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Where Does Belt Fit? (Or, Belt Gets Squeezed…Or, Bochy Tight On Belt…Or, OK I’ll Stop)

April 9, 2012

Per Andrew Baggarly, two days ago:

Brandon Belt struck out four times in his first eight at-bats, but he’s in Sunday’s lineup at first base. And Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Belt would be in the lineup Monday at Colorado, too.

Bochy might have had Belt on a yo-yo string all last season, but he plans to give the gifted left-handed hitter plenty of rope this year.

“He’s going to be out there,” Bochy reaffirmed. “That’s what you do.”

Per Giants Extra, two hours ago:

Today’s lineup…

Blanco RF
Cabrera LF
Sandoval 3B
Huff 1B
Sanchez C
Pagan CF
Crawford SS
Theriot 2B
Zito SP

As one of Belt’s biggest boosters, I admit: he looked a tad lost during the Arizona series. I’m no scout — I have only a vague idea how to identify a hole in a swing — but, well, Belt has a hole in his swing. And lots of balls thrown by Diamondbacks pitchers went right through it. Two things, however:

1. You (meaning Bochy/Sabean) made the kid your starting first baseman, and for good reason. He’s mashed at every MiLB stop and has the potential to be another home-grown offensive difference maker. What you need to do is keep playing him, to let him make adjustments with the confidence that he won’t be yanked after every 1-for-10. It’s entirely possible Belt isn’t going to become a force at the Major League level. Not every touted prospect does. But it’s time to find out.

2. The alternative, your cleanup hitter, has looked every bit as anemic as Belt. Small sample, sure, but he looked anemic all last year. I hope Huff turns it around; even three-quarters of his 2010 production would go a long way toward hoisting this lineup out of mediocrity. But if he is consistently taking ABs away from Belt while consistently hitting the way he has, that will be a problem.

Yes, it’s game number four. No, giving Belt a day off isn’t the end of the world, though Coors Field seems like as good a place as any to get his mojo working. This kinda seems like the beginning (or, more accurately, continuation) of a trend, though. Hope not; it’s a long season and I have only so much impotent rage.

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