Notes: Feliz's new approach paying off

Notes: Feliz's new hitting approach paying off

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Anybody who has watched Pedro Feliz hit knows that he either pulls the ball or doesn't hit it at all.

He's trying to stop being so one-dimensional. And, for what it's worth, he seems bent on succeeding.

Continuing a project he began during the offseason, Feliz has spent all spring trying to drive pitches to the opposite field. So far, his patient approach has resulted in a .364 average, which was fattened by a 3-for-3 effort in the Giants' 6-5 exhibition victory Sunday over the Kansas City Royals.

"I'm trying to wait a little more, instead of pulling every pitch," Feliz said.

Feliz yanked two of his hits, a second-inning single and a sixth-inning double, to left field. But his most impressive connection, a two-run homer in the fourth that launched San Francisco's rally from a 5-0 deficit, traveled to right field. That's also where many of Feliz's other Cactus League hits have landed.

Feliz has tried to avoid striding with his front foot, thus preventing him from lunging at pitches. Swinging with a shorter stride or no stride at all helps him guide the ball to center or right field.

"I try not to stride, but it happens," the third baseman said. "It's something I have to get used to."

That's largely why Feliz didn't consider eliminating his stride in previous years.

"In the season, you don't want to try a lot of different things, because you need time to get used to them," he said. "You don't want to work with it in a game."

Feliz said he still needs "a little more work" before he's fully comfortable with his new method.

Defensively, Feliz already looks comfortable. He dove to his left to snare Angel Berroa's third-inning, one-hop smash and turned it into an out.

Opposite ends: Armando Benitez kept cruising while Noah Lowry kept struggling.

In his sharpest Cactus League appearance, Benitez struck out two Royals in a perfect fifth inning. The Giants' likely closer has not allowed a run in four appearances. Relying mostly on his slider, Benitez threw eight strikes in 10 pitches.

"I know what I need," Benitez said, explaining his pitch selection. "The last couple of days, you saw I have my fastball. I want to make sure I get my slider back and my sinker."

Lowry surrendered five runs and seven hits in 3 2/3 innings. He also walked three in an 86-pitch afternoon.

Spring Training
News and features:
• Cain's feeling good:  350K
• Linden's dream comes true:  350K
• Zito's ready to go:  350K
• Vizquel on importance of camp:  350K
• Aurilia feels good to be back:  350K
• Bonds' adventures in LF:  350K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

"It's going to come down to timing and rhythm," Lowry said, explaining that he hasn't found a comfortable tempo for delivering pitches and lacks balance on the mound.

"It's taken a little longer than I thought," Lowry added, "but obviously there's still some time left. I'll get it figured out."

Break for Bonds: Left fielder Barry Bonds received permission to return to his Los Angeles-area home, thus giving the 42-year-old a three-day break. Bonds didn't travel to Tucson for Saturday's game against Colorado and will observe Monday's scheduled off-day with the rest of the Giants.

Bonds entered Sunday tied for the Cactus League lead with four homers. He also was batting .348 (8-for-23) with nine RBIs.

Roster cuts: Minutes after Fred Lewis helped generate the Giants' victory over Kansas City with his speed, the outfielder was optioned to Triple-A Fresno with three other players.

Others optioned were right-handers Osiris Matos and Billy Sadler and left-hander Patrick Misch. Infielders Luis Figueroa and Justin Leone were reassigned to Minor League camp, trimming the spring roster to 38.

The score was tied, 5-5, in the ninth when Lewis grounded an infield single up the middle with two outs off Jason Standridge. Second baseman Fernando Cortez's off-balance throw skipped away from first baseman Mike Stodolka, enabling Lewis to reach second. Jason Ellison beat out a chopper to third baseman Alex Gordon, whose throw also eluded Stodolka's grasp. That allowed Lewis to score the winning run.

Coming up: What's next for the Giants? Try rounds of golf, leisurely naps and just sitting around doing nothing. They receive their only scheduled off-day of the spring Monday. They'll go back to work Tuesday with an exhibition game against the Texas Rangers at Surprise Stadium. Right-handers Russ Ortiz of the Giants and Robinson Tejeda of the Rangers are the probable starting pitchers.

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.