Brandon Belt A Hit With Autograph Collectors

SAN FRANCISCO — Brandon Belt hasn't taken an at-bat in the big leagues, but he's already a hit on the card show autograph circuit.

Belt traveled to the Bay Area in January to sign autographs at a show that also included manager Bruce Bochy and reigning National League rookie of the year Buster Posey.

No player in his first big league camp will be watched as closely this spring as Belt, who tore through three minor league levels in his pro debut last year and has an outside shot at making his major league debut on Opening Day.

Bochy keeps throwing open the door for the smooth, lefthanded hitting first baseman, saying he expects Belt "to make some noise" this spring. General manager Brian Sabean has been a little more reserved, saying it's likely Belt will begin the season at Triple-A Fresno—he played just 13 games there at the end of last season—and possibly be in position for a callup in May or June.

It's no secret that the Giants lineup needed to add another lefthanded bat over the offseason, but it took a club-record $120 million payroll just to keep together most of last year's World Series-winning roster while replacing Juan Uribe with Miguel Tejada. Bochy recognizes that Belt's sound, patient approach and hard contact could be just what the Giants need.

The club re-signed first baseman Aubrey Huff, but could move him to left field if Belt forces the issue. The Giants also might look harder at beginning the year with Belt if their left field candidates—Mark DeRosa, Pat Burrell—are injured or ineffective this spring.


• Brian Cooper, a former major league righthander, was promoted for the third consecutive season. He will serve as the pitching coach at high Class A San Jose.

• Outfielder Gary Brown, the Giants' first-round pick last year, also received his first invite to big league camp. Other notable prospect invitees include catcher Tommy Joseph, infielder Charlie Culberson, righthander Jason Stoffel and outfielder Juan Perez.