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.

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.

Madison Bumgarner is the legendary Paul Bunyan

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Madison Bumgarner is the legendary Paul Bunyan

Paul Bunyan was a large, strapping man who chopped down trees with his bare hands, hung out with enormous oxen and looked great in flannel plaid shirts. 

Add in the ability to blow massive snot rockets and shut down teams through the postseason and what do you get? Madison Bumgarner. 

Continue Reading on Cut4

Feeling good, Bochy returns to oversee Giants

Manager grateful for doctors, well-wishers after heart procedure

Feeling good, Bochy returns to oversee Giants

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy rejoined the team Sunday after being treated for a heart problem, declaring that he has "another 200,000 miles on me."

Bochy, 59, was hospitalized after Thursday's opening workout for pitchers and catchers to have two stents placed in arteries near his heart. He was released from the hospital Friday. Though the procedure relieved what Bochy called a 90 percent blockage, he said his malady "wasn't a widow-maker."

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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.

Four-midable: Giants relievers unparalleled

Affeldt, Casilla, Lopez, Romo have been bullpen backbone since 2011

Four-midable: Giants relievers unparalleled

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Individually, they're above-average yet hardly unique. Collectively, they're peerless.

The Giants owe much of their success to the relievers known as the "Core Four" -- Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez and Sergio Romo. In an era when economics or fluctuations in performance force many teams to replenish or revise their bullpen personnel almost annually, the Giants' stability and excellence are truly singular.

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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

Tracy Ringolsby

Bochy puts focus on another championship run

Giants manager feels great, won't dwell on health issues

Bochy puts focus on another championship run

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The sounds of Waylon Jennings, with an occasional offering from Dwight Yoakam and Jamey Johnson and even a version of Jimmy Dean's "Big John" rang out over the public address system at Scottsdale Stadium on Sunday. Bruce Springsteen was put back on the shelf.

Three days after having two stents placed in a heart artery that was 90 percent blocked, Bruce Bochy, the Giants' field boss, is back. And his tunes were back on the sound system.

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Tracy Ringolsby is a columnist for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

Kline relishing life as Minor League pitching coach

Former Major League reliever enjoying role even more than playing

Kline relishing life as Minor League pitching coach

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Anybody who knew Steve Kline during his 11-year Major League career as a reliever would use the term "fun-loving" to describe him. Though Kline has entered the coaching realm, he's having more fun than ever.

Kline, who was promoted from Class A Augusta to Double-A Richmond as pitching coach, is in his first Major League camp in a coach's role. He's helping guide the pitchers, many of whom performed for him during his six years at Augusta or are about to join him at Richmond.

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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

Phil Rogers

Peavy enjoying a triumphant second act

Peavy enjoying a triumphant second act

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It's too bad the television show "Pimp My Ride" has gone off the air.

A cable car is indeed coming to the Southern Falls Plantation in Alabama. Jake Peavy wouldn't have it any other way.

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Romo unconcerned about sore shoulder

Romo unconcerned about sore shoulder

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants reliever Sergio Romo believes the mild discomfort in his throwing shoulder soon will be just a memory.

"I think I'll be throwing off a mound by sometime next week," Romo said Saturday.

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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.

Belt pulling for 'American Sniper' at Oscars

Giants' resident movie buff expects 'Selma' to take top prize

Belt pulling for 'American Sniper' at Oscars

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Brandon Belt is prepared for a letdown when he watches Sunday night's Academy Awards telecast.

Belt, the Giants first baseman and resident film aficionado, raved about "American Sniper." Said Belt on Saturday, "That's one of the best movies I've ever seen." However, Belt doubted that enough Oscar voters will agree with him.

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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 looks smooth, feels good in first bullpen session

Giants right-hander reports more effortless throwing in return from surgery

Cain looks smooth, feels good in first bullpen session

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Friday was right-hander Matt Cain's turn to generate the optimism that typifies Spring Training as he threw impressively off a bullpen mound.

"This is probably the best my arm strength has felt, shoulder-wise and everything," Cain said. "Everything just feels really good."

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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 plans to rejoin Giants on Sunday

Giants manager feeling 'really good' after insertion of stents to relieve heart trouble

Bochy plans to rejoin Giants on Sunday

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy was released Friday from the hospital where he underwent a procedure to relieve heart trouble and said in a text message that he'll rejoin the club Sunday.

Bochy, 59, vowed in the text that he'll be "ready to go."

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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 gets positive reviews after throwing

First bullpen session goes well for Giants right-hander

Lincecum gets positive reviews after throwing

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- It was merely his first bullpen session of Spring Training, but Tim Lincecum passed the eyeball test Friday.

He appeared to repeat his delivery -- a must for any pitcher, but often a challenge for Lincecum, who relies heavily on his physical synchronization to derive the force he applies to each pitch. His body remained aligned as he drove toward home plate, recalling the look he maintained when he won two National League Cy Young Awards, led the league in strikeouts three times and made four All-Star teams.

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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.