March 2010

Spring notes: Posey Fresno-bound?

The San Francisco Giants reassigned pitcher Santiago Casilla to minor-league camp, cutting the spring roster to 38 players. Manager Bruce Bochy said the remaining 38 players will travel north for the four exhibition games in the Bay Area.

That means catcher Buster Posey will be heading north. But whether he’ll still be with the Giants when they open the season in Houston remains to be seen.

The Giants are considering keeping Posey with the big club and giving him 3 or 4 starts a week at catcher or first base. But with the Giants having the first four Thursdays of the season off, the prevailing thought in the organization is to send Posey to Fresno to catch every day. But Posey could get called on at the first sign of trouble.

Another player not likely to be on the opening day roster is outfielder Fred Lewis. Lewis hasn’t played in about week with a sore left side, which may land Lewis on the disabled list.

“We haven’t determined that yet, but that’s a possibility,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday. “We hope that’s not the case.”

Or maybe they do. Putting Lewis on the DL would at the very least delay a tough decision for the Giants. If they can hide Lewis away on the DL, it would give them time to see how outfielders John Bowker and Eugenio Velez perform during the regular season. If one or both struggle, they could then activated Lewis from the DL and send either one to the minors. Both Bowker and Velez have minor-league options. Outfielders Nate Schierholtz and Andres Torres are out of options, as is Lewis.

APRIL 27 DATE FOR VILLALONA: Giants prospect Angel Villalona faces an April 27 preliminary hearing on the murder charges against him in the Dominican Republic.

Villalona, 19, is charged with murder in connection with the shooting death of a man in a Dominican bar last September.

On April 27, the judge will consider if the evidence against Villalona is strong enough for the case to go to trial. Villalona is currently free on bond.

PREDICTION FOR GIANTS IN 2010: Not yet.

More Splash Hits predicted a 70-92 record in 2008 — the first post-Barry Bonds year when many talking heads were talking about a 100-loss season for the Giants. The Giants finished 72-90.

More Splash Hits predicted a 83-79 mark for 2009, when most thought the Giants’ lack of offensive punch would destine them to another 90-loss season. The Giants finished 88-74.

So what’s the call for 2010? Well, as the Giants are putting more of their roster decision off to the 11th hour, so we will likewise wait before making our prediction.

Stay tuned.

 

Spring training: Cubs 5, Giants 3

Todd Wellemeyer had another quality spring start, giving up three runs in seven innings of work, but the Cubs’ Chad Tracy hit a two-run home run in the eighth to give the Cubs a 5-3 win over the Giants on Tuesday.

Wellemeyer has not yet been told he is the Giants’ No. 5 starter. We’re not sure what the Giants are waiting for. But he has been told he will start Sunday’s exhibition game in San Francisco against the Seattle Mariners. That would put him on pace to start the April 10 home game against the Braves.

Tuesday’s game featured what could be the Giants’ opening day lineup: CF Aaron Rowand, SS Edgar Renteria, 3B Pablo Sandoval, 1B Aubrey Huff, LF Mark DeRosa, C Bengie Molina, 2B Juan Uribe and RF Andres Torres. Only Torres’ spot is not very certain. More Splash Hits still believe the Giants would be better off with DeRosa 2nd, Uribe 5th and Renteria 7th or 8th.

Inside the box score

Aaron Rowand was 3 for 3 with two doubles and a run scored. He tried for three doubles, but was thrown out at second.

Mark DeRosa was 2 for 4 with a double, his first spring home run, a run scored and two RBI. He also threw out the Cubs’ Marlon Byrd at home from left field.

Juan Uribe was 2 for 3 with a double.

Up next

The Giants play their final spring training game in Arizona on Wednesday when they face the Dodgers split-squad at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday. With the team set to break camp for their weekend series at home Thursday against the A’s, we wouldn’t figure to see too many regulars on the field. Minor-league Horacio Ramirez will get the start for the Giants. Tim Lincecum will make his final spring start Wednesday in a minor-league game against the A’s prospects.

Spring training: Giants 8, Brewers 6

Jonathan Sanchez struck out 11 batters in six stellar innings of work as the Giants notched their 20th win of the spring with an 8-6 win over the Milwaukee Brewers on Monday.

Sanchez gave up one run on three hits and two walks in six innings. The lone run came on a two-out solo home run by Rickie Weeks in the sixth.

