09/12/12 9:05 PM ET
Confident Belt sticking in Giants' lineup
By Owen Perkins / Special to MLB.com
Belt, who has started 91 of the Giants' 143 games at first base, made his second start in left for Wednesday's series finale in Colorado. Several factors played into the decision, including a minor hand injury to Angel Pagan, Xavier Nady's recovery from a hamstring strain, Buster Posey's need for a day's relief from catching duties by taking a start at first, and -- more than anything -- Bochy's desire to keep Belt's bat in the lineup.
"It's good to see him swinging the bat the way he is," Bochy said. "He's really starting to come into his own and getting comfortable up there. The confidence has grown in him the second half, and he's shown what kind of player he can be."
Belt is hitting .274 with six homers on the season, but he is .351 (40-for-114) in his last 36 games entering Wednesday. The success has bred confidence, and Belt has used that confidence as a weapon when he steps to the plate, as evidenced by his first-pitch homer into the right-field seats on a 95-mph fastball in the sixth inning Tuesday on a day when he posted a career-best four RBIs.
"That's a big part of the game for me, being confident and being comfortable in the box," Belt said. "I've been like this for a while. I've been staying on top of it to make sure I can maintain it. Go out there and have good at-bats every time, and I think that keeps the confidence level up."
It was a solo home run, but the area where Belt may have improved the most is with runners in scoring position. He's hitting .250 in 108 at-bats with runners in scoring position this season, but over his last 28 at-bats with RISP, he is hitting .429.
"I'm not changing my approach any more," Belt said of his RISP at-bats. "Earlier in the year I would change my approach a lot more, maybe put a little more pressure on myself just to get those runs in. Now I'm just treating it like any other at-bat, because I feel comfortable that I can put the ball in play and score the run. It's working out for me."
Ultimately, taking the pressure off himself by focusing on what he needs to do for the team has made a big impact on his success at the plate.
"For every young guy, and for every player in general, you want to come up and help contribute as much as you can," Belt said. "When you do, you feel like you're more and more a part of the team. When you look at it from that angle, what you can do to help the team, you end up playing a lot better personally."
Pagan sits with nagging finger callous
DENVER -- After tying Willie Mays and Steve Finley for the San Francisco triples record in Tuesday's game against the Rockies, Angel Pagan was out of the lineup with a minor hand injury for Wednesday's rubber match, nursing a callous on his right index finger that is particularly troublesome when batting from the right side of the plate.
"I've had it pretty much the whole year," Pagan said Wednesday. "If we have today off and tomorrow [is an off-day], it'll make it better. It's the kind of thing that it could split right open. It could heal in a couple days, but it could split right open again. We're just trying to get it treated the right way, so whenever we play it doesn't open again."
The Giants started an unusual stretch facing four left-handers in a row beginning Wednesday and throughout the three-day series in Arizona, so giving Pagan a couple of days to let the callous heal before the Arizona series should help him in the long run.
Pagan hits slightly better against right-handers, hitting .294 (106-for-361) from the left side and .280 (49-for-175) from the right, with four home runs from each side of the plate.
"It's on his right hand, so he feels it more from his right side," manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday. "If he needs to play today, he can go out there. He took at an at-bat against a left-hander yesterday."
Pagan said it hasn't been aggravated recently, but the dryness typical of Colorado and Arizona could potentially make it worse.
"It's pretty raw right now," Pagan said. "Whenever I hit from the left side, it's OK, because the finger's on top, but when I hit from the right side, it puts pressure on it. I can play, but they want to make it better, thinking of the rest of the season."
Pablo Sandoval started the road trip going 0-for-9, lowering his average to .222 (22-for-99) with no home runs since coming off the disabled list Aug. 13. His performance earned him a day off in Wednesday's rubber match with the Rockies.
"I talked to Pablo and told him I'd give him a break," Bochy said. "[He needs to] back off a little bit. He's been pressing. Let him watch a game. I'll use him off the bench today here, too. Just get a couple days, get away a little bit. He's definitely fighting it, and it's starting to mount up on him a little bit as far as trying too hard."
With an off-day Thursday, the Giants' expanded bullpen was well rested with every arm potentially available if needed Wednesday. Bochy used seven relievers to secure the win against Colorado on Tuesday, but the Giants are carrying 14 relievers in September, finding room in the Majors for every pitcher on the club's 40-man roster.
"I think they're all good to go," Bochy said before Wednesday's game. "The guy I'll check with is [Guillermo] Mota. We're off tomorrow, and most of them were short yesterday, but Mota gave us four outs."
Bochy made special mention of how pleased he is with Sergio Romo, who has stepped up his game to fill the needs of a 'pen that has spent the year without closer Brian Wilson. Entering Wednesday, Romo had made 59 appearances with a 4-2 record and 10 saves. His 2.09 ERA was fourth best among National League relievers.
"Romo has really held up well as far as handling the workload we've thrown at him," Bochy said. "He's gone an inning-plus, he's gone two or three days [in a row]. It's a credit to his maintenance work and taking care of himself."
Owen Perkins is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.