Taking the Belt to Bruce Bochy

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CSN Bay Area’s Andrew Baggarly thinks the lineup the Giants used today is the one Bruce Bochy will go with on Opening Day as well. Which should please fans of the other NL West teams.

CF Angel Pagan
LF Melky Cabrera
3B Pablo Sandoval
C Buster Posey
1B Aubrey Huff
RF Nate Schierholtz
2B Ryan Theriot
SS Brandon Crawford

Missing, of course, is Brandon Belt, who has only managed to hit .368 with three homers and four doubles in 38 at-bats in Arizona. Huff has come in at .286 with two homers and no doubles in 28 at-bats. But there was never any real reason to think it’d be a fair fight. Huff is still making big money and will likely get a month or two of regular-season playing time to prove that he’s worth it.

The Giants do have the opportunity to go with both Belt and Huff by playing one of the two, most likely Huff, in the outfield. Such a move would probably do more harm than good, though. While the Giants need to get Belt’s bat in there, it makes a lot more sense to play him over Huff than either Pagan or Schierholtz. Neither of those guys are locks to hit, but they are among the league’s better defenders at their positions.

Giants fans just have to hope that if Huff is a liability in the early going, the team doesn’t wait as long as it did with Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada last year to drop him. If the plan is for Posey to see some time at first base, then Huff would quickly become an unnecessary part. The Giants could use Belt at first base against righties and young Hector Sanchez as their catcher against lefties, with Posey switching between the two positions.

Twins’ top prospect Nick Burdi will undergo Tommy John surgery

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Twins’ right-hander Nick Burdi is set to undergo Tommy John surgery on his right elbow, the team announced on Friday. Burdi made 14 appearances for Double-A Chattanooga before succumbing to a torn ulnar collateral ligament and is not expected to make his major league debut until mid-2018 at the earliest. A UCL tear doesn’t always require Tommy John surgery — less severe cases can be treated with platelet-rich plasma injections, for example — but Twins’ chief baseball officer Derek Falvey told the press that surgery was unavoidable as Burdi had sustained a “full thickness tear” in his elbow.

Entering the 2016 season, Burdi was widely considered a top ten prospect in the Twins’ system. His exceptional velocity and potent fastball-slider combo made him a fearsome relief option as he came off of his first season in Double-A Chattanooga in 2015. During the 2016 season, however, the 24-year-old experienced a significant setback after a bone bruise cut his season short in late July. Prior to Friday’s diagnosis, he appeared to be staging an impressive comeback with the Chattanooga Lookouts this spring, decorating his efforts with a sparkling 0.53 ERA, 2.1 BB/9 and 10.6 SO/9 over 17 innings.

It’s a tough break for the Twins, whose farm system was ranked 21st in the league by Baseball America. “Obviously he’s proven when he’s healthy he’s an absolute premium prospect, and the Twins are treating him that way,” Burdi’s agent, Matt Sosnick, told Mike Berardino of the Pioneer Press. “We just want to make sure everything we do ultimately leads to the goal of getting him back on the field as quickly as he can.”

Brock Holt has been shut down from game activity

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Things have gone from bad to worse for Red Sox’ outfielder Brock Holt, who was shut down “for the foreseeable future” on Friday after meeting with head trauma specialist Michael Collins. The Red Sox placed Holt on the 10-day disabled list in April after he began experiencing vertigo, the latest in a series of head injuries he’s sustained since last spring.

According to the Boston Herald’s Jason Mastrodonato, the outfielder was initially advised to attempt playing through his symptoms, but it quickly became apparent that the strategy wasn’t going to work. Now, the plan is to shut him down from any game activity in the hopes that he’ll be able to recover from all lingering symptoms before returning to the roster. Club manager John Farrell told reporters that the 28-year-old is still cleared to take batting practice and work on his defense, but won’t continue his rehab starts in Triple-A Pawtucket for the time being.

Holt had been making regular appearances for the Pawtucket Red Sox and was batting .209/.292/.372 with two home runs through 14 games this spring. This season marks his fifth run within the Red Sox’ organization. He experienced a bit of a slump at the plate in 2016 and slashed .255/.322/.383 after breaking out during his first All-Star year in 2015.

Pete Abraham of the Boston Globe suggests that the team’s concern for Holt extends past his setbacks at the plate. It’s still a long road to a full recovery, and while Farrell told reporters he believes the outfielder is on track to make a return sometime in 2017, he’ll need to make sure that Holt is both physically and mentally prepared to do so.