Belt wins Giants' spring newcomer award

Belt wins Giants' spring newcomer award

SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Giants rookie first baseman Brandon Belt received some good news Sunday and it had nothing to do with him making the team.

Belt received the Harry S. Jordan Award as the top first-year player in camp this spring, it was announced before the Giants closed the Cactus League portion of their schedule against the Royals at Surprise Stadium. The vote of his teammates, coaches and trainers was unanimous.

Belt said he was still awaiting word from Giants management on his status: big league or Triple-A.

"They've told me absolutely nothing," said Belt, who was in the cleanup spot and playing first base Sunday. "I have no idea what's going to happen. I'm just trying to do my best every day and whatever happens happens."

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Belt is traveling with the team back to the Bay Area where the Giants are playing their annual three-game Bay Bridge Series against the A's beginning at AT&T Park on Monday night. The season opener is in Los Angeles against the rival Dodgers on Thursday at 5 p.m. PT.

Manager Bruce Bochy said before the game that there certainly will be an answer by then and that the last couple of spots on the big club are still up for grabs. The Giants don't have to set their 25-man roster until Thursday morning.

Belt's chances of making the team certainly increased with the calf injury to Cody Ross, who'll start the season on the 15-day disabled list and is expected to miss the first couple of weeks.

"It makes us get more creative, that's for sure" Bochy said. "Does it make it any easier? Maybe a little bit. We lost a pretty good bat in Cody Ross. That will certainly play into it when we make that decision. [Belt] would give us another left-handed bat on the bench or we could do what we did in the past. We came off a great year last year. We could go similar to what we had last year when we started the season."

It should be noted that Ross didn't join the Giants until Aug. 22 when he was picked up on waivers from the Marlins. The defending World Series champions started the season with Aubrey Huff at first base and a cast of thousands in the outfield. Huff could move to right field, making room for Belt at first base. But as of now, Huff is still the first baseman.

Belt went into Sunday's action batting .306 this spring (19-for-62) with three homers and 13 RBIs. This came off a 2010 season during which he played at all three Minor League levels, hitting .352 with 23 homers and 112 RBIs in 136 games.

"I like what I see from him," Bochy said. "He's done great on both sides of the ball. He's done a great job at first. He's had quality at-bats. He's got balance up there, good discipline at the plate. You can see why the kid had a big year last year."

Belt was given an award that was christened back in 1988 and named in honor of a longtime Minor League trainer in the Giants organization. It's given to the player in his first Giants big league camp "whose performance and dedication in Spring Training best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit," the Giants said in their media release.

Past winners of some repute were two-time National League Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum (2007), Pedro Feliz (2001) and Russ Ortiz (1998). Outfielder Darren Ford won it last year.

Belt, putting together a sandwich in the tight visitors' clubhouse Sunday, said he was thrilled to be recognized.

"It feels great," he said. "People kind of play [the award] down at times, but it's voted on by the rest of the players and trainers and it's a cool deal. I'm pretty excited."

Asked about his spring, he added: "I think there are some things as you go along that you realize you have to work on. For me, I was able to come out and work on some things all the time and I feel I got better as the spring went on. So I think it's been pretty successful and I hope I can continue it throughout the year."

Barry M. Bloom is 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.