SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Japanese second baseman Kensuke Tanaka looked as if he had played here all his life.
Infield surfaces at Cactus League ballparks can be tricky, since the sun-baked dirt can cause sharp or erratic hops. But Tanaka, who played second base for the last five innings of the Giants' 4-1 victory over a Los Angeles Angels split squad, responded flawlessly. He handled two ground balls, quickly turned a sixth-inning double play and dove to snare Chevy Clarke's grounder up the middle to start an eighth-inning double play.
"This is new to him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said of Tanaka, who excelled for the Nippon Ham Fighters in the Japanese Pacific League before signing a Minor League contract with the Giants last month. "I'm sure he was a little nervous."
Tanaka's also eager. He brought an outfielder's glove with him to camp, hoping to diversify himself and strengthen his chances of making the team. For now, he'll concentrate on second base and shortstop as he competes for a reserve infield spot.
Brown's goal is winning roster spot with Giants
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Gary Brown has replaced his I'm-just-glad-to-be-here attitude with a more purposeful outlook.
Invited to his third Major League camp, the Giants' No. 1 pick in the 2010 First-Year Player Draft intends to make an impact this time around by claiming an outfield vacancy on the Opening Day roster.
"I'm doing the best I can to make the team," said Brown, ranked the Giants' No. 2 prospect by MLB.com. "That's my goal."
Brown demonstrated his intent Saturday in the Giants' Cactus League opener, lining a sixth-inning double and scoring to contribute to a 4-1 victory over the Los Angeles Angels.
"I think I learned a lesson the last two years, coming here kind of lax," Brown said. "It showed in my play. So it's definitely the mindset you have. If you're here, every guy should be trying to make the team."
Conventional wisdom indicates that Brown, 24, will open the season at Triple-A Fresno. The Giants have advanced him one Minor League classification per year, and he's coming off batting .279 in 134 games with Double-A Richmond last season.
But Brown's ignoring that timetable for now, just as he's ignoring the skeptics who believe that he's too vulnerable to right-handed pitching to succeed in the Majors.
"When you face mostly righties and you're not doing too well, it's going to happen," said Brown, a right-handed batter. "I don't worry about that too much. I think I've had plenty of success my entire career, not just professionally, against righties. I think it's just the ebb and flow of the game."
Sandoval motors home for manufactured Giants run
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Pablo Sandoval felt as if he were falling behind while scoring Saturday's go-ahead run.
"Everybody was laughing," the third baseman said after the Giants' 4-1 victory over a Los Angeles Angels split squad in a Cactus League opener. "My first run was tough. I stepped on third base and home plate was moving away."
The vast ground Sandoval covered in the fourth inning created this optical illusion. After drilling a run-scoring single off Angels right-hander Billy Buckner, Sandoval broke from first base on a 2-1 pitch that Jackson Williams hammered to left field for a double. Not accustomed to spanning three bases at full speed, Sandoval nevertheless scored easily.
Sandoval recognized hints of the 2012 World Series campaign as the Giants manufactured their first run in classic fashion. Angel Pagan singled leading off and stole second base. Marco Scutaro's groundout to second base advanced Pagan to third, from where he scored on Sandoval's single.
"That was our game," Sandoval said. "Marco's going to do his job. Buster [Posey] and I are going to do our jobs and move the guy in."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.