Competition heavy for three open spots on Giants

Numerous candidates vying for remaining relief, bench roles

Competition heavy for three open spots on Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With Tuesday's Cactus League opener against the Oakland A's, the Giants will begin conducting auditions for the few vacancies in their cast.

Given the safe assumption that they'll open the season with 12 pitchers, the Giants will have exactly one relief spot up for grabs. That's all that remains after factoring in five starters (Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Tim Lincecum, Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson), two long relievers (Yusmeiro Petit and Ryan Vogelsong) and four veteran relievers (Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo).

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Lyle Spencer

Righetti a quiet constant in Giants' success

Pitching coach entering his 16th season in role with San Francisco

Righetti a quiet constant in Giants' success

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Asked early Monday morning if he ever wonders why he still seems to fly under the national radar as pitching coach of the three-time World Series champion Giants, Dave Righetti grinned, winked and said, "That's the idea."

Bruce Bochy, distinguished manager of the reigning champs, doesn't hesitate in freely praising Righetti. The Giants lost one vital coach to retirement this season with former third-base coach Tim Flannery taking his guitar to the beach, but "Rags," as he's been known in clubhouses for years, is still at Bochy's side.

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Lyle Spencer is a national reporter and columnist for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @LyleMSpencer. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Big innings don't always equate to struggles next season

History shows Bumgarner's 2014 workload doesn't necessarily mean extra obstacles this year

Big innings don't always equate to struggles next season

At some point between the final out of the World Series and that time a photo of Madison Bumgarner and an ox went viral, the question emerged: Was the big Giants lefty's huge postseason on top of a career-high innings load too much of a great thing?

The answer may be evident in the relative similarity in size between the man and an actual beast of burden, but really it will be proven by how Bumgarner performs in 2015. And before we find out, charting it up a bit shows that his total of 270 innings between Opening Day and Game 7 was the most in zero years, ranked fifth in the past five seasons and wouldn't have rated in the Majors' top 10 for just the regular season many years in the 1960s and '70s.

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John Schlegel is a national reporter for MLB.com. You can follow him on Twitter @JohnSchlegelMLB. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Rain cancels Giants' workout before Cactus League opener

Rain cancels Giants' workout before Cactus League opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Nobody seemed to complain Monday as the Giants were rained out of their final workout preceding Cactus League play.

Right-hander Tim Hudson still threw off a bullpen mound, continuing his progress toward rejoining the season-opening starting rotation. Rookie position players still sought refuge in the batting cages as they attempted to refine their swings.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Whiteside ready for next chapter as Giants' bullpen catcher

Veteran turned down Minor League offer to pursue coaching career

Whiteside ready for next chapter as Giants' bullpen catcher

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As a catcher, Eli Whiteside grew accustomed to surveying the whole field. He certainly looked at the big picture when he decided to rejoin the Giants as their bullpen catcher.

Whiteside, who appeared in 199 games for the Giants from 2009-12, was offered the bullpen catcher's job after Bill Hayes, who held that role for 13 years, was promoted to first-base coach in December. Whiteside already had signed a Minor League contract with the Atlanta Braves. But, at age 35, Whiteside realistically considered how much longer he could continue to play, particularly if reaching the Majors wasn't part of the reward.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bochy announces pitchers for first week of Cactus League

Bochy announces pitchers for first week of Cactus League

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Sunday was an upbeat day for Giants pitchers, including Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. Yet neither of them will be in the group of starters that will open Cactus League action for the Giants.

As previously reported, Madison Bumgarner will start Tuesday's exhibition opener against Oakland. He'll be followed by Jake Peavy on Wednesday against Oakland, Ryan Vogelsong on Thursday against the Cubs and Yusmeiro Petit on Friday against Texas.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cepeda: Minoso a pacesetter for Latin American ballplayers

Giants Hall of Famer remembers friend, icon

Cepeda: Minoso a pacesetter for Latin American ballplayers

SCOTTSDALE, Fla. -- Orlando Cepeda spoke in a voice thick with emotion as he eulogized his close friend, Chicago White Sox legend Minnie Minoso, who died Sunday.

