Perhaps it was the cold weather or the early start, but things didn't feel quite right during the first week of Cactus League exhibition games. Crowds were sparse at the five stadiums I visited, nothing close to a sellout, and that had to be an unusual feeling for any fan accustomed to visiting Arizona this time of year.
That all changed on a warm, sunny Friday at Phoenix Stadium, where the visiting Giants played the A's. Fans of both clubs packed the stands, orange and black mixing good-naturedly with green and gold, and San Francisco's 13-9 victory was never short on entertainment.
A few impressions:
-- Yoenis Céspedes' batting practice is not to be missed. He became an Internet sensation (again) when he defiantly put a weighted "doughnut" on his bat and slugged a home run off his manager, Bob Melvin, two weeks ago. He hit some titanic shots Friday, and for his last swing, he took one of those exaggerated, come-out-of-your-shoes swings. The ball carried far over the left-field fence and the dirt cliffs behind it, landing somewhere among the jackrabbits and the tumblin' tumbleweeds.
-- It must have felt this way when scouts followed Brandon Belt at the University of Texas. Totally comfortable with himself, his role and his swing, Belt hit three bullet singles that gave him five consecutive at-bats with a hit. He got his arms extended each time, and that's when he's most dangerous. If he learns to either time or lay off the inside pitch, tight to the body, he'll give the Giants a .300 season.

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