SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A player's true defensive prowess is difficult to summarize in statistics, although some people try -- including John Dewan, author of "The Fielding Bible." And, according to Dewan's ratings, Dave Roberts led all Major League left fielders in Plus/Minus ratio, recording a plus-16 with the San Diego Padres. This reflects the number of plays a player makes above (or below) those an average performer at his position would make. This suggests that Roberts, 34, should be able to handle the transition back to center field for the Giants. He moved to left last season after the Padres acquired Mike Cameron.
"It's not all about just making the highlight plays," Roberts said Friday, discussing his defensive approach. "It's all about making the right plays, the plays you're supposed to make and throwing to the right base." Conventional evidence speaks well for Roberts, too. He was the Majors' only qualifying left fielder (minimum 108 games) not charged with an error last season. Anecdotal evidence? In 2003 with the Dodgers, he became the first player to ascend "Tal's Hill" -- the unusual incline in center field at Houston's Minute Maid Park -- to make a catch. "Defense is a big part of winning baseball," Roberts said. "People don't realize that it helps your pitching staff -- not only with sheer ERA or runs scored, but in the number of pitches they have to throw. In turn, it saves the bullpen. Over the course of a 162-game season, not getting the outs you're supposed to get adds up." What a beating: Manager Bruce Bochy resorted to sarcasm to summarize the Giants' 21-2 exhibition loss Friday to a Milwaukee Brewers split squad. When a reporter mentioned that the Giants' legion of flu-stricken players was dwindling, Bochy said, "It certainly looks like we all had it today." The Brewers, who finished with 24 hits, amassed 10 runs and 10 hits before the Giants recorded a single out in the third inning. Left-hander Steve Kline was San Francisco's only pitcher to work a full scoreless inning as Milwaukee scored two or more runs in six different innings. "We got the ball up a lot," Bochy said. He noted that the Brewers collected "eight or nine" broken-bat hits but didn't mean to discredit them. "They found holes everywhere out there," Bochy added. Left fielder Barry Bonds went 0-for-2 in his first spring appearance, grounding out and striking out, but reported no problems with his troublesome right knee. "It's great that his knee feels good and that he's excited about it," Bochy said. Cain's unruffled: Matt Cain knew better than to let the results of his two-inning stint against Milwaukee bother him. Cain allowed five runs in the second inning, but the Brewers' surge began when Bonds dropped Mike Rivera's wind-blown fly ball. It was scored a double, putting runners on second and third with one out. Cain coaxed a popup from Drew Anderson before JD Closser dumped a two-run single in front of Bonds. Cain walked opposing pitcher Carlos Villanueva -- his worst mistake -- before the gusts carried Hernan Iribarren's fly ball over the right-field wall for a three-run homer.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.