Sizzling Brandon Belt can't wait for Giants' regular season
Giants' slugger nearly hits for cycle in spring outing
Published: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 3:00 a.m.
Last Modified: Friday, March 22, 2013 at 11:27 p.m.
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Manager Bruce Bochy often stops Brandon Belt before games and playfully asks, "What are you going to do today?"
Belt has a go-to response. "I joke that I'll hit for the cycle," he said, smiling.
Belt was a triple away when he stepped to the plate in the seventh inning at Salt River Fields on Friday and crushed a Miguel Batista offering to deep center. The result wasn't a triple, rather the second homer of the day for Belt, who is tied for the Cactus League lead with six.
"My timing is on point right now, and I feel like I'm mechanically sound," Belt said. "I'm hitting balls hard that I should be hitting hard."
Belt has been on a tear since the day he reported. He left Friday's 11-6 win over the Colorado Rockies with a .439 average, 16 RBIs and 12 runs scored in 18 games.
"He's had a great spring," Bochy said. "The approach up there is quiet. He has so much confidence going."
For Belt, who tore through the minors, success has always been as much mental as it is physical. He has alternated torrid streaks with wicked slumps, and admitted Friday that he wasn't properly prepared at the plate the past two seasons. But Belt, 24, feels he has turned a corner.
"There are going to be some tough times in there," Belt said. "But I'm not the same player from a mental aspect. I know what to expect now. I'm going in with a lot more confidence this year."
Opening day will take the Giants to Los Angeles, where Belt made his major league debut in 2011 against Clayton Kershaw, now the Dodgers' ace. Belt always has had more success against lefties than righties, and Friday three of Belt's four hits were against southpaws, including a mammoth home run against Colorado's Christian Friedrich.
"That's one of those things that I think you take personally as a left-handed hitter," Belt said. "I'll show them that I can (hit them)."
Regardless of what Belt has shown in the desert, Bochy said he has no plans to move him away from the No. 6 spot in the everyday lineup. But the manager did say that he has considered hitting Belt third or cleanup on days when Pablo Sandoval or Buster Posey need a break.
Infielder Wilson Valdez and right-handed reliever Ramon Ramirez were cut Friday, more than a week before the opt-out day in both veterans' contracts. Assistant general manager Bobby Evans said the Giants wanted to give the players a chance to catch on elsewhere since neither was going to make the opening day roster.
Valdez was thought to be the favorite to win the second backup infielder job alongside Joaquin Arias. Now, Evans said, the Giants will hope Tony Abreu can get over a strained quad that has limited him to just two at-bats all spring. If Abreu is not available by opening day, Nick Noonan likely will make his major league debut.
"It does bode well for (Noonan)," Evans said. "We'll need the depth."
Evans said Ramirez might draw outside interest as a free agent, but the Giants would like to add him to their Triple-A roster if he can't find a better option.
Evans said the Giants continue to monitor other cuts to see if they can find a suitable backup infielder. Ryan Theriot would like a full-time job and remains at home in Louisiana. Chone Figgins, recently cut by the Marlins, is not an option.