In an odd side note Monday, both teams received a warning after Sanchez hit Prince Fielder with a 2-2 curveball on Monday. You’ll remember Fielder was hit by the first pitch thrown by Barry Zito in the first meeting between the two teams this spring. That pitch was a hold-over from a post-game celebration of Fielder’s last season against the Giants.

But that was such old news Monday that neither team thought there was any purpose to Sanchez’s pitch.

Sanchez said the curveball was inside “because if it is away, he will crush it.”

Brewers manager Ken Macha said he was unaware of the warning until reporters told him about it after the game.

“I’m pretty amazed at that, too,” he said of the warning. “That was not even an issue.”

Inside the box score

Nate Schierholtz had the kind of game he’s been looking for a while now. He was 2 for 4 with a double, triple, three runs scored, a walk and an RBI.

John Bowker kept the pressure on Schierholtz in the hunt for the RF starting job. He was 2 for 3 with a walk, double and a two-run home run — his fifth of the spring.

Eugenio Velez, playing 2B and CF, was 2 for 5 with two runs and two RBI.

Travis Ishikawa, playing 1B and LF, was 2 for 4 with two RBI.

Up next

Expect most of the opening starters to be in the lineup when the Giants face the Cubs in their spring home finale at 1:05 p.m. in Scottsdale. That’s because the Giants final Arizona spring game in Wednesday against the NL West rival Dodgers. The date is a split-squad day for the Dodgers, and most of the Giant regulars will be preparing to make the move north to start a weekend series against the A’s in the Bay Area on Thursday. Todd Wellemeyer gets the start Tuesday.

Spring notes: Decision time for Giants

Opening day is about a week away, and the Giants have a lot of key decisions ahead of them this week. At least one of those decisions could be announced today. Other decisions might not come until the 11th hour of spring training.

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle has his own take on what the 25-man roster will look like when the season opens. You can look at his predictions here.

To sum up Schulman’s picks: Eli Whiteside is the backup catcher over Buster Posey; the Giants go outfield-heavy with John Bowker, Eugenio Velez and Andres Torres making the team; Matt Downs goes to Fresno; Fred Lewis is likely gone altogether and Todd Wellemeyer is the No. 5 starting pitcher.

Schulman may find out if he’s right on Wellemeyer on Monday. The Giants are expected to announce their choice for the No. 5 spot.

As for Posey, GM Brian Sabean seemed to hint that Posey could make the Opening 25 during Thursday’s Giants broadcast. However, he then seemed to clarify — sort of — those remarks to MLB.com’s Chris Haft on Friday.

Sabaen said Thursday that the Giants likely would take Posey north. But that could only mean that he would remain with the team through the preseason series against the A’s in the Bay Area and the Easter game at AT&T Park against the Mariners. Then, he could be sent to Fresno.

“We’ll keep him to the end,” Sabaen told Haft on Friday. “I don’t know that the actual decision will need to go to the end. I think, internally, we know what we’re going to do. But obviously we’re going to hold that close to the vest because it’s subject to change and you never know what might happen.”

Ah, well, that just cleared up everything. So stay tuned on the catcher position.

OUTFIELD SHUFFLE: According to Schulman’s roster, the Giants will carry John Bowker, Nate Schierholtz, Eugenio Velez and Andres Torres on the Opening 25.

That would leave the Giants short on infielders, until Freddy Sanchez is set to return. But Mark DeRosa’s ability to play the infield, as well as Velez’s, give the Giants options.

As far as the starter in right field, the situation remains cloudy. Nate Schierholtz continues to tinker with his swing. On Sunday, in a minor-league, he threw off the battling gloves and went back to swinging bare-handed.

Meanwhile, the Giants were trying to figure out if John Bowker deserved a shot to start. He started in right field on Sunday. But there have also been discussions of starting Mark DeRosa in right, even though he hasn’t played an inning there at all this spring. Starting DeRosa in right would allow Bowker to start in left.

This decision likely won’t come until the Giants return to San Francisco on Thursday. Play close attention to who is playing right field at AT&T Park when the Giants face the A’s on Thursday and Friday. By the way, both games are on the MLB Network.

There are three things the Giants could do this week with Fred Lewis, and none of them likely are keeping him on the opening day roster. One, they could find a partner to complete a trade with. Two, they would place him the DL. He’s been battling a strained rib cab. Three, they could designate him for assignment, i.e. cut him.

