SF@LAA: Scutaro doubles in Spring Training debut

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged Monday what has appeared inevitable for weeks: Second baseman Marco Scutaro, troubled by a bad back, likely will have to begin the regular season on the disabled list.

Scutaro has appeared in only one exhibition game, a three-inning stint against the Angels here last Monday. Since then, the 38-year-old has continued to engage in baseball-related activities, participating in some fielding drills and taking batting practice. But Bochy said Scutaro, whose condition is evaluated daily, hasn't yet felt fit enough to play again, even in a Minor League exhibition.

"Obviously, the chances of him starting with us have gone way down," said Bochy, who quickly added that he wouldn't completely rule out Scutaro's availability for the March 31 opener at Arizona.

Bochy addressed Scutaro's playing status after the Giants' 11-4 exhibition loss to the Angels. Bochy said that since the condition of Scutaro's back can fluctuate from day to day, questions about his playing status are difficult to answer. But, Bochy admitted, "Marco is probably a few days [away from playing], to be honest. I just think it's going to be tough to get him out there before we leave camp."

The Giants play their final Arizona exhibition Wednesday, then will play the Bay Bridge Series against the A's from Thursday through Saturday.

Joaquin Arias is Scutaro's probable replacement at second base. Regarding how the Giants will fill Scutaro's projected role as the No. 2 hitter, Bochy said he and his staff have discussed that subject in the last two or three days. Though inserting Arias into that spot is a simple solution, Bochy mentioned Michael Morse and Brandon Belt as possibilities. Morse batted second as the designated hitter Monday against the Angels and went 2-for-5 with a double and two RBIs.

Vogelsong reports progress in start vs. Angels

SF@LAA: Vogelsong strikes out Pujols to end inning

TEMPE, Ariz. -- Ryan Vogelsong's pitching line Monday didn't get tangled in his optimism.

Vogelsong's spring ERA remained at 9.00 after he was charged with four runs in four-plus innings as the Los Angeles Angels thumped the Giants, 11-4. But San Francisco's No. 5 starter felt encouraged by his ability to find both sides of home plate with his pitches and maintain a compact delivery.

"I feel like I made more progress today," said Vogelsong, who surrendered eight earned runs and 11 hits in 2 2/3 innings last Tuesday against Cleveland.

Vogelsong pled guilty to a common pitching malfeasance: trying to be too precise.

"I'm trying too hard to make really, really good pitches instead of doing what I did to get [ahead]," Vogelsong said.

Vogelsong blanked the Angels for three innings. He looked especially impressive while striking out Albert Pujols on a fastball to end the first inning and fanning Erick Aybar on a changeup to strand a pair of runners in the third. But Vogelsong permitted three runs in the fourth, as four consecutive Angels reached base safely after he had two outs with a runner on second base. Raul Ibanez smacked an RBI single, Howie Kendrick singled and Chris Iannetta walked. That loaded the bases for J.B. Shuck, who lashed a first-pitch, two-run double past first base.

The key to that inning was Iannetta's plate appearance, which lasted 10 pitches and taxed Vogelsong. Vogelsong believed he had recorded an inning-ending strikeout on pitch No. 9, but Iannetta was ruled to have checked his swing.

Vogelsong expressed surprise that Iannetta refrained from swinging at the next pitch, a tantalizing curveball.

"You have to give him some credit," Vogelsong said. "But it could have been a different-looking outing with that at-bat right there."

Manager Bruce Bochy agreed with Vogelsong's assessment of overall improvement: "For the first three innings, he was right on, hitting his spots."

Bochy also tried to quash any suggestion that Vogelsong's spot in the rotation might be in danger.

"I'm not going to talk about what we're going to do until we do talk about it," Bochy said, emphasizing that Vogelsong's status has not become an issue.

Minicozzi wins Giants' spring Jordan Award

Mark Minicozzi talks about his hot Spring Training

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants sprinkled a dash of glory upon Mark Minicozzi's remarkable baseball potpourri Monday when he received the Harry S. Jordan Award in a vote among teammates and coaches.

Named in honor of a former longtime Minor League athletic trainer for the club, the award is given in recognition of the player in his first big league camp whose performance and dedication in Spring Training best exemplifies the San Francisco Giants spirit.

Minicozzi's spirit might be unparalleled. He underwent three significant surgeries, nearly quit as an active player due to health reasons, spent three years with independent-league teams after sitting out a season to heal himself, went to Nicaragua to remain active as a ballplayer and rejoined the Giants organization in 2012, mostly due to a well-timed phone call, after a four-year absence.

That's a highly abridged version of his saga.

"There's nothing better than to get an award from your peers and coaches," said Minicozzi, a non-roster invitee to big league camp who edged right-hander Derek Law in the voting. "... Like I said before, two years ago at this time I was sitting on the couch, hoping to have a uniform."

Said manager Bruce Bochy, "[With] his attitude and enthusiasm, [the award] was well-earned."

Minicozzi, who was sent to Minor League camp last Friday, expressed excitement over his assignment to Triple-A Fresno. The 31-year-old never has played above Double-A, where he was an All-Star last year with the Giants' Richmond affiliate.

Minicozzi owns a .238 (10-for-42) batting average with two home runs and three RBIs in 19 games for the Giants this spring.