SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Jeff Suppan is facing a whole new situation, and a couple of outings against one of his former teams have helped his case for a starting job with the San Francisco Giants.
Suppan pitched three scoreless innings against Milwaukee for the second time this spring, and rookie Brandon Belt hit a two-run homer Friday to lead a split squad of Giants to a 7-2 victory over the Brewers."Suppan did a nice job," San Francisco manager Bruce Bochy said before traveling to nearby Glendale for the other split-squad game against the Los Angeles Dodgers. "He had good control and was pumping that strike zone, throwing quality strikes."Suppan retired nine straight batters, allowing one hit -- to Erick Almonte in the first -- and striking out two in his first exhibition start. His previous appearance against the Brewers was in relief on Feb. 28.Suppan, who has a career record of 138-143, said this is the first time since early in his career with Boston that he has not been assured of a starting spot. He is competing for the No. 5 slot in the Giants' rotation.The 36-year-old right-hander worked a lot on his sinker on Friday."The movement was there, although I was underneath it," he said. "Location is the key. Some I thought were good, some not so good."Suppan agreed to a minor league deal with the World Series champion Giants in January. He went 3-8 with a 5.06 ERA in 15 starts and 30 appearances last season with Milwaukee and St. Louis.He had mixed emotions about facing the Brewers again."I was around those guys for four years and saw what they like to do, but do I really know how a guy like Prince Fielder is going to approach me?" he said. "You try to figure out a sequence and go with it."Fielder grounded out in his only at-bat against Suppan.Belt, projected as a future starting first baseman, hit his first homer of spring training in a five-run first, a drove off sidearming right-hander Tim Dillard. Belt also singled in the third."When you get your first hit, your first home run, it's a good experience," the 21-year-old Belt said. "The more at-bats I get, the more I'm around here, the more comfortable I get. Aubrey and some of the other veteran guys have been very good to me."Huff gave him a big endorsement."You keep hitting like this and you'll make the team," he said.Catcher George Kottaras hit a solo homer in the fifth for Milwaukee, and closer John Axford pitched one inning in his first appearance of the spring after struggling with food poisoning."I liked the way the ball came out of his hand," Brewers manager Ron Roenicke said. "He was a little up in the zone, but I liked the way he threw."Roenicke, who worked in the Angels' organization the previous 11 years, will manage against his former team for the first time on Saturday."I don't know if it will be emotional, but it will be nice to see some of those guys," he said.
Giants closer Brian Wilson (back) appears to be on target to pitch for the first time on Sunday against Seattle. ... Bochy said RHP Matt Cain possibly will throw a side session on Saturday after missing Thursday's start with an inflamed right elbow. ... With reserve C Eli Whiteside slowed by a sore elbow, Chris Stewart has done a nice job filling in for San Francisco. The 6-foot-5 Stewart is 4 for 10 in six games, and he has displayed a strong arm and good baserunning instincts. He scored all the way from first base on Aaron Rowand's double in the sixth inning Friday.