CAIN IS ABLE: Like Lincecum will do later this week, Matt Cain pitched against minor leaguers on Sunday. Why? So that he wouldn’t face an NL West opponent so close to the regular season. The Giants played the Padres on Sunday.

Cain pitched five no-hit inning against Giants Double-A players before giving up three runs in the sixth. He finished with a solid seventh inning.

 

 

Spring training: Padres 7, Giants 0

Kevin Pucetas, a batle for the No. 5 starting pitching spot, took a hit on Sunday, giving up two runs on four hits and two walks in three innings as the Giants were shut out by former Giant Kevin Correia in a 7-0 loss to the Padres on Sunday.

Indications are that Todd Wellemeyer is about to be named the No. 5 starter. So Sunday’s outing may not have mattered as to Pucetas’ status.

If there was some good news on the mound for the Giants Sunday, it was that Brian Wilson, Jeremy Affeldt and Guillermo Mota each threw scoreless innings late — although Wilson made it a bit exciting by giving up two hits and a walk in his inning of work.

Inside the box score

Aaron Rowand was 1 for 3 with a walk.

Edgar Renteria was 1 for 3.

Pablo Sandoval was 1 for 3.

Aubrey Huff was 1 for 3 with a double.

John Bowker, getting the start in right field, was 1 for 3.

Matt Downs, entering late and playing some 1B, was 2 for 2 with a double.

Buster Posey continued his late-spring slump, going 0 for 2.

Up next

Jonathan Sanchez takes to the mound as the Giants (19-9) play the Brewers at 1:05 p.m.

Giants lock up 3 pitchers to extensions

The Giants confirmed they have agreed to extensions with pitcher Matt Cain, Jeremy Affledt and Brian Wilson.

The terms for Cain are a bit sketchy. but Andrew Baggarly of the San Jose Mercury News reports that Cain will receive $4.5 million 2010, $8 million in 2011 and $15 million in 2012.

The deal buys out Cain’s first year of free agent, and it keeps fourth-fifths of the Giants’ starting rotation under team control through 2012. Cain is now signed through 2012, Lincecum is arbitration-eligible through 2013, Jonathan Sanchez is arbitration-eligilble through 2012, and Barry Zito is signed through 2013 with a club option for 2014 (although it is exceedingly doubtful that club option will be picked).

Affledt will get an extra $500,000 on top of his $4 million salary for the second year of the two-year deal he signed with the club in 2009. He’ll receive $4.5 million in 2011 and there’s $5 million option for 2012.

Wilson receives $6.5 million in 2011 and $8.5 million in 2012.

Spring training: Angels 4, Giants 3

Save for two pitches, Barry Zito had a solid outing against the Angels. But those two pitches were enough to lift the Angels to a 4-3 win over the Giants on Saturday.

Zito gave up four runs on six hits and one walk in 5 1/3 innings. The two big hits were a two-run home run by Bobby Abreu in the third, and run-scoring double by Torii Hunter in the sixth.
Other than that, Zito looked strong in his final start this spring in Arizona, retiring seven in a row during one stretch.
“I feel good, healthy,” Zito said. “Everything is working pretty good.”
The Giants hitters had a fourth inning that — had it happened during the regular season — would have had Giant fans leaping into the bay.
San Francisco loaded the bases with no one out on singles by Pablo Sandoval, Bengie Molina and Juan Uribe. But the Giants failed to score when the next three batters struck out. Stuck out … when the situation calls for contact. 
Fortunately, all three batters were players who may not be in the opening day starting lineup — Buster Posey, Nate Schierholtz and Travis Ishikawa. 
The Giants got it right in the fifth inning however after loading the bases again on a walk to Andres Torres, a single by Mark DeRosa and a walk to Sandoval. Bengie Molina delivered a bases-clearing double to put the Giants up 3-2.
Inside the box score

Torres was 1 for 4 with a double and run scored
Molina was 2 for 4 with a double and three RBI
Uribe was 2 for 3
Schierholtz was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts. He’s hitting .220 this spring.
Buster Posey, after a hot spring, has cooled off some, going 0 for 4, leaving six runners on base.
Up next
Kevin Pucetas gets the start as the Giants face the Padres at 1:05 p.m. Sunday.

Frandsen traded to Red Sox

The Giants’ opening day roster came into clearer focus Friday when the Giants announced they had traded second baseman Kevin Frandsen to the Boston Red Sox for a player to be named later.