Cepeda, who excelled in the Major Leagues for 17 years, called the Cuban-born Minoso the pacesetter for Latin American ballplayers such as himself.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pair of Matt Duffys makes MLB see double

Giants' Duffy, Astros' Duffy causing confusion as they try to earn roster spots

Pair of Matt Duffys makes MLB see double

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Matt Duffy is striving to make a name for himself in Major League baseball.

So is the other one.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bumgarner slated for Giants Cactus League opener

Bochy announces Opening Day starter will pitch one inning vs. A's in Mesa

Bumgarner slated for Giants Cactus League opener

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Madison Bumgarner, already named the Giants' Opening Night starter, also will begin San Francisco's Cactus League schedule by facing the Oakland A's on Tuesday in Mesa.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday that Bumgarner, who worked 270 innings last year including the postseason, will pitch only one inning against the A's.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MadBum, Posey square off during workout

Catcher declares himself winner over batterymate after three hits

MadBum, Posey square off during workout

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For a few entertaining minutes during the Giants' Saturday morning workout, Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner became adversaries, which wasn't the only switch from their usual roles. The gentlemanly Posey metamorphosed into a brash, Muhammad Ali sound-alike, while Bumgarner was powerless to stop it.

Posey was scheduled to catch Bumgarner's stint during live batting practice, but instead arranged to grab his bat and face his batterymate instead. The confrontation was one-sided, as Posey rapped three pitches that would have been hits. After concluding his round by driving a curveball to the left-center-field fence, Posey declined to step in the cage again.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Altruistic Affeldt accepts honorary degree

Giants reliever recognized by Whitworth University for humanitarian efforts

Altruistic Affeldt accepts honorary degree

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Receiving a college degree typically happens to students. Jeremy Affeldt earned one because he was considered a superb teacher.

On Feb. 5, Affeldt accepted an honorary bachelor's degree from Whitworth University, located in his hometown of Spokane, Wash. If Affeldt weren't pitching for the Giants, he quite possibly would be deepening his involvement in Whitworth's altruisic endeavors. After all, he and Whitworth are essentially teammates.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Recovering Cain to wait week before making start

Manager says righty is fine but won't appear in game until March 10-14

Recovering Cain to wait week before making start

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Emphasizing that nothing is physically wrong with Matt Cain, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday that the right-hander won't appear in a Cactus League exhibition game until sometime between March 10-14, enabling him to work more extensively on his recovery from surgeries.

Bochy still expected Cain, who had bone spurs and chips removed from his right elbow and ankle during the offseason, to be ready to start a game in "the first go-round" -- during San Francisco's opening five regular season contests. Cain looked sharp in his first two throwing sessions off a bullpen mound and is expected to pitch live batting practice Sunday.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Struggles behind him, Strickland looks to earn spot in 'pen

26-year-old righty motivated to win role with Giants this spring

Struggles behind him, Strickland looks to earn spot in 'pen

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Last year, Hunter Strickland drew motivation from where he had been. This spring, he must focus on where he's going.

Strickland's path is paved by his overpowering fastball. Following his promotion from Double-A Richmond, it helped him make nine scoreless relief appearances while striking out nine and walking none in seven innings for the Giants last year.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Lincecum showing old form at camp

Former Cy Young Award winner leaving hitters in awe this spring

Lincecum showing old form at camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brandon Belt sounded as if he had just faced one of the National League's premier pitchers after taking swings in live batting practice off Tim Lincecum. Of course, Lincecum formerly prompted such awe on a regular basis. And if the Giants right-hander truly has recaptured his Cy Young Award-winning form -- well, who knows what could happen this year?

Belt knew that Lincecum, who confronted hitters for the first time this spring, looked formidable.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pagan has discomfort in neck; Casilla's shin OK

Pagan has discomfort in neck; Casilla's shin OK

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It wasn't Angel Pagan's back, or his hamstring, or an oblique that sidelined him Friday.

