Mailbag: Bonds bracing for good year?

Mailbag: Bonds bracing for good year?

What kind of brace is Barry Bonds wearing, and is it helping him? Big difference from last year!
-- Bobb, San Antonio, Texas

Bonds says his new brace, given to him by Dr. Arthur Ting, has been great for his right knee. It's strong but lightweight, slim -- you can barely see it -- and gives him confidence to exercise. Most important, it doesn't restrict baseball movement.

Even though it's early, what are the chances of pitcher Jamey Wright and catcher Todd Greene making the team?
-- Lonnie G., Brandon, Miss.

Good -- so far. They're penciled in as the fifth starter and No. 2 catcher, respectively, but Brad Hennessey is throwing well this spring and rookie Justin Knoedler is also competing for the backup catching spot. Word is if Hennessey wins the rotation spot that Wright will head to the bullpen for long relief or spot starts. Wright seems assured of sticking.

Your article of March 2 reported the signing of a shopping list of players to one-year deals. With the soon-to-be departure of the geriatric ward, why on earth would the Giants not tie up the likes of Noah Lowry, Matt Cain, Jack Taschner, Tyler Walker, Scott Munter, Hennessey, ad infinitum, to longer terms?
-- Fred W, Lodi, Calif.

In a sense, they're already locked long term. Players on the roster are kind of indentured servants for six years before coming free agents and aren't eligible for arbitration until three seasons of service.

Looking at the Giants rosters, I noticed that Tony Torcato was not on any of them. Could you please tell me what became of him?
-- Tyler S., Penngrove, Calif.

Torcato, the Giants' 1998 first-round draft pick, was released after his Triple-A Fresno campaign in 2005 and is now playing for the BBC Orioles of Grosseto in the Italian Baseball League.

I am going down to Scottsdale, Ariz., for Spring Training. Do you know if it's possible to meet any of the players outside of chatting with them before games?
-- Jared S., San Jose, Calif.

It's a sure thing. In the newly configured players parking lot at Scottsdale Stadium, the Giants have a new parking area and their own entrance, but it's still near the old stadium entrance south of the ballpark on Osborn and fans have autograph access. Athletes arrive starting around 7:30 a.m., and will also be available postgame. Be courteous, and say please and thank you.

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What is the latest news on Jason Schmidt? Has there been any health concerns thus far in Spring Training?
-- Joe L., San Francisco

So far, Schmidt is looking sharp, looking strong. His first outing was impressive.

Whatever happened to Chris Speier?
-- Kevin L., Rincon, Ga.

Speier became the Chicago Cubs' third-base coach last season. He has also coached for San Francisco, Arizona, Milwaukee and Oakland. He retired from the Giants in 1989 and was initially a roving instructor. His son, Justin, a pitcher, is in the Toronto Blue Jays organization.

Is Jose Vizcaino going to see a lot of playing time?
-- Jeff C., Rodeo, Calif.

You betcha. The guy is so versatile, he can play any infield spot, but the Giants hope he won't start too much -- that would mean one of the everyday players is hurting. Vizcaino, who sports a .271 career average over 16 seasons, turns 38 on March 26, but is in great condition.

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.