SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Center fielder Gregor Blanco's solid spring got even better Monday when he reached base four times in the Giants' 2-1 win over Kansas City.There was little fanfare surrounding the Giants' signing of Blanco to a Minor League deal this offseason, but he has made plenty of noise this spring. He added three hits, an RBI, a stolen base and a walk on Monday, improving his average to .545 this spring. All of Blanco's success has thrown him into the mix for a spot on the roster. "He's just played great," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's doing all he can to make the club. We don't know what's going to happen, but he's certainly doing his part." Once considered a long shot to make the club, Blanco leads the team in average and steals during Cactus League play and is second in hits. Blanco spent last season in the farm systems of Kansas City and Washington and didn't reach the big leagues. But he dominated the Venezuelan Winter League en route to MVP honors while leading his team to the finals. Now, the speedy lefty could find a home with the Giants thanks to his ability to reach base and make things happen. But Bochy sees Blanco as more than just a stolen-base threat. "He doesn't just run well," Bochy said. "He's swinging the bat real well, too."
Lincecum finds spring groove
SURPRISE, Ariz. -- Giants ace Tim Lincecum was back to his old self on Monday, erasing any doubts that the struggles his last time out were something other than a simple springtime anomaly.Throwing his curveball into the mix for the first time, Lincecum dominated Royals hitters, giving up just one hit and an unearned run in his third start of the spring. The All-Star right-hander didn't allow a ball out of the infield, striking out four, inducing six ground balls (one a double play) and recording a pickoff. After surrendering five runs in two innings his last time out, Lincecum said he worked on keeping his motion more over-the-top, comparing his delivery to a cartwheel. He said it was especially important he do so with the addition of the curveball to his repertoire -- a crucial pitch in his four strikeouts. "A lot better than last outing," Lincecum said when asked how he'd grade Monday's performance. "The fact that I doubled my innings helps, and my arm still feels good, my body still feels good, and I still kept my mechanics."
Few took Lincecum's poor start against Colorado seriously, as the two-time Cy Young winner threw solely fastballs and changeups in his two innings. He shrugged it off after the game as an effect of his arm not being up to full strength.Heading into Monday's game, Lincecum's plan didn't. He wanted to work on his curveball, he wanted to perfect the "over-the-top" motion and he wanted to focus on throwing strike one. "You know you're coming out here with the purpose to get your work in and not necessarily worry about the outcome," Lincecum said. "But as athletes and as competitors, we obviously want the outcome to be good every time." Of the 58 pitches Lincecum threw on Monday, 37 were strikes, a ratio he say she's pleased with as long as he's working ahead in counts. His fastball was around 92-93 mph. The only hit Lincecum allowed was a slow bouncer by Jarrod Dyson that hit off his left foot and rolled toward the third-base line. Dyson came scored an unearned run a ground ball after catcher Eli Whiteside bounced a throw to second on a steal attempt, allowing Dyson to head to third. "Timmy made a nice adjustment and threw well," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He had better command, stuff, everything across the board. It was a good day for Timmy." Lincecum did walk two Royals, but he managed to erase both of them -- one with an easy double-play ball and the other with a sharp pickoff move, something Lincecum says he'd like to use more during the season.
Freddy Sanchez may take field this week
SURPRISE, Ariz -- For the third time in four days, Freddy Sanchez was in the Giants lineup as designated hitter on Monday, and it's possible the second baseman will be in the field by the end of the week, manager Bruce Bochy said.Following Monday's game, in which Sanchez went 0-for-3 with a walk, Bochy pointed to Thursday or Friday as possible target dates for Sanchez to play second base, where he has yet to appear since June 10 because of surgery on his right shoulder. "It's getting better each day," Bochy said of Sanchez's throwing ability. "He's turning it up a notch and getting ready to go out there and play. Once you go out there, it's game speed, and that's what we're waiting on." Before the Giants headed to Surprise for Monday's afternoon game against Kansas City, Sanchez took extensive infield practice. He worked on double-play balls to his left and making the turn at second base, two areas in which Sanchez's shoulder is most tested. Before sustaining a torn labrum diving for a ball in June, Sanchez was hitting .289 in his 60 games played. With Monday's result, he is 2-for-10 this spring, both hits being singles. He looked good at the plate Monday, despite going hitless. He got his bat around quickly on an inside-half pitch, driving it to the warning track, where Jarrod Dyson made a lunging catch on the run. He hit some sharp line drives foul, too, and ultimately couldn't find any holes. Sanchez did work a full count before drawing a walk in the fifth inning. "It'll take a little time, but I thought today was a pretty good day for him with the way he was trying to stay inside of it and use the whole field," Bochy said. "He looked more comfortable up there."
Catcher Andrew Susac and infielder Joe Panik were re-assigned to the minors following Monday's game. Earlier Monday, the Giants announced six pitchers had also been re-assigned: Jake Dunning, Austin Fleet, Stephen Harrold, David Quinowski, Seth Rosin and Shawn Sanford. Nate Schierholtz was out of the lineup Sunday because of a very minor hip injury, but he was back on the field Monday in Surprise. The Giants right fielder played four innings, going 1-for-3.
AJ Cassavell is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.