SAN FRANCISCO -- Pablo Sandoval is off to a rough start this season for the Giants, both at the plate and in the field.
The talented third baseman has been under the microscope this year as he begins the final season of his contract, and he's been in the spotlight for all the wrong reasons lately. Sandoval committed a crucial throwing error on Thursday. And after another error on Friday, he was eventually replaced by Joaquin Arias as a late defensive sub.
So does manager Bruce Bochy think Sandoval's contract situation is a distraction?
"It can be," Bochy said. "He's the only one who can answer that I guess, if it's on his mind. The one thing you don't want Pablo to do is to get away from playing the game the way he normally plays it -- with a lot of passion and enthusiasm. Thinking about the contract, it can be a distraction. He assured me it's not."
Sandoval entered play on Saturday batting .143/.265/.238 with one homer and four RBIs, one less than the five RBIs pitcher Madison Bumgarner recorded in two at-bats on Friday. Going forward, Bochy said he could continue to use Arias as a late-inning defensive sub, saying, "It's more of a credit to Joaquin."
As for his star at the hot corner, Bochy said he hopes getting into the rhythm of the season will be the medicine Sandoval needs to get back to being a major offensive and defensive contributor.
"I certainly hope so," Bochy said. "He's got to keep his focus here."
Morse swinging hot bat, fitting in with Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants outfielder Michael Morse is quickly becoming a fan favorite at AT&T Park. Between his walk-up songs like the sing-a-long "Take On Me" and Bay Area rap classic "Blow the Whistle," the ballpark is always buzzing whenever Morse steps in the batter's box.
His nine-game hitting streak entering Saturday and ability to hit safely in 10 of 11 games to start the year has also made him a popular player in San Francisco.
"I've just been playing my game. I don't think about nothing like that," Morse said. "I don't look at numbers, I don't think about what I did yesterday. … There's too many games to start thinking about that stuff. We just started."
Entering play on Saturday, Morse sported a .394/.459/.697 slash line with two homers and a team-high 10 RBIs. Signed to a one-year, $6 million deal, Morse has proved to be a fruitful addition to a team that ranked 21st in scoring (629 runs) and 29th in home runs (107) last season.
"He gives us another power bat that I think we really needed," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Morse said he also feels comfortable in left field despite a dubious AT&T Park debut against the Oakland A's in an exhibition contest a couple of weeks ago, when he made a couple of misplays.
"Everybody thinks I had a bad game, but I had a good game," Morse said, saying he took more risks because it wasn't a regular-season contest.
As far as the clubhouse goes, the 32-year-old has also blended nicely with the Giants' veteran-laden but at times goofy group of players.
"He is a great fit here," Bochy said. "Great teammate. He's a guy his teammates have a lot of fun with. He's loose, but he's very serious. He plays with a lot of intensity."
Posey at first with Sanchez behind the plate
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt was on the bench to start Saturday's matinee against the Rockies, as Buster Posey made his first start of the year at first base.
But the move has just as much to do with manager Bruce Bochy's confidence in backup catcher Hector Sanchez, who received his third start of the year and second straight behind the plate.
"He's really come a long ways from last year," Bochy said. "The thing about Hector is he's taking more pride in what he's doing behind the plate. He's studying hitters more and he's doing a better job of framing. This makes it easier to give Buster a break."
Posey played in 21 games (16 starts) at first base in 2013, and the trend will continue again this year, especially with Sanchez's development. The 24-year-old Venezuelan has never been known for his bat as a big leaguer, but with the way Bochy talks about him, it's clear he's a valuable part of this team's plans for 2014.
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.