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Shark excited to work on split-finger fastball

Belt, Sandoval, Slater star offensively vs. D-backs
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As is the case with most Spring Training pitching performances, Jeff Samardzija's outing Tuesday in the Giants' 14-12 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks wasn't as bad as the statistical line indicated.

Making his first Cactus League appearance, Samardzija allowed four runs (two earned) and three hits in 1 1/3 innings. San Francisco's No. 3 starter dwelled not on the offense that Arizona generated against him, but instead focused on the fact that he was able to work on his split-finger fastball, a delivery he gained command of late last season. It helped Samardzija lead the National League with 207 2/3 innings and amass 205 strikeouts.

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- As is the case with most Spring Training pitching performances, Jeff Samardzija's outing Tuesday in the Giants' 14-12 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks wasn't as bad as the statistical line indicated.

Making his first Cactus League appearance, Samardzija allowed four runs (two earned) and three hits in 1 1/3 innings. San Francisco's No. 3 starter dwelled not on the offense that Arizona generated against him, but instead focused on the fact that he was able to work on his split-finger fastball, a delivery he gained command of late last season. It helped Samardzija lead the National League with 207 2/3 innings and amass 205 strikeouts.

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Spring Training information

"I'm excited about having that pitch," Samardzija said. "I think it came along for us last year as the season went on, but it definitely wasn't there early. To have that pitch from the beginning with that curveball really gives me two changes of speed and two changes of eye angles for the hitters."

Break out the bats

The Giants own a .340 team batting average after five Cactus League exhibitions, a figure that included Tuesday's 14-hit output vs. Arizona.

:: Spring Training coverage presented by Camping World ::

With the exception of Brandon Belt, however, it isn't the team's premier players who are most responsible for the offense.

Instead, check out Pablo Sandoval, who's projected for a backup role at the infield corners. Sandoval hit a fifth-inning, bases-loaded double, barely missing a grand slam. He's hitting .375.

Austin Slater, who's competing for a backup outfield spot, went 2-for-3 with a homer and two RBIs to hoist his batting average to .500.

Belt went 3-for-3 and is also hitting .500. His replacement at first base, non-roster invitee Kyle Jensen, belted a walk-off grand slam through developing rain to cap a six-run rally in the ninth inning that won it for the Giants.

Video: ARI@SF: Jensen belts a walk-off grand slam

Manager Bruce Bochy appreciated the offense, though he was concerned about the team's defense after Tuesday's four-error performance. The Giants committed six errors in last Friday's Cactus League-opening 6-5 loss to Milwaukee.

"It's been sloppy. There's no getting around that," Bochy said. "It's got to get cleaned up."

Bochy welcomes apparent Lincecum deal

Bochy believes former Giants right-hander Tim Lincecum, who reportedly struck a deal with the Texas Rangers, will thrive in his anticipated duties as a reliever. Lincecum excelled out of the bullpen during the 2012 postseason.

"He's so resilient," Bochy said. "I think that will be a role that can fit him. It doesn't take long for him to warm up."

Up next

The Giants will feature lefties aplenty on Wednesday as southpaws Ty Blach, Andrew Suarez and Steven Okert go to the mound against Milwaukee in Maryvale.

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, Brandon Belt, Jeff Samardzija, Pablo Sandoval, Austin Slater