Amalfitano to coach third in spring game

Giants special assistant honored by request from Bochy

Amalfitano to coach third in spring game

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Issuing a symbolic tip of the cap to Joe Amalfitano, Giants manager Bruce Bochy asked the venerable baseball lifer to coach third base during Friday night's split-squad game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. Amalfitano, who's in his 62nd year in professional baseball, hasn't coached third since 1998 with the Dodgers. But Bochy wanted to find a way to recognize the 82-year-old, who has helped with instruction every day in Giants camp since it opened.

Amalfitano admitted feeling reluctant to accept Bochy's offer, which he made both privately and in front of the coaching staff.

"I was touched by the way he asked me and presented it to me," said Amalfitano, a special assistant in the Giants' player development office. "For him, the way he asked me and presented it to me, I'm going to do the best I can."

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Amalfitano jokingly added that he beseeched Bochy, "Don't make those signs from you to me too difficult" and plans to tell players, "Run until somebody tags you out."

Amalfitano, an infielder with the Giants, Houston Colt .45s and Cubs from 1954-67, typically switches from big league camp to Minor League camp when the latter opens in early March. This year he has remained on the Major League side, tutoring players in subtleties such as bunting and defense.

"He has tremendous knowledge and experience," Bochy said. "He's fun to have around. The players enjoy him."

Regarding Amalfitano's coaching stint, Bochy said, "We're going to have fun with it."

• After Thursday's 16-14 loss to the Cubs, Bochy cited the Giants' excess of mistakes, ranging from subpar pitching to shaky defense. One miscue, however, wasn't what it seemed. With Cubs on first and second base and nobody out in the fifth, Miguel Montero grounded to third baseman Matt Duffy, who threw the ball in the dirt to second baseman Kelby Tomlinson in an unsuccessful attempt to start a double play. That loaded the bases.

Duffy appeared to have made a poor throw, but Bochy pointed out after the game that Tomlinson had requested low relays because he was struggling to see the ball in the late-afternoon shadows.

"Duffy was trying to help him," Bochy said. Eight runs later, the inning ended.

• Bochy added the relievers could use improvement. Javier Lopez yielded five earned runs in Chicago's big fifth inning. Closer Santiago Casilla surrendered a pair of runs in the seventh and Hunter Strickland allowed one in the ninth.

Said Bochy, "Those are our late-inning guys. We've got to tighten things up."

One reliever who excelled was right-hander Jake Dunning, who was plucked from Minor League camp. Dunning, who recorded a 2.77 ERA in 30 appearances for the Giants in 2013-14, pitched a scoreless eighth inning and struck out two for the second straight appearance. Bochy indicated that Dunning, 27, may have forced his way into consideration for a bullpen role.

"That's why we brought him back over here. We like what he saw," Bochy said. "We might see him again before we leave."

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.