Bochy wants rule change, Belt says L.A. can't buy chemistry

Bochy wants rule change, Belt says L.A. can't buy chemistry
February 9, 2013, 3:45 pm
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"Buster said no and Matt Cain said no, so they were stuck with me." -- Brandon Belt on introducing Carrie Underwood at the Country Music Awards. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SAN FRANCISCO – Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he hasn’t given up on trying to change a rule that would seek to protect catchers from getting targeted by baserunners in plays at the plate.

Bochy continues to caucus with other managers, and said MLB vice president of on-field operations, Joe Torre, “is getting a little more open minded.”

In arguing for a change, Bochy made reference to recent rules added in football to penalize helmet-to-helmet collisions or to protect defenseless punt returners.

“I just really believe we’ll carry off a catcher paralyzed if nothing is done," said Bochy, who was in favor of amending the rules even before Buster Posey sustained his season-ending left leg injury in 2011.

The manager shared those views as part of an otherwise laugh-tracked Q&A session with left-hander Madison Bumgarner and first baseman Brandon Belt at the team’s annual FanFest on Saturday.

The other newsy bit: When Belt was asked about the free-spending Los Angeles Dodgers, he replied, to a thunderous ovation, “All I can say is, you can’t buy chemistry.”

That statement will be sure to end up on a few blue bulletin boards.

Other highlights from the session:

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Bumgarner has a sneaky sense of humor. When Belt was asked what made the difference in his improved second half, the big left-hander interrupted: “I can answer that. I hit a home run before he did.”

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Bumgarner listed his start in Game 2 of the 2012 World Series as his best baseball moment, eclipsing his victory on Halloween night in the 2010 Fall Classic, because he had to pull himself out of a two-month slump when his teammates needed him most.

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The crowd laughed as Belt sheepishly recounted how he ended up introducing Carrie Underwood at the Country Music Awards.

“Buster said no and Matt Cain said no, so they were stuck with me,” Belt said. “I was so nervous. It ruined my day. Then I got up there and it was a blast.”

Getting a kiss from Carrie Underwood wasn’t bad, either.

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What music will be Belt’s walk-up song this year? He’s too self conscious to pick something. So he’s letting students from Hudson High School in his hometown vote on it.

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Bumgarner also was asked if he’d mind wearing the new caps designed to protect pitchers from line drives. They’re working on a model with a Kevlar lining that adds just 4 ounces.

“There’s no way,” said Bumgarner, pointing to Bruce Bochy, “that his hat is only going to weigh four ounces.”

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We know Bochy owns a 49ers cap that fits his famously large (8 1/8) noggin. What did he think of the Super Bowl?

“They played their hearts out,” Bochy said. “To be down like that and have a chance to win that game, they have a lot to be proud of.”

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Bochy, on a new rule that allows an interpreter to accompany him to the mound:

“I’m fortunate. I speak Southern. So when I go out to talk to Madison, I know what he’s saying.”

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Bochy said it’s “about time” the league outlawed the fake-to-third, throw-to-first move. It’ll be ruled a balk now. Bochy would like to see the spin-move to second base outlawed, too.

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Belt said his reaction upon winning the World Series was to “just look for someone to hug.”

Replied Bochy: “I’m learning about my players. I didn’t know you were such a hugger and a kisser. I’ll have to come over and give you a hug every day.”

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Bochy will be the NL All-Star skipper for the second time in three years, and he said he wouldn’t be afraid to pack the roster with deserving Giants again. That’s what he did two years ago, to some consternation. But hey, the NL team probably doesn’t win without Matt Cain, Melky Cabrera and Pablo Sandoval doing what they did last year.

Bumgarner still hasn’t made an All-Star appearance, so he began his lobbying early.

“We’ll see how they treat me,” Bochy said. “We’ll see how nice they are. I’ve got leverage.”

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Don’t count on a final game at Candlestick Park before it’s razed. But for Bochy’s part, he wouldn’t mind taking part in it. “I don’t think the players would mind, either,” he said, likely under the assumption thermal underwear would be issued prior to the first pitch.

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A touching moment kicked off the Belt/Bumgarner/Bochy Q&A session when a teary-eyed Giants fan presented them with a bouquet of orange roses in memory of his beloved grandmother, whose few lucid moments before she died in November came about while watching the Giants on television.

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And while we’re on the subject of the ones we love, here’s Bumgarner's advice on what makes a good Valentine’s Day gift.

“You can’t go wrong, every husband in here, if you give your wife a baby calf,” he said.

If you do, be warned: I’m not calf sitting for you.