Instead, the Giants' center fielder and leadoff hitter missed the workout with discomfort in his neck, manager Bruce Bochy said. This typically wouldn't be significant. However, staying on the field is a critical issue for Pagan, who has appeared in 58 out of a possible 134 second-half games in the previous two seasons.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Teenager Arroyo learning at Giants camp

Infielder adjusted last season after slump, injury at Class A Augusta

Teenager Arroyo learning at Giants camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Like most ambitious young men his age, Christian Arroyo is preparing for his career. Except Arroyo's counterparts are in college surrounded by peers. Arroyo is an apprentice engulfed by titans of his industry.

Arroyo is the youngest player at the Giants' Spring Training camp. In fact, he's believed to be the youngest Giant in camp for a while. Arroyo is 19, one year older than outfielder Ken Henderson was when he arrived at Spring Training in 1965 as one of Willie Mays' understudies.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Posey unseats Wright as 2015 'Face of MLB'

Giants All-Star catcher beats Mets star in Network's social-media vote

Posey unseats Wright as 2015 'Face of MLB'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The newest "face of MLB" wore a day-old beard and a mildly amused expression as he discussed his latest honor Thursday morning.

Giants catcher Buster Posey emerged victorious in MLB Network's "Face of MLB" competition, which was determined by a widespread fan vote. The Network announced Thursday that Posey beat out Mets third baseman David Wright, baseball's reigning "face," in the finals.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Casilla OK after batting-practice mishap

Closer hit in leg by McGehee's line drive; Romo improving

Casilla OK after batting-practice mishap

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Santiago Casilla and the Giants survived a scare Thursday morning when the reliever escaped with a bruise after a batted ball struck him on his left shin.

Casilla, the Giants' closer, was pitching live batting practice to Casey McGehee, who smacked a low line drive up the middle that hit Casilla. After lying nearly motionless on his side for almost a minute, Casilla rose to his feet and walked off the field under his own power, following assistant athletic trainer Eric Ortega.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bumgarner faces Pence, Sanchez in first BP

Giants ace 'got better' since last season, says backup catcher

Bumgarner faces Pence, Sanchez in first BP

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Looking as powerful as ever, Madison Bumgarner, the Giants' 2014 postseason hero, threw his first round of live batting practice this spring on Thursday.

Occasionally grunting from the effort as he released a pitch, Bumgarner missed the catcher's target more often than he ordinarily might. But neither Hunter Pence nor Hector Sanchez, who faced Bumgarner, made solid contact.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

All-Star? Crawford focused on consistency

Giants shortstop unfazed by talk of Midsummer Classic potential

All-Star? Crawford focused on consistency

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants general manager Brian Sabean wasn't issuing a challenge when he said earlier this month that the club envisioned "an All-Star-type season" from Brandon Crawford. Sabean simply was rendering his opinion of the shortstop's potential.

Anybody who has seen Crawford wield his line-drive swing, unleash searing throws and display the range of a hawk would know that Sabean's thoughts were planted firmly within the realm of the possible.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hudson feels on track after first mound session

Hudson feels on track after first mound session

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Tim Hudson took what he considered to be a significant step toward retaining a spot in the Giants' starting rotation with a 25-pitch throwing session off a bullpen mound Wednesday.

Hudson threw his first pitches off a mound -- all fastballs -- since Game 7 of the World Series last Oct. 29. The next major baseball-related event in Hudson's life occurred Jan. 2, when he underwent surgery to remove bone spurs from his right ankle. That procedure raised concerns that Hudson, 39, would not recover in time to open the regular season. But he expressed optimism after Wednesday's exercise.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Giants get briefed on pace, domestic violence

MLBPA executives visit as part of Spring Training camps tour

Giants get briefed on pace, domestic violence

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The impending attempt to improve the pace of play was among the top issues that Major League Baseball Players Association officials discussed with the Giants on Wednesday.

Executives of the union, including executive director Tony Clark, began their annual tour of all 30 Spring Training camps by visiting the reigning World Series champions. Clark said the subjects discussed included "anything that has made a headline over the course of the last three months."

