Giants' Brandon Belt a man of many hats 

click to enlarge Brandon Belt is hoping he can find a role on the Opening Day roster as either an outfielder or first baseman. - US PRESSWIRE FILE PHOTO
  • US Presswire file photo
  • Brandon Belt is hoping he can find a role on the Opening Day roster as either an outfielder or first baseman.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Brandon Belt seems to wear a different hat every day. Well, surely he wears a different glove.

One night, he’s trying to figure out a Candlestick-like wind while playing left field in Glendale, Ariz., vs. the Los Angeles Dodgers. Then he goes back to his more familiar first baseman’s mitt.

On Thursday afternoon, before the Giants’ night game six miles away at Salt River Fields, Belt practiced with coaches at Scottsdale Stadium, trying to improve his throws from first to second base.

It’s all part of how the Giants, and Belt, are trying to piece together just how he can fit on a big-league roster.

The 23-year-old Texan admits he had “a little disappointing” rookie season when he hit .225 last year in 63 games.

Over the offseason, he emphasized hitting line drives. After all, fly balls go nowhere at AT&T Park.

The result: “He’s had a great spring,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

Belt, while working on the nuances of both the outfield and infield, has hit .333 with three homers and six RBIs.

So is Belt a backup first baseman? A fourth outfielder? A starter? If so, where?

“We are going to keep our options open there,” Bochy said. “He’s going to continue to play some left and first. These decisions will be made soon, in about 10 days. But he’s done a real nice job.”

As for last season, “It was not the best baseball I’ve ever played,” Belt said.

But, “I can take a lot of positive things out of that. ... Just being in the big leagues [for the first time] ... it can be a little overwhelming at times. This year, I wouldn’t expect that to happen because I kind of know more what to expect.”

In his long view, Belt sees himself as a first baseman.

“My body type [he’s 6-foot-5] allows me to play first base more,” he said. “I’m not extremely fast. I’m adequate in the outfield.”

Moreover, “I think I’m a better defensive player, I think I’m a better ballplayer in general when I’m at first base.
“But I want them to be able to count on me no matter where they put me.”

And so that’s why he’s out practicing by himself in an empty stadium before a Thursday afternoon workout.

NOTES: In a game in which they committed four errors, the Giants lost to the Colorado Rockies 7-0 Thursday night. ... Though no decisions have been made, Bochy sounded as though there’s a good chance Freddy Sanchez will start the year on the disabled list until he establishes he can play defense. In this case, Ryan Theriot would seem the most likely replacement at second base, though Mike Fontenot and Emmanuel Burriss are in the mix. “It depends on how close he is,” Bochy said of Sanchez. “But if he can’t go out there and play defense, the best thing to do is to start him on the DL and let him work his way back on the field and get him ready to play second base. It’s a lot easier to do that by sending him to Fresno.” ... Tim Lincecum pitched in a minor-league game Thursday instead of going against a division rival such as the Rockies late in spring training. Though Bochy said, “I don’t get caught up in that too much.”

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Mike Tulumello

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