SAN FRANCISCO -- Online-only voting for the 2014 All-Star Game commenced Thursday, which signaled the arrival of the final push for this year's balloting. The Giants have the National League's second-best record but no players atop their positions in the voting.
Catcher Buster Posey is one of three players -- Brandon Crawford and Pablo Sandoval are the others -- in third at his position. Posey trails the Cardinals' Yadier Molina by roughly 900,000 votes and the Brewers' Jonathan Lucroy by more than 200,000 votes.
While the Giants have maintained throughout the season that they don't care about All-Star appearances, Posey's recent play has increased his worthiness to be the NL's starter behind the plate. Entering Sunday afternoon's game, he had hit safely in 21 of 24 games this month, good for a .367 average (33-for-90) in that span. Posey was second among NL catchers with a .293 average, fourth with nine home runs and tied for third with 40 RBIs on the season.
Fans can cast their votes for starters at MLB.com -- online or on a mobile device -- using the 2014 All-Star Game MLB.com Ballot Sponsored by Experian until Thursday at 8:59 p.m. PT. The 2014 All-Star Game will be played at Target Field on Tuesday, July 15, on FOX.
Romo to share closer duties after struggles
SAN FRANCISCO -- The next time the Giants carry a lead into the ninth inning, the big question will be who will try to preserve that advantage.
That's because Sergio Romo is no longer the team's full-time closer, manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday morning. After Romo's latest blown save Saturday night, Bochy has opted for a closer-by-committee approach, based on matchups, with Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Romo.
"I think it's time we tweak it a little bit," Bochy said. "He [Romo] has done a great job. It's fair to say he's having his struggles. We think we can help him late in the ballgame. He'll still be part of the mix, so we're going to back him off a little bit and do it by committee."
Bochy told Romo the plan in a meeting Sunday morning. Bochy said Romo was fine with the decision.
"It is what it is," Romo said after Sunday's 4-0 loss to the Reds. "I'm going to get a chance, and when I get a chance, I'm going to be ready to rock."
Romo was not used in the loss.
"It wasn't what he wanted to hear, but he's a team guy and he'll help out wherever we need him," Bochy said. "I think it's time to lighten the load on him a little bit.
"As a group, we've hit a bump in the road. As individuals, a lot of us had hiccups, so this is not a fun time for a manager to tell a closer you're going to change things a little bit, but sometimes you got to change things."
Romo has blown three consecutive saves at AT&T Park and has allowed 15 runs in his last 15 innings. Causing the problems, according to Bochy, is a combination of predictability (teams are well aware Romo's slider is his go-to pitch) and poor command, as hanging sliders have become commonplace. The Giants have seen Romo excel before; the hope is a reduced role allows him to regain All-Star form.
In his 13-year career, Affeldt has saved 28 games. He has 10 saves in six seasons with the Giants; the last came in 2012. Prior to being tagged for two runs on three hits in one-third of an inning Sunday, the left-hander had allowed just four runs on 20 hits in 27 innings this season and had allowed just one earned run in his last 15 appearances.
Casilla saved 25 games for the Giants in 2012 and has had an outstanding 2014 season, with four earned runs to his name on 18 hits in 30 2/3 innings. Casilla, who induced a double play to get the Giants out a ninth-inning jam Sunday, hasn't surrendered a hit in his last seven outings, a span of seven innings.
Bochy also stressed the need for Jean Machi to regain his form; Machi has allowed four runs over his last two outings. He'd allowed just one run in 33 prior appearances this season.
As for Romo's new role, Bochy anticipates a smooth transition.
"He's done that before, he's done a great job at it and I think he'll do a great job wherever we use him," Bochy said. "He's fine with it right now. How long this committee thing goes, I can't tell you, but hopefully it gets him going."
Belt making case to return to action soon
SAN FRANCISCO -- Brandon Belt remains on the fast track in his recovery from a broken left thumb. For the second consecutive day, the Giants first baseman's timeline has been accelerated.
Saturday, Belt was sent to Triple-A Fresno, two days ahead of schedule. Manager Bruce Bochy said he wouldn't be joining the Giants next weekend in San Diego, though. Sunday, Bochy changed his tune.
"There's a good chance of that," Bochy said. "We'll continue to evaluate him on how he's throwing and how he swings the bat, but he's doing well."
Bochy didn't rule out Belt playing for the Giants on Tuesday against the Cardinals, but he said he's not expecting that quickly of a return.
Belt, acting as the designated hitter, followed a 1-for-3 performance in Class A Advanced San Jose on Thursday with a 2-for-3 showing Friday that included a home run. He went 3-for-4 with two doubles for Fresno on Saturday night and added a solo homer in four at-bats Sunday while playing first base in a game for the first time since the injury.
Angel Pagan, the team's other injured starter, appears slightly closer to a Major League return. Bochy said Pagan took some swings Sunday and has been running on the treadmill.
Said Bochy: "Our hope is he'll be ready to go [Tuesday], but I can't say for sure."
Ryan Hood is an associate reporter for MLB.com. Follow him on Twitter @ryanhood19. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.