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Pain-free Pagan eyeing full healthy season

After back surgery, Giants outfielder ready to 'be myself' in the field

Pain-free Pagan eyeing full healthy season

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Angel Pagan said that at the height of his back pain, the discomfort contorted his body so much he "looked like a 'Z' every time I got up."

Pagan intends to look more like an exclamation point this year.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Bochy says Pence admits rest would help

Giants right fielder has played in 383 consecutive games

Bochy says Pence admits rest would help

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants right fielder Hunter Pence probably won't play all 162 games this season.

Manager Bruce Bochy revealed Tuesday that he and Pence discussed the wisdom of an occasional rest. Pence, who has appeared in 383 consecutive games, admitted to Bochy that he should have excused himself occasionally late last season due to a sore back.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Hudson ready to test ankle on mound

Hudson ready to test ankle on mound

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Healing at an encouraging pace, Giants right-hander Tim Hudson said Tuesday he will try to throw off a bullpen mound Wednesday for the first time since undergoing ankle surgery last month.

Hudson, 39, had bone spurs removed from his right ankle on Jan. 2. But he has been throwing on flat ground and said he felt good enough to progress to the mound, which is more physically stressful.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Aoki reassesses plan to wrestle MadBum

New Giants outfielder has fun at first formal workout

Aoki reassesses plan to wrestle MadBum

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Outfielder Nori Aoki said Tuesday that his first official workout with the Giants was "a lot of fun," though he had second thoughts about wrestling Madison Bumgarner.

When Aoki was introduced in a news conference at AT&T Park after signing a one-year contract with the Giants as a free agent last month, he made a playful remark about going to the mat with Bumgarner. At 6-foot-5 and 235 pounds, Bumgarner stands 8 inches taller and weighs 55 pounds more than Aoki.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

With new and returning faces, Giants looking ahead

Loss of Sandoval, third-base coach will have impact on champs

With new and returning faces, Giants looking ahead

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants worked out on the main field at Scottsdale Stadium on Tuesday, bringing together the full squad for the first time since winning the World Series for the third time in five years this past October. It was a day to bring in the new and remember some of the old.

They head into their ninth season under manager Bruce Bochy, trying to win it all again with a new combination at the hot corner. Third baseman Pablo Sandoval and third-base coach Tim Flannery are gone, replaced by Casey McGehee and Roberto Kelly, respectively.

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Frame job: Posey an artist at coaxing strikes

Giants catcher skilled at getting close calls to go pitchers' way

Frame job: Posey an artist at coaxing strikes

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Buster Posey possesses a skill that's undetectable to most observers. To the Giants, it's as obvious as a scoreboard.

It's Posey's ability to frame pitches, a talent that requires a catcher to employ deft hands, remain limber physically and exercise sound judgment. A successfully framed delivery typically travels on the fringes of the strike zone. It's the catcher's duty to receive the ball in a way that erases any doubt the pitch is a strike.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Cain continues slow, steady progress in camp

Recovering righty throws another bullpen session; Hudson close to drills

Cain continues slow, steady progress in camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- For now, the Giants are continuing to give Matt Cain two days' rest between throwing sessions, contrasting with the every-other-day regimen pitchers typically follow.

Cain, who threw off a bullpen mound last Friday, repeated the exercise Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Cain, who's recovering from right elbow and ankle surgeries, would not throw again until Thursday.

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Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

MLB.com Columnist

Barry M. Bloom

Giants' bullpen still best in NL West

Veteran trio of Casilla, Romo, Affeldt get nod over Dodgers, Pads

Giants' bullpen still best in NL West

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Considering all the roster moves the Padres and Dodgers made during the offseason, the defending World Series-winning Giants still have the best bullpen in the tough National League West and perhaps the best manager in Major League Baseball to utilize it.

"I like our bullpen, and I should considering the job they've done for us," said that manager, Bruce Bochy. "[I like] their experience and they're so good at picking each other up. They're versatile. I have the flexibility of moving them around a little bit. It's a nice luxury to have. I don't know about the other bullpens, but I know I like my bullpen."

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Barry M. Bloom is a national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.