chris Capuano and Ted Lilly.

"I don't know, it sounds like a pretty good staff (in Los Angeles), but I mean we've got a pretty good staff," Bumgarner said. "I've said it plenty of times, I think our staff's as good as anybody's out there at times and at times we're not. Everybody's going to go through rough patches throughout the season. But I'll take our guys anytime."

* Posey had an adventurous at-bat against Darvish in the third inning. First he had to duck out of the way of a high, inside fastball. Two pitches later, in a 1-2 count, Darvish threw him a 62 mph curveball that Posey watched drop in for a ball. Posey then hit the next pitch on a line to right but was robbed of a hit by Mike Olt on a headfirst dive.

Darvish struck Posey out swinging on a slider in his first at-bat. Posey also struck out on a slider from Joe Nathan in the fifth inning.

"Saw my share of sliders today, which is good," Posey said.

"Those are the (at-bats) you want to get in the spring," he said. "You want to see guys' best stuff."

* Tony Abreu, who began camp as a candidate for the utility infield role, started at third base and went 1-for-2 in his spring debut. Abreu has been battling a strained quad and limped noticeably running out a single. He had ice over his left knee afterward and said his leg "hurts today, but tomorrow, every day, better."

Abreu, whom the Giants picked up on waivers from the Royals in February, said he plays second base, shortstop and third and is most comfortable at second. He simply hasn't had much of an opportunity to show it so far this spring. Abreu played in 22 games with the Royals last season but spent most of the year with their Triple-A team in Omaha, where he batted .322 in 103 games, mostly at shortstop.

Bochy said it's "doubtful" Abreu will play in the Giants' 7 p.m. game Tuesday against the Padres. "We'll see how he comes out of this," Bochy said.

* Bochy said it was a "good day for the staff" today, as five pitchers held the Rangers' lineup to a run on six hits.

Chad Gaudin, making a hard bid for a long relief role, gave up the lone run on an RBI single by Kinsler in the fifth but came back out to pitch a scoreless sixth. Javier Lopez pitched the seventh, Heath Hembree the eighth and Dan Runzler recorded the save.

Hembree, pitching for the first time since allowing four runs in one inning against the Indians last Thursday, struck out the side in the eighth. All three went down swinging at 94-mph fastballs.

"Good for him to bounce back," Bochy said. "That's what you look for."

* The Giants will host Japan's WBC team in a scrimmage Thursday at 1 p.m. at Scottsdale Stadium. Yusmeiro Petit is scheduled to pitch for the Giants.

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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