Giants' Barry Zito still a work in progress this spring 

click to enlarge Tinkering: Giants left-hander Barry Zito is working on finding the proper movement on his fastball in the Cactus League as he prepares for the season. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • US Presswire file photo
  • Tinkering: Giants left-hander Barry Zito is working on finding the proper movement on his fastball in the Cactus League as he prepares for the season.

PEORIA, Ariz. — If there’s one thing the Giants are going to lean on in 2012, it’s the starting rotation. Barry Zito, slated to be the team’s fifth starter, had a solid third appearance in a 7-5 Cactus League win against the Seattle Mariners on Thursday, relinquishing two runs on consecutive mistakes.

Zito was fooling hitters with his curveball, and said it was where he wanted it to be. He notched four strikeouts through four innings, but it was his fastball that got him into trouble. He walked Casper Wells and Mariners top prospect Mike Carp took advantage of a 2-1 fastball that Zito would have liked to have back with a two-run homer.

“It was probably middle-away, should have been down more,” Zito said.

Zito is working on having the right type of movement on his fastball.

“[I look for] some late finish into a righty, some late cut, some kind of late tail on the fastball away to the righty,” he said.

Gregor Blanco continued to provide a spark for the Giants, blooping a single over Carp in the first at-bat of the game and rounding first as it rolled into right field. Right fielder Mike Wilson was charged with an error for mishandling the ball as Blanco never stopped moving and slid into second well ahead of the throw.

Blanco pushed further, tagging up on a medium fly ball to center and slid into third on a close play, in danger of making the last out at third. Brett Pill rewarded the effort by knocking in Blanco with a double on two outs.

That’s the kind of heads-up play the Giants are looking for this year as they seek to manufacture runs with speed and smart baseball.

“He’s got that ability to make things happen,” manager Bruce Bochy said this week of the 28-year-old when Blanco helped manufacture a run by going first to third on a ball that never left the infield. “All spring he’s done these little things and that can get contagious, which is what you’re hoping.”

Blanco has been getting consistent playing time in center field as the Giants try to assess his capabilities, and is one of the team’s leaders in at-bats this spring.

Brandon Belt performed well in the night game at the Peoria Sports Complex, going 3-for-4 with a double and pushing across an RBI.

Shortstop Brandon Crawford launched a two-run homer, breaking up a 2-2 tie in the sixth inning.

Notes: Giants general manager Brian Sabean doesn’t know if or when Angel Villalona will make it to camp. “We’ve done everything we can do to support the kid,” Sabean said. He conceded that the situation is completely out of the team’s hands. ... Pitcher Brett Bochy, son of manager Bruce Bochy, reportedly made the trip with the team to Peoria. The 20th-round draft pick in 2010 hasn’t seen any game time this spring.

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Curtis Steudeman

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