The Giants also optioned outfielder Darren Ford to Double-A and outfielder Francisco Peguero to Class A. They also reassigned pitcher Tony Pena and first baseman Jesus Guzman to minor league camp.

The moves cut the Giants’ spring training roster to 39 players. The trade of Frandsen was also important because it opened a spot on the team’s 40-man roster. That’s important because pitchers Todd Wellemeyer and Guillermo Mota are non-roster invitees who are strong candidates to make the opening day roster. If both make the club, someone else on the 40-man roster would have to go, most likely outfielder Fred Lewis.

For more on the Frandsen trade and his career with the Giants, click here.

Spring training: Giants 5, Angels 3

Tim Lincecum had his best outing of the spring. However, the two-time Cy Young Award winner only last four innings in the Giants’ 5-3 win over the Los Angeles Angels on Friday.

Lincecum gave up just one run on six hits and two walks. He also struck out seven batters and threw 84 pitches in his four innings of work.

Lincecum also developed a tiny cut on the middle finger of his throwing that kept manager Bruce Bochy from sending him back out to the mound in the fifth inning.

Friday’s start figured to be Lincecum’s last against spring training start against major league competition. His next turn in the rotation is slated to come Wednesday, when the Giants face the Dodgers. But Lincecum is more likely to start in a minor league game or instraquad game for two reasons — one, it allows the pitcher to work on his mechanics in a more relaxed atmosphere, and two, it keeps an NL West rival from getting a close look at Lincecum so close to the start of the season.

For more on Lincecum’s outing Friday, click here.

Inside the box score

Aaron Rowand continued to tear it up this spring, going 2 for 3 with a double, triple, run scored and RBI.

John Bowker came off the bench to play a few innings in right field as he made his push not only to make the club, but maybe win the starting RF job. He was 0 for 2 from the plate.

Andres Torres was 1 for 3 with a walk and two stolen bases

Buster Posey came off the bench to double home Torres with the tying run in the eighth as the Giants rallied for three runs in the frame.

Eugenio Velez got the start at 2B. He was 2 for 4, but also committed an error.

Travis Ishikawa played a little LF as the Giants tried to see what versatility in the field the normal first baseman has.

Up next

Barry Zito takes to the mound as the Giants face the Angels again at 1:05 p.m. Saturday. The game will air at 2 p.m. on a tape-delay basis on MLB Network, again for no apparent reason.

Posey likely to open season with Giants, GM says

Buster Posey likely will be on the opening day roster, Nate Schierholtz might not necessarily be the opening day right fielder, and it looks like Todd Wellemeyer will be the No. 5 starting pitcher.

These are some of things Giants fans learned from watching Thursday’s broadcast between the Giants and A’s.

Giants general manager Brian Sabaen took time out to talk with broadcasters Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow on Thursday and revealed that the team is close to making some key roster decisions.

Schierholtz has struggled this spring and has not locked down the opening day right field job.

“We just had a meeting. … (Schierholtz) hasn’t really stepped up, and it’s wide open,” Sabaen said of the battle for the right field job. “Bowker is probably the hottest hitter on the team, for whatever that means. We’re going to see him a little bit more in right field. So, it’s an open competition, which is good.”  

The battle for the backup catcher position also appears set to go to Posey.

“I’m pretty sure we’ll take him north, just for the experience alone,” Sabaen said of Posey. “It’s ahead of what we were going to do. But we’ll let the clock decide that. He’s on the field as much as we can get him out there.”

Manager Brucy Bochy said the Giants will “announce something here real soon” on who will be the Giants’ No. 5 starting pitcher.

Since the quote came right after Wellemeyer had another solid spring outing, it would seem to indicate the veteran has secured the job.

Sabean said whoever loses the battle for the No. 5 spot — Wellemeyer or Kevin Pucetas — likely will move to the bullpen.

Sabean also noted that the Giants won’t skip their No. 5 pitcher in the rotation, meaning all five pitchers will make their turns every five games in April.

So Lincecum will start opening day against the Astros, followed by Barry Zito and Matt Cain. Jonathan Sanchez will pitch the home opener against the Braves. Then Wellemeyer or Pucetas on Saturday, followed by Lincecum on Sunday.

Sabaen noted that the Giants will open the season with 12 pitchers on the roster.

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