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Playing loose, Morse hits first spring homer

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Michael Morse stops playing baseball, whether it's sooner or later, he'll have squeezed every last drop of joy from the game and savored it.

Morse's two-run, seventh-inning homer in the Giants' 6-5 victory on Wednesday over Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic team began a scoring surge that ended with Chris Marrero's two-run, walk-off homer in the ninth.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Michael Morse stops playing baseball, whether it's sooner or later, he'll have squeezed every last drop of joy from the game and savored it.

Morse's two-run, seventh-inning homer in the Giants' 6-5 victory on Wednesday over Puerto Rico's World Baseball Classic team began a scoring surge that ended with Chris Marrero's two-run, walk-off homer in the ninth.

Both players are here to prove that they can provide power. But while Marrero has three Cactus League homers besides Wednesday's (which doesn't count toward those statistics), Morse's long ball was his first in 17 overall at-bats.

Yet Morse refuses to yield to the pressure that comes with striving to make the Opening Day roster.

"I wish I could have played my whole career like that," said Morse, who broke into the Major Leagues in 2005 with Seattle. "They could still come to me and say, 'Hey, Mike, you did great. We just don't have room for you on the team. We didn't expect you to do well.' 'Hey, you know what? Thanks for the opportunity. I'm happy for you guys, and I'll be watching.' For me, there's no pressure, and I'm having so much fun."

Video: OAK@SF: Morse singles home Jones in the 7th inning

Here's how loose Morse can be: As he lounged in the clubhouse, awaiting his seventh-inning at-bat, he insisted to a reporter that his swing felt good, but he was just short of making truly solid contact.

"Let me go hit a home run," Morse said as he left the clubhouse for his plate appearance.

After Morse followed Hunter Pence's triple by connecting off J.C. Romero, he returned to the clubhouse and admitted that he hit the ball off the end of the bat. He doubted it would clear the wall, but he knew it would be at least a sacrifice fly.

Reviewing his emotional roller coaster at the plate, Morse crowed, "Yes, [Pence] is going to score! Oh! I am, too!"

This doesn't mean that Morse is laughing his way through Spring Training. In fact, he related that he and veteran utilityman Aaron Hill often review their at-bats on video immediately after they're finished.

"We're acting like this is the middle of the season," Morse said. "It's amazing how we have to try to lock in as a Minor League invitee."

For Morse to break camp with the Giants, he likely must prove that he can still play left field, where he was stationed for 221 of his 627 big league starts. But he hasn't set foot in the outfield during Cactus League games, while having logged 14 innings at first base -- where he has worked extensively this spring. Marrero, who has played six innings in left field, is in a similar situation.

"We'll try to get them out there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said, mindful that the Mac Williamson-vs. Jarrett Parker jostling for position in left requires that they spend the most time in that spot.

Morse insisted that he won't waste the Giants' time.

"I feel great, and I wouldn't be here right now trying to make the team if I didn't," Morse said. "That's how much respect I have for these guys. Any one of these days if I think I can't do it, I'll pack up and leave."

Worth noting

Right-hander Johnny Cueto looked remarkably sharp while throwing 65 pitches, a hefty total, off an auxiliary field mound in batting practice.

Cueto, who's scheduled to make his Cactus League debut on Saturday in a split-squad game against either Cincinnati or Arizona, said he will make two starts for the Giants before deciding whether to perform for the Dominican Republic in the World Baseball Classic.

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.

San Francisco Giants, Michael Morse