The push for Brandon Belt to break camp with the Giants is on

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As I sit here today I will still be rather surprised if the Giants don’t send first base prospect Brandon Belt down to Fresno to start the year, but that hasn’t stopped the Bay Area press from beating the drum for Belt. Here’s the Chronicle: “After Brandon Belt’s big day, where does he start?”  Here’s the Merc: “Belt’s bat making a convincing argument.”

The Giants have Aubrey Huff on a new contract at first and veteran Pat Burrell in left field. For Belt to make the team, then, it requires either benching one of them or making Belt a backup, and neither of those seem likely at the moment.  Add in the whole service time thing — keeping Belt down a couple of months could by the Giants another year of control — and the fact that even Buster Posey couldn’t break camp with the team when he was being blocked by lesser players, and you get the sense that it isn’t in the cards.

But boy howdy, if Pat Burrell doesn’t hit coming out of the gate …

Blue Jays clinch playoff berth with Orioles’ loss to Red Sox

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TORONTO — The Blue Jays clinched a postseason berth Thursday without taking the field.

Toronto was assured of an AL wild card berth when the Boston Red Sox beat the Baltimore Orioles 5-3.

If Toronto holds its current position as the first of the AL’s three wild cards, the Blue Jays would open a best-of-three wild-card series at Rogers Centre next week.

“These guys are excited to be in this position,” Blue Jays manager John Schneider said after Wednesday’s 8-3 loss to the New York Yankees. “You’ve got three really good pitchers lined up against a good Boston team, playing at home. So I think it’s more excitement more than it’s nerves or anything. I think the guys are going to come out and be ready to roll on Friday night.”

Toronto became the fourth AL team to clinch a playoff berth, joining division champions Houston, the Yankees and Cleveland. The Astros and Yankees have first-round byes.

The Blue Jays last went to the playoffs in 2020, when they were knocked out with two straight losses to Tampa Bay.

Eight of the 12 berths in the expanded postseason have been clinched: The Los Angeles Dodgers and St. Louis earned division titles, and Atlanta and the New York Mets are assured no worse the wild cards while still competing to win the NL East. The Dodgers have a first-round bye.