The Michael Morse, first baseman era in San Francisco starts today with Morse getting his first start there in the absence of Brandon Belt. Morse came up as an infielder but has played just eight games at first base since 2011. Giants manger Bruce Bochy said his advice to Morse today was: "Just go out there and enjoy it."
"I think he’s eager to do this for a while," Bochy said, adding that while Belt recovers from surgery on his broken left thumb it’ll be mostly Morse at first base with a few starts likely also going to Buster Posey and possibly Hector Sanchez. "He has good hands and I think he’ll be just fine there."
Morse took some reps at first in spring training and said he’ll "be getting more and more" in the coming days. "I’m not trying to take anybody’s position or anything like that," he said. "I’m just trying to fill in until the big guy’s healthy."
For the record, that’s the 6-foot-5, 245-pound Morse referring to Belt as the "big guy." Said shortstop Brandon Crawford of getting used to having Morse at first: "He’s a pretty big target. So I should be all right."
Here’s the full Giants lineup tonight, with Buster Posey getting a night off:
And the Atlanta Braves’ lineup (note the No. 8 hitter):
LF Justin Upton
CF B.J. Upton
"I’ve had a couple other broken bones from baseball and you don’t forget that feeling," Belt said. "I was hoping I could kind of stay in there and run around a little bit and maybe the pain would subside, but it just kept getting worse."
Bochy reportedly said the tentative timeline for Belt is six weeks -- four before the pins are removed, then two weeks of Belt working his way back into playing shape. Belt said it’s too early to say whether that’s accurate: "We’ll know more after they take the pins out," he said.
Until then, Belt’s promising start is put on pause. Despite a brief but terrible slump before the Giants’ recent road trip, Belt is batting .264 with a team-leading nine home runs and 18 RBIs on the year. The timing of an injury is obviously never good, but Belt said the fact that this one came when he was showing signs of getting out of that slump makes it "a little frustrating."
"But I tried to get out of the way (of the pitch), I can’t really control what happened there," he said. "So you just kind of make the best of it. I’ll do what I can to keep getting better over the next six weeks or so."
That said, Bochy added that Blanco needs a start and Angel Pagan will likely get a day off Wednesday, so expect Blanco in the lineup for the series finale.