5/13/2014 2:13 A.M. ET
Strides on defense helping Giants succeed
By William Boor / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Crawford was the only played Bruce Bochy named when talking about the improved Giants defense, but the manager did include praise for the entire team.
"We talked a lot about trying to do the little things better," Bochy said. "I think overall we made a lot of improvements. We still have some improvement to go. We're still making a couple mistakes here and there, but everybody does."
As Bochy likes to remind people, "you can have a good game without getting a base hit" and the Giants -- in the midst of a five-game errorless streak -- are doing just that.
Entering play Monday, the Giants ranked tied for fourth in the National League with a .985 fielding percentage. Their 22 errors on the season were tied for 17th best in all of baseball.
"The more you cut back on them, the better you're going to be -- especially when you're playing close games like we do," Bochy said.
Defense is an important component for every Major League team, but 25 of the Giants' 38 games have been decided by two runs or fewer, so there is rarely any margin for error.
Morse has no qualms about playing first base
SAN FRANCISCO -- Michael Morse has not played first base regularly in three seasons, but by no means is he inexperienced at the position.
"It's nice to have a guy that gives you this flexibility and has experience playing first," said Giants manager Bruce Bochy, who on Monday gave Morse his first start of the season at first. "He came up as an infielder, so he has good hands and I think he'll be just fine there."
With Brandon Belt on the disabled list, the Giants will look to Morse to carry the load at first base -- a position he is familiar with, although not so much recently.
Monday's contest against the Braves marked the 612th Major League game Morse has played in. In 131 of those games, he played first base.
The bulk of those appearances came in 2011 when Morse played 85 games at first base for the Nationals.
"I just play," Morse said. "I'm not trying to take anyone's position. I'm just trying to fill in until the big guy gets healthy."
Despite the long layoff from playing first base, Morse isn't concerned about what lies ahead.
"Most confidence is that we've got such a good infield," Morse said. "These guys can put the ball right on the money, so I'm just going to put my glove out there and let them hit it."
Morse did have an error in Monday's 4-2 victory as he failed to charge a ground ball that eventually hit the base. Morse fell to his knees and blocked the ball as Heyward narrowly avoided colliding with him.
While that play may have looked awkward, it did not cost the Giants and ultimately Morse passed his first test as the Giants' first baseman.
Huff returns from DL, will be cautious with running
SAN FRANCISCO -- David Huff won't be stretching doubles into triples anytime soon, but the left-handed Giants reliever feels good enough to pitch and was activated from the disabled list prior to Monday's game.
After joking that he would stop at second on a ball hit to AT&T Park's Triples Alley, Huff said he went through simulated pitcher's fielding practice and the tight left quadriceps felt fine.
"Throwing, I have no problem doing," Huff said. "Running, I probably have to back off because the quad is a little tight, but that's how every strain goes. It's just a matter of maintaining and being smart. As long as I can throw, cover first base and field a bunt, that's all I need to be doing."
Huff threw three scoreless innings in a rehab outing for Triple-A Fresno last Thursday, but has not appeared in a game for the Giants since April 21.
Giants hoping Sandoval on offensive upswing
SAN FRANCISCO -- Only time will tell if Pablo Sandoval's woes at the plate are over, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy believes Sunday's results may be exactly what the third baseman needed.
"He should feel good about that," Bochy said of Sandoval's three-hit performance. "Sometimes a game like that can get a guy going, get his confidence going."
Sandoval recorded a season-high three hits and two RBIs in Sunday's win over the Dodgers. A career .292 hitter, he is still hitting just .189 this season, but Sunday was his first multi-hit game since April 27.
"He has the ability to hit," Bochy said. "He didn't lose that. This game's humbling at times and it can beat you up. Once he gets that confidence back, he'll be the player that we know he is."
Entering play Monday, Sandoval had four hits in his last nine at-bats and may be regaining confidence.
• Prior to Monday's game, the Giants optioned outfielder Juan Perez to Triple-A Fresno.
• Buster Posey was not in Monday's lineup for a scheduled day off as the Giants are in the midst of a stretch of 17 games in 17 days. That is the longest such stretch of the season.