SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Question: When does a ballplayer occupy two roles at once?Answer: When he's as fun-loving as Johnny Cueto.Preferring to give Cueto the work he needed in a controlled environment, the Giants sent the right-hander to the Minor League complex Saturday to face a band of D-backs farmhands. That
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Question: When does a ballplayer occupy two roles at once?
Answer: When he's as fun-loving as Johnny Cueto.
Preferring to give Cueto the work he needed in a controlled environment, the Giants sent the right-hander to the Minor League complex Saturday to face a band of D-backs farmhands. That group included one Jasrado Chisholm, an ambitious left-handed batter.
Chisholm, 19, struck out twice against Cueto, who laughed at the novice's overaggressive swings. Cueto felt compelled to serve as Chisholm's personal hitting coach.
"I was having fun with the kid," Cueto said through translator Erwin Higueros. "I was telling Chisholm to keep his eye on the ball, because every time he would swing, he'd look away from the ball."
Chisholm actually mustered a single off Cueto in their final encounter. Chisholm's sense of triumph might have been short-lived, because Cueto picked him off first base.
Otherwise, Cueto prepared for the regular season by throwing 85 pitches, including 58 strikes, in the equivalent of seven innings (his final inning lasted six outs; such is the nature of simulated exhibition games). He yielded six hits, walked one, struck out 10 and toyed with the Minor Leaguers.
"I feel good. I feel healthy. I feel strong," Cueto said.
The Giants rewarded industrious third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang with the Barney Nugent Award, given annually to the most outstanding player attending his first big league camp.
Hwang, who excelled in Korean professional baseball but yearned for a chance to demonstrate his skills in America, captured a vote cast by teammates, coaches and the athletic-training staff.
"He's been inspiring with how hard he's getting after it every day," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. He delivered that remark moments after Hwang, fittingly enough, blooped a bases-loaded, ninth-inning single to give San Francisco an 8-7 triumph over San Diego on Saturday.
Hwang owns a .308 batting average in 22 games and ranks among the most productive Giants with four home runs and 11 RBIs. Bochy has given him chances to demonstrate versatility by playing him at first base and left field.
"It was my first time coming over to the States to play baseball and I really wanted to work hard and show that I belong here," Hwang said through his interpreter, Mark Kim. "I think that my teammates have at least noticed a little bit about how hard I'm ready to work for the team."
Ramirez's right stuff
Bochy said that he had a chat with right-hander Neil Ramirez, the non-roster invitee who has been one of the most impressive relievers in camp. With a scoreless ninth inning Saturday, Ramirez trimmed his ERA to 1.93 with 16 strikeouts in 9 1/3 innings.
Bochy essentially wanted Ramirez to know that his efforts have not gone unnoticed.
"He's done all he can do to be on this club," Bochy said, adding that Ramirez's consistency has "been as good as anybody's."
Not as fortunate was non-roster right-hander Jose Dominguez, who was reassigned to Minor League camp. The move trimmed San Francisco's spring roster to 39 players.
Beede gets Bay Bridge start
Bochy said that right-hander Tyler Beede, the organization's top pitching prospect, according to MLBPipelne.com, will start Saturday's Bay Bridge Series finale at Oakland. Beede will begin the season at Triple-A Sacramento after posting a 0.96 ERA (one earned run in 9 1/3 innings) in five Cactus League appearances.
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.