Giants trying not to dwell on poor spring
Team ranks near bottom of most categories in exhibition play
TEMPE, Ariz. -- The Giants' excess of springtime defeats has become too huge to ignore.Conventional wisdom dictates, and history illustrates, that Spring Training statistics and records have virtually no bearing on what happens in the regular season. During March, pitchers focus on getting their work in, not getting outs. Hitters lack the timing that sustains them through the summer. Efficiency isn't yet routine. Yet even from this perspective, the Giants' performance prompts concern. They dropped to 6-17-2, the worst exhibition mark in the Major Leagues, as they were outhit 17-4 on Thursday and fell, 8-1, to the Los Angeles Angels. San Francisco must win four of its final nine exhibitions, not including next Wednesday's date against Triple-A Fresno, to reach double figures in victories -- a level that 16 other teams already achieved entering Thursday. These observations legitimately can be greeted with a collective "So what?" But with the Giants embarking upon their transition to the post-Barry Bonds era, they're striving for respectability. And a .261 winning percentage isn't respectable. "If we walk into L.A. on Opening Day and do what we're doing now, we're going to get boat-raced," left-hander Jack Taschner said. "We want to go into L.A. and set a tone for the season. That's the place to do it." Manager Bruce Bochy has repeated that his team, bereft of stars, must excel at "the little things" to be competitive. These days, Bochy said, "we're not doing them. Like I said, that'll be the difference between us being a good ballclub and mediocre. Right now, we aren't even playing decent ball. At this point, we're making too many mistakes." Those lapses are multidimensional. The pitching staff, the backbone of any club, has compiled a 7.11 ERA, worst in the Majors. Eugenio Velez, who's so promising offensively but hasn't mastered a defensive position, botched a grounder at third base for the Giants' 30th error. They led all of baseball in this dubious category entering Thursday's game. San Francisco's .253 batting average is the lowest among the Cactus League's 12 teams. "We need to turn it up here. There's no getting around it," Bochy said. "We're actually getting in good situations; we're not getting a hit or getting them in." Thursday, Dan Ortmeier grounded into a second-inning double play with runners on first and second and nobody out. Two innings later, Velez reached third with one out but was erased at home on Aaron Rowand's fielder's-choice grounder. Interestingly, several Giants who will occupy prominent roles have hit capably, including Ray Durham (.436), Bengie Molina (.381), Randy Winn (.357), Rich Aurilia (.333) and Dave Roberts (.317). But injuries and typical Spring Training substitution patterns have limited the projected regulars' playing time alongside each other.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.