San Francisco Giants

Giants pregame notes: Giants’ Morse shifts to first base as Belt prepares for surgery

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:

CF Pagan

RF Pence

3B Sandoval

1B Morse

C Sanchez

SS Crawford

LF Colvin

2B Hicks

P Lincecum

And the Atlanta Braves’ lineup (note the No. 8 hitter):

RF Heyward

LF Justin Upton

1B Freeman

3B Johnson

C Laird

CF B.J. Upton

SS Simmons

P Floyd

2B Pena

• Belt, who is scheduled to have surgery to insert two pins into the broken thumb Tuesday, was in the Giants’ clubhouse this afternoon and seemed in good spirits, all things considered. He said immediately after Paul Maholm’s pitch hit him Friday night, he "knew it wasn’t good," though he remained in the game briefly.

"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’s Tyler Colvin making his first start in left field tonight. The Giants earlier today optioned Juan Perez to Triple-A to make room for reliever David Huff on the roster. So Bochy had a choice between Colvin and Gregor Blanco starting in left field, and said he went with Colvin because Colvin has been playing regularly in Fresno, and Blanco has been struggling some.

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.

• Lincecum will try to rebound from his May 7 loss in Pittsburgh, when he allowed four runs on eight hits in four innings. It was the third time in seven starts this season he has failed to complete five innings, and he remains the only Giants starter to not last past the sixth inning in any of his starts this season. After an extra-innings game Sunday and in the midst of a 17-games-in-17-days stretch, the Giants would welcome the end of that particular streak.

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