Giants’ Brandon Belt homers twice in first game back

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The Giants’ handling of Brandon Belt this season has been frustrating and confusing. He hasn’t produced, but that’s mostly because the San Francisco front office hasn’t given him an opportunity to produce.

(Belt entered play Sunday with only 90 major league plate appearances to his name).

If the talented 23-year-old is going to earn a more active role, he’ll have to make serious noise in the inconsistent spurts of playing time that he gets.

And that’s exactly what the kid did in Sunday afternoon’s 5-2 victory over the Marlins.

In his first game since returning to the majors, Belt crushed his third and fourth home runs of the season — both solo shots. He’s still batting just .232/.330/.415 and the Giants still seem to prefer Aubrey Huff at first base, but the tide can always change. Belt does have the ability to play in a corner outfield spot.

A native of Nacogdoches, Texas, Belt posted a .352/.455/.620 batting line, 23 home runs and 112 RBI in 136 games between Single-A San Jose, Double-A Richmond and Triple-A Fresno last season. He was rated the 23rd most-promising minor league player in the sport this past winter by Baseball America.

Pitch clock cut minor league games by 25 minutes to 2:38

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NEW YORK — Use of pitch clocks cut the average time of minor league games by 25 minutes this year, a reduction Major League Baseball hopes is replicated when the devices are installed in the big leagues next season.

The average time of minor league games dropped to 2 hours, 38 minutes in the season that ended Wednesday, according to the commissioner’s office. That was down from 3:03 during the 2021 season.

Clocks at Triple-A were set at 14 seconds with no runners on base and 19 with runners. At lower levels, the clocks were at 18 seconds with runners.

Big league nine-inning games are averaging 3:04 this season.

MLB announced on Sept. 9 that clocks will be introduced in the major leagues next year at 15 seconds with no runners and 20 seconds with runners, a decision opposed by the players’ association.

Pitchers are penalized a ball for violating the clock. In the minors, violations decreased from an average of 1.73 per game in the second week to 0.41 in week 24.

There will be a limit of two pickoff attempts or stepoffs per plate appearance, a rule that also was part of the minor league experiment this season. A third pickoff throw that is not successful would result in a balk.

Stolen bases increased to an average of 2.81 per game from 2.23 in the minors this year and the success rate rose to 78% from 68%.

Many offensive measurements were relatively stable: runs per team per game increased to 5.13 from 5.11 and batting average to .249 from .247.

Plate appearances resulting in home runs dropped to 2.7% from 2.8%, strikeouts declined to 24.4% from 25.4% and walks rose to 10.5% from 10.2%. Hit batters remained at 1.6%.