SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Manager Bruce Bochy often stops Brandon Belt before games and playfully asks, "What are you going to do today?" Belt has a go-to response.
"I joke that I'll hit for the cycle," he said, smiling.
Belt was a triple away when he stepped to the plate in the seventh inning at Salt River Fields on Friday and crushed a Miguel Batista offering to deep center. The result wasn't a triple, rather the second homer of the day for Belt, who is tied for the Cactus League lead with six homers.
"My timing is on point right now, and I feel like I'm mechanically sound," Belt said. "I'm hitting balls hard that I should be hitting hard."
Belt has been on a tear since the day he reported. He left Friday's 11-6 win over the Colorado Rockies with a .439 average, 16 RBIs and 12 runs scored in 18 games.
"He's had a great spring," Bochy said. "The approach up there is quiet. He has so much confidence going."
For Belt, who tore through the minors, success has always been as much mental as it is physical. He has alternated torrid streaks with wicked slumps, and he admitted Friday that he now doesn't think he was properly prepared when he went up to the plate the past two seasons. But Belt, 24, feels he has turned a corner.
"There are going to be some tough times in there," Belt said. "But I'm not the same player, from a mental aspect. I know what to expect now. I'm going in with a lot more confidence this year. It's getting close to Opening Day and you want to stay as locked in as possible. I'm ready to get started."
Opening Day will take the Giants to Los Angeles, where Belt made his major league debut in 2011 against childhood foe Clayton Kershaw, now the Dodgers' ace. Belt has always had more success against left-handers than right-handers, and he showed Friday that his new approach at the plate won't alter his ability to hit southpaws. Three of Belt's four hits were against left-handed pitchers, including a mammoth home run against Colorado's Christian Friedrich.
"That's one of those things that I think you take personally as a left-handed hitter," Belt said. "I'll show them that I can (hit them)."
Regardless of what he has shown in the desert, and what he might show in the season's opening weeks, Bochy said he has no plans to move Belt away from the No. 6 spot in the everyday lineup. But the manager did say he has considered hitting Belt third or cleanup on days when Pablo Sandoval or Buster Posey need a break.
A's 4, White Sox 4 in Phoenix – Paul Konerko hit a two-run single with two outs in the top of the ninth inning to pull the Chicago White Sox even with Oakland, and the teams settled for a tie.
The White Sox took a 2-0 lead against right-hander Jarrod Parker in the fifth inning on a run-scoring infield hit by Tyler Flowers and a single to right field by Gordon Beckham.
The A's took a 4-2 lead with four runs in the sixth. Yoenis Cespedes drove in a run with a double, Derek Norris and Brandon Moss had RBI singles and the fourth run scored on a wild pitch.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.