SAN FRANCISCO -- Do the Giants have a heart-to-heart talk among themselves or does manager Felipe Alou chisel sagacious sayings on the clubhouse wall to shake the club out of its current malaise? It's Part II of the debate. On Monday night, after the Giants dropped a 5-3 verdict to the San Diego Padres at SBC Park, veteran shortstop Omar Vizquel suggested the players should talk out their troubles and woes to kick the team out of first gear and into overdrive.
On Tuesday, manager Felipe Alou, who noted earlier that meetings are usually unnecessary, said, "Whatever comes out of Vizquel's mouth is good and positive; he's been around for a while, in many clubhouses," but from the talk-is-cheap department added what really counts is playing well on the field. That's where the problems are, says the skipper, the whys behind an 8-11 record. Leaving men on base. Not finishing off a hitter. Not making the big hit. Cutting down on the number of pitches. Alou laughed that the latter is like him talking too much -- eventually he'll make a mistake. The starters have struggled through 19 initial games with a 5.35 ERA, a 4-10 mark and only averaging 5 2/3 innings, while the defense ranks 15th with a .980 fielding percentage, commiting 15 errors. "I'm very respectful of his and other people's feelings, but whatever we need to do has to be between the lines with everybody watching," said Alou, who's been around for a while as well, as in some 50 years in baseball. "That's all we have to do. You don't make big pitches in the clubhouse or big plays or big hits." As for driving in a run with a Giant on third base -- a rarity so far -- Alou says, "There's one place to address that ... when you go to the plate. Which is what Vizquel is saying. To step it up, turn it up a notch." Veteran Marquis Grissom put in his 16 seasons' worth on the subject as well, noting Vizquel's statements were "not too far off the mark." "Moises [Alou] is back and we're still waiting on Barry [Bonds], but we can get it done without him," said Grissom. "We just have to keep playing team ball and not get depressed. We have to pick it up together. There's not a sense of urgency but we have to play better, to get better. We know what we're lacking but just not getting the job done. We need the one big hit, the one big break." Durham in sixth spot: As part of his plan to revitalize the Giants, manager Alou put scuffling leadoff man Ray Durham into the sixth spot in Tuesday's lineup after 15 games at the top. Vizquel led off for the third time. Durham was hitting .197 overall and batting 3-for-19 (.158) on the homestand, and Alou feels the veteran has been "passive" at the plate by trying to walk his way on base and taking too many strikes. "Sometimes you make moves to score more runs," said Alou, with the player having a different perspective lower in the order. "I talked with him for a while after the game [Monday], explaining that he's not an on-base guy batting [sixth]. Once he gets going, then I'll bring him back to leadoff." Bonds award: Barry Bonds was presented the Bay Area Player of the Year trophy on Tuesday by members of the sponsoring San Francisco-Oakland chapter of the Baseball Writers Assocation of America. "Thank you," said Bonds, who said he has a warehouse for his awards before asking, "Have I won this before?" Four times, actually. On deck: Left-hander Kirk Rueter (0-3, 7.20) seeks his first victory of the season Wednesday afternoon against San Diego after four outings. He's hoping to avoid last year's slowest-ever start when he was winless over six outings. Rueter is 11-4 lifetime vs. the Friars.
Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.