SAN FRANCISCO -- There's probably no way Ken Burns wouldn't stop by the ballpark when he's in town.
Burns is the Emmy Award-winning filmmaker and documentarian whose work includes the nine-part "Baseball" series released in 1994 and updated with "10th Inning" in 2010. He took a break from the Public Broadcasting System's annual meeting that's headquartered at a downtown hotel to toss Tuesday night's honorary first pitch before the Braves-Giants game.
Burns also took care of some business while visiting AT&T Park. He stopped by the Giants clubhouse to check in with the legendary Willie Mays, who attends most home games. Burns plans to interview Mays for a documentary on baseball pioneer Jackie Robinson. The two-part series will be released next year or early in 2016, Burns said.
Burns, 60, said that though he was born in Brooklyn and thus "had affection for" the Dodgers, Mays remains his favorite ballplayer.
"It doesn't matter where you're from. There's nobody better," Burns said, citing Mays' combination of "power, speed, intelligence [and] instinct."
Romo's quick return results in save
SAN FRANCISCO -- Sergio Romo appreciated the immediate chance for redemption that he received Monday night.
Entering the game after Atlanta's Freddie Freeman hit a ninth-inning, leadoff homer off Javier Lopez, Romo retired the next three Braves to earn his 13th save. It came one day after Romo surrendered Hanley Ramirez's two-run, ninth-inning homer at Los Angeles that tied the score and dealt the Giants closer his first blown save of the season after 12 conversions.
"For me, it's easier to forget by getting a chance right away," Romo said Tuesday. "What better game to get back in and get the job done, when Timmy [Lincecum] pitched the way he did, [Tyler] Colvin had the game that he had [homer, triple, three RBIs] and defensively we made plays? Everybody found a way to contribute, one way or another. There was no better game to get back on the horse."
One ominous fact remains: Romo already has allowed three homers, compared with five all last season. Arizona's Miguel Montero went deep off Romo on Opening Night, March 31, and Colorado's Justin Morneau homered off the right-hander on April 23.
Sanchez gets shot at first base
SAN FRANCISCO -- Managers like saying that players write the lineup card. That is, a player's performance, not the manager's preference, determines who starts and who sits.
If that's the case, then Hector Sanchez is knocking on Bruce Bochy's office door asking to use the manager's pen.
After a slow start, Sanchez entered Tuesday hitting .353 (12-for-34) in his previous 10 games. Overall, he ranked fifth on the team with 16 RBIs despite amassing just 64 plate appearances.
It was no coincidence that Sanchez started Tuesday at first base, a position he had played exactly once -- in a Cactus League exhibition.
Asked if Sanchez would be rewarded for seizing upon his chances to excel, Bochy said, "That's why he's out there today. He's been driving in some key runs. You try to find a way to get that bat in the lineup."
Bochy acknowledged that Sanchez's defense could be an issue. Even Sanchez admitted that mastering the proper footwork around the bag would challenge him. But, Bochy said, "He has pretty good hands and I think he can handle it. We'll have to see how it goes. With [Brandon] Belt out, we're going to get a little creative here."
Bochy reiterated that Michael Morse will receive the "lion's share" of playing time at first base during Belt's absence. But when a left-handed starter pitches for the opposition, as Atlanta's Mike Minor did Tuesday night, Bochy said he might use Sanchez or Buster Posey at first base. If Posey were to play first, Sanchez would catch. "I would like to get Hector out there as much as I can," Bochy said.
Sanchez insisted that didn't feel nervous about playing first. "Catching's harder," he explained.
Sanchez credited hitting coach Hensley Meulens for sparking his offensive surge. Three weeks ago when the Giants visited the Colorado Rockies, Meulens encouraged Sanchez after the switch-hitter's batting average dwindled to a season-low .120. "He told me, 'You know what kind of hitter you are. Don't put pressure on yourself. Trust your hands.' "
In the April 23 series finale, Sanchez delivered two homers, including an 11th-inning grand slam that lifted the Giants to a 12-10 victory. He has remained productive since.
Belt's absence could reach eight weeks
SAN FRANCISCO -- First baseman Brandon Belt had two pins inserted in his fractured left thumb Tuesday without complications.
"He's doing fine. That's all I know," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Belt could be sidelined longer than initially anticipated. The San Jose Mercury News reported that Belt might miss as many as eight weeks, contrary to previous six-week estimates. "It could be a little longer," Bochy acknowledged.
No matter how long Belt is sidelined, Bochy believed that the 26-year-old can make the most of his idle time by watching games closely.
"I think you learn so much," Bochy said. "It's the best visual teaching tool."
Bochy added that he often wished that players could switch roles with him and the coaching staff to broaden their knowledge of the game.
"Sometimes you get stuck in the specifics of your area instead of the concept of winning the ballgame," Bochy said.
Prospect Susac belts two homers for Fresno
Catcher Andrew Susac, the Giants' No. 4 prospect, hit two home runs Tuesday, leading Triple-A Fresno to a 7-4 victory at Reno.
It was the second multi-homer game of Susac's career. He finished the day 2-for-3 with a walk. In 21 games this season, he is hitting .329 with six home runs and a 1.061 OPS.
Susac suffered a concussion April 21 and spent more than two weeks on the disabled list. He has swung a hot bat since being activated from the DL last Thursday. In five games since returning to the lineup, he is hitting .444 with four home runs.
Susac got some help Tuesday from the rest of Fresno's offense. Second baseman Joe Panik, the Giants' No. 14 prospect, went 2-for-5 and hit his second homer of the season. Adam Duvall also added a home run, his 13th of the season. He is now tied for the Minor League lead.
Right-hander Heath Hembree, the Giants' No. 11 prospect, pitched a scoreless ninth for the save. He leads the Pacific Coast League with eight saves this season.