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Shark 'not where he wants to be' this spring

Veteran right-hander has been focusing on changeup
MLB.com @alysonfooter

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Veteran pitchers and Spring Training don't always mesh well, and the Giants will have to assume Jeff Samardzija's past two outings are not indicative of what's to come.

Samardzija isn't auditioning for anything, so he's afforded plenty of leeway during Cactus League play to do what he needs to prepare for the season. But it's notable that he's allowed six home runs over his past two outings, including three to the Padres in Thursday's 9-7 loss at Peoria Sports Complex.

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Veteran pitchers and Spring Training don't always mesh well, and the Giants will have to assume Jeff Samardzija's past two outings are not indicative of what's to come.

Samardzija isn't auditioning for anything, so he's afforded plenty of leeway during Cactus League play to do what he needs to prepare for the season. But it's notable that he's allowed six home runs over his past two outings, including three to the Padres in Thursday's 9-7 loss at Peoria Sports Complex.

While that isn't necessarily alarming -- it was a typically windy night -- the fact that Samardzija is sporting a 10.64 ERA over four spring outings can't be what the Giants were hoping for this late in Spring Training.

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"We want him to stay with the plan on all the stuff we have for these players as far as getting better, to improve," manager Bruce Bochy said. "With that said, yeah, I think it's fair to say Shark's not where he wants to be right now. He got his work in, he got his pitch count up. He's got to tighten some things up."

Samardzija coasted through the first two innings, retiring six straight. Then, the homers arrived -- solo shots by Chase Headley and Cory Spangenberg and a two-run homer by Eric Hosmer.

"It was a tale of two guys out there," Samardzija said. "I had some nice, quick innings, really doing what I want, and then a couple pitches were staying up and they were hitting them."

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Samardzija has been focusing on his changeup, which might explain some of the erratic results. Fastball command is, as he put it, his "bread and butter," but he's looking to take some of the predictability out of his sequencing. He'll be looking to be on more solid footing with this by the end of Spring Training.

"We're learning about it," Samardzija said. "Where to use it here and there, and obviously, we'll have that [split-fingered fastball] for late in the counts when the season starts. But for now, we're trying to mix that changeup in and see where it's at.

"That change of speeds is always something that I've needed and haven't had in my repertoire. To have that is good, and it's just another aspect you can go to out there."

Video: LAD@SF: Samardzija gets Pederson to go down looking

Samardzija has allowed at last four runs in three of his four outings this spring. He's yielded 10 runs over his past two starts.

"He has time to get where he needs to be right now," Bochy said. "We can get caught up in numbers, and I say this all the time: This is a tough place to find your stuff. Your ball's not moving like it normally does. I think you'll see him get better in the next couple starts."

Longo a go
Playing in back-to-back games for the first time since missing nearly a week with a sore heel, Evan Longoria singled in the fourth inning and appeared to have no issues defensively. Bochy said all starters, including Longoria, will start ramping things up, playing multiple games in a row in preparation for the season. How long they stay in the game will partly depend on how quickly the innings are moving along.

"A long game, real hot, 3 1/2, four hours, you won't see them out that long," Bochy said. "You get to the point of diminishing returns. At the same time, we need to get ready for the season, to start playing not just back-to-back games, but three, four in a row."

Remembering Augie
Count Giants first baseman Brandon Belt as one of the legions of former Longhorns mourning the passing of legendary University of Texas baseball coach Augie Garrido, who died Thursday from a stroke at the age of 79.

"I don't think I say 'I love you' to too many people outside of my family and my parents, but he was definitely a guy that I loved," Belt said. "He meant a lot to me. I probably wouldn't be in this position right now if I didn't play baseball at the University of Texas for Augie Garrido."

Belt played for Garrido's Longhorns from 2008-09, leading the team to the College World Series in '09. Belt remembered Garrido as a tough but fair coach and a terrific person whose care for his players extended beyond what was happening on the field.

"He was really concerned about turning his players into mature men, responsible men -- people who did the right thing," Belt said. "I think you'll see that over time when people talk about Augie. He just affected so many people. He's someone we'll never forget."

Up next
The Giants will enjoy their second off-day of the spring on Friday before reconvening for split-squad action on Saturday. Right-hander Chris Stratton, a top candidate to win a rotation spot, will start for the Giants against the Reds at Goodyear Ballpark at 1:05 p.m. PT. Lefty Ty Blach, who has also had a nice showing in his audition for a starting job, will take the mound against the A's at home at 4:05 p.m. PT on MLB.TV and MLB Network.

Alyson Footer is a national correspondent for MLB.com. Follow her on Twitter @alysonfooter.

San Francisco Giants, Jeff Samardzija