Belt has ‘successful’ surgery; Sanchez gets a turn at first

Published: Tuesday, May. 13, 2014 - 6:11 pm

SAN FRANCISCO -- Another day, another Giants first baseman. Brandon Belt had surgery to insert two pins in his broken left thumb this morning, with the Giants terming the procedure "successful." Tonight, it’s Hector Sanchez getting his first major-league start at first base.

Is manager Bruce Bochy comfortable with Sanchez at first?

"Well, I better be," Bochy said. "I put him out there."

Sanchez played one game at first base in spring training on a day when Belt was sick, and actually looked pretty good, later joking to reporters it was a "piece of cake." Bochy said Michael Morse will still get the "lion’s share" of starts at first in Belt’s absence, but when the Giants face a left-handed starter, you’re likely to see Morse in left field and somebody else -- Buster Posey, Sanchez or Joaquin Arias -- at first.

Sanchez gets the start tonight with Bochy wanting to keep his bat in the lineup. So far in May, Sanchez is hitting .375 (9-for-24) after batting .171 in April.

"He’s earned this extra play," Bochy said. "So hopefully it goes OK there at first."

If Sanchez is nervous at all, it isn’t showing. He said fielding grounders should be just like blocking balls behind the plate. "What’s the difference?" he said, grinning.

One difference: Sanchez, who has been taking grounders at first occasionally since this spring, originally didn’t have a first baseman’s mitt. So catching prospect Andrew Susac gave him one -- a black Wilson A2000.

Here’s the Giants’ full lineup tonight against left-hander Mike Minor:

CF Pagan

RF Pence

C Posey

LF Morse

3B Sandoval

1B Sanchez

2B Hicks

SS Crawford

P Vogelsong

And the Braves’ lineup against Vogelsong:

RF Heyward

LF J. Upton

1B Freeman

C Gattis

3B Johnson

CF B.J. Upton

SS Simmons

P Minor

2B Pastornicky

* Bochy said he didn’t know much more about Belt’s surgery than that, "He’s doing fine. … Put the pins in there and he’s doing well."

The Giants have put Belt’s timeline tentatively at six weeks -- four before the pins are removed, then two for Belt getting back into playing staff. Bochy today acknowledged it could be "a little longer." Belt, meanwhile, will mostly be around the team while waiting for the pins to be removed, which Bochy said will be a good opportunity for Belt to view the game from a different point of view and possibly use it as a "learning experience."

Monday, Bochy said he had called Belt and not heard back. Did he get a call back today? "No," Bochy said. "But I did tweet him."

* This shouldn’t come as a surprise, but Bochy said he’ll continue starting Brandon Hicks at second base on a near-daily basis for the near future. Hicks is batting just .204 but does have seven home runs and has played good defense.

"He’s earned that," Bochy said. "He’s gotten some big hits for us."

That, and the plans for first base, all mean playing time for Arias will continue to be limited. Bochy said he does have to find at-bats somewhere for Arias, so expect him to get the occasional start at first or second.

* For Vogelsong, tonight is about trying to keep a good thing going. After posting a 7.71 ERA in his first four starts, Vogelsong has allowed just two runs in 20 1/3 innings in his last three starts. He faced the Braves on May 3 in Atlanta and allowed one run on five hits in six innings.

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

Read more articles by Matt Kawahara

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