Panik in hitting zone; Belt HBP a worry

Panik in hitting zone; Belt HBP a worry

PHOENIX -- Along with his health, Joe Panik has regained his ability to adjust. He proved that with a 3-for-3 effort in the Giants' 3-1 Cactus League victory Thursday over the Milwaukee Brewers.

After opening the spring with 10 hitless at-bats, Panik has gone 6-for-6. He credited hitting coach Hensley Meulens and assistant Steve Decker for helping him regain his equilibrium.

Giants Spring Training info

"Everything was kind of happening quick," said Panik, who accounted for most of SanFrancisco's offense by doubling and scoring in the first inning before doubling home a run in the fifth. "They helped me simplify everything."

Meulens and Decker mainly reminded Panik to plant his front (striding) foot earlier, a key for any successful hitter.

Belt HBP produces scare

Concern rose suddenly in the first inning Thursday when Giants first baseman Brandon Belt was struck on the outside of his right hand by a pitch from Milwaukee starter Jimmy Nelson. Belt felt fine enough to remain in the game, but given his injury history, which includes a fractured left wrist and a broken left thumb, the Giants had reason to worry.

"It didn't have that broken feeling," Belt said.

And ...

• Giants manager Bruce Bochy said right-hander Matt Cain threw 15 pitches off a bullpen mound and is awaiting his next stap. The Giants continue to believe that Cain, who's recovering from removal of a cyst in his pitching arm, could be ready to join the season-opening starting rotation.

• Right-hander Chris Stratton excelled in his first Cactus League start of the spring, walking one batter and striking out two in three no-hit innings. Stratton, who appears bound for Triple-A Sacramento, and shortstop Kelby Tomlinson made each other look good. Stratton recorded seven groundball outs, including four gobbled up by Tomlinson, who displayed aggressiveness and range to either side.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.