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Adjusting LaMonte Wade Jr. feels like his best swing ‘is coming’



Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

PHOENIX — LaMonte Wade Jr. is confident in the process and believes this will turn.

There likely is not enough time for him to skirt around that corner to make the Opening Day roster, though.

Wade has struggled in camp and is working on a swing adjustment, trying to hit the ball out front more and seems to have a bit of a more pronounced front-leg kick, which the Giants hope will generate more power out of his swing. It’s a project that takes time, and there is not much before the season begins April 1.

After his 1-for-3 day Monday, the 27-year-old is 7-for-33 (.212) this spring with one extra-base hit, a home run. He has struck out 13 times.

“I feel like it’s coming,” Wade said during the 7-2 loss to the White Sox at Camelback Ranch. “Been working hard in the cages with the new move that’s been going on. I know I haven’t really been getting the results that I like.”

Brandon Belt’s uncertainty opens a hole on the roster, and Wade and Jason Vosler have seen time at first. Wade is probably the better defender, but Vosler has separated himself with an impressive bat that’s hitting .333 in the Cactus League.

Wade has acquitted himself well defensively and nearly made a tremendous diving catch in center on Monday, but the better hitter is generally the Giants’ choice.

The most power Wade had shown with Minnesota, before he was flipped to San Francisco for Shaun Anderson, was knocking 11 homers in 495 minor league plate appearance in 2018. The Giants think there’s more there, but it may take some time to extract.

“[I am] so used to just being back and stuck on my backside, so this new move of going forward — try to catch the ball out front, but I’m going a little too far out to try and go get it,” said Wade, who singled to right. “Just trying to blend it back and let the ball come to me a little bit. So that’s the biggest key right now. It felt good to put the ball in play today, so I feel like that’s the first step.”

To his credit, Wade has walked four times. Gabe Kapler has been happy with his at-bats.

“They haven’t always ended in damage or necessarily on base,” the manager said, “but I feel like he’s done a really good job of picking pitches to swing at and leaving ones he can’t drive alone.”

The Giants were being no-hit against Lucas Giolito until there were two hits in the fifth, when big lefty Logan Wyatt grounded one down the third-base line against a somewhat shifted defense, the chopper getting by Yoan Moncada.

Dominic Leone, a righty non-roster invite, got two outs and struck out one without allowing a baserunner. He’s now struck out 10 in 6 2/3 innings while allowing three runs, one earned.

“He’s really put his best foot forward, and I think he’s demonstrated both command and stuff,” Kapler said. “He’s shown why he’s had some success at the major league level with Toronto. I think he’s done a really nice job so far.”

Alex Wood, after an ablation procedure to his lower back last week, threw a bullpen session with a fastball around 89-91 mph, Kapler said.

“Came out feeling really good,” the manager reported.

The next step will be a live batting practice, after which they can get a better reading of whether the lefty will be available the first turn through the rotation.

Rule 5 pick Dedniel Nunez will have Tommy John surgery on March 30 with Dr. Neal ElAttrache.

The loose plan is to get Evan Longoria (plantar fasciitis) a start at third base and Brandon Belt (offseason heel surgery, mono) into a game this week.

Belt took swings off Johnny Cueto in Monday’s sim game, and while Kapler said he had to talk with trainer Dave Groeschner first, he said they would like him to get a pinch-hit at-bat and then some time in the field. His best guess at a Cactus League debut was Thursday.

Last year’s assistant pitching coach, Ethan Katz, is now the White Sox pitching coach. Plenty of Giants coached caught up with him after the game, including Kai Correa, Alyssa Nakken, Ron Wotus, Antoan Richardson and Andrew Bailey.