Bay Area Baseball

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April 21, 2013
Giants' Bochy sits down with Belt about early struggles

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he sat down with first baseman Brandon Belt for "a while" this morning to talk with Belt about his early struggles at the plate. After a torrid spring training, Belt is hitting .183 with no home runs and is 5 for his last 24. Likely contributing to the slow start was the stomach virus Belt caught before the opening series, which caused him to lose about 10 pounds and sapped his strength for a while.

"We talked for a while today, just about a couple things between Brandon and I, but part of it is it's natural for these guys to press a little bit and try to get hits," Bochy said. "You can't try to get hits in this game, you've just got to get a quality at-bat, try to get some good swings off, and good things happen."

Belt is not in the lineup today against Padres left-hander Eric Stults, with Joaquin Arias starting at first base. Bochy said that while it isn't a case of Belt being benched, he might give Belt a few more days off with the Giants facing more lefties in upcoming series.

"We need to get Arias out there," Bochy said. "So he (Belt) may miss a couple games."

Belt is no stranger to periodic slumps -- most recently he hit .186 last July before heating up in the second half -- and has acknowledged some hits to his confidence. Earlier this season he said he felt better equipped with more experience to handle a slow start. Bochy, though, said today it's natural for frustration to creep in as a slump prolongs.

"I'll say this, hitters, it would be so much better if they didn't have a number or a stat up there (on the scoreboard)," Bochy said. "It's human nature to look at that, and that's still somewhat a bar of success, where you're at ... and then you start try to get the hits up.

"But it's important that you don't get concerned with the results as much as the at-bat itself, the quality of the at-bat, the quality of the swing, and after that you've done all you can.

"He's hit balls hard at guys, and that's going to happen. But you also have to remind yourself too of how many more at-bats are left. You can't do it one game, one at-bat. Sometimes it can be a slow process to get to where you want to be."

Bochy said Belt might be falling into that tendency of trying to make up lost ground too quickly. But he hopes Belt's experience digging himself out of previous slumps will help him deal with this one.

* The flipside of resting Belt is that it gives Bochy an opportunity to play Arias, who has had just 12 at-bats so far this season (he's 3-for-12). Seven of Arias' 12 appearances so far have come as a late defensive replacement, including in last night's 2-0 win over the Padres.

"He needs his playing time," Bochy said. "We just ran through a string of right-handers there, which cut back his playing time, but we'll see some lefties. He'll get some at-bats, which is going to help him out."

Bochy said Arias is "one of those players who seems to be OK with sitting a few games and maintaining his timing," but it's important to keep Arias involved.

* Arias entered Saturday's game for Pablo Sandoval after Sandoval fouled a ball off his right ankle in the seventh inning. Sandoval is in the lineup today playing third and Bochy said Sandoval is "fine" and didn't undergo any tests on the ankle that he knew of.

"I'm sure it's a little sore, but he's good to go," Bochy said.

-- 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.
Email: mkawahara@sacbee.com.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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