Like Zito, Chronicle report misses mark

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San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy spoke out vehemently Wednesday against a report in the San Francisco Chronicle that suggested Barry Zito’s spot in the Giants’ rotation is not assured.

Bochy, speaking to the media prior to Wednesday’s game against the Arizona Diamondbacks, said Zito remains the team’s No. 4 starter and the skipper conveyed that point to the left-handed pitcher earlier Wednesday.

The report, by Chronicle columist Bruce Jenkins, said a source close to the team indicated that there is “exasperation” with Zito and his status in the Giants’ rotation was “definitely not safe.”

The report went on further to say the team would even consider buying out his contract before Opening Day.

The report surprised MoreSplashHits, particularly the latter portion considering that the Giants still owe Zito almost $60 million over the next three years, and that doesn’t even include the $7 million buyout for 2014.

The report surprised Zito, too.

“Obviously it was a shock,” Zito told CSNBayArea.com of seeing the column. “I’d love to know who these source are, but I know enough about the media to know that we’ll probably never know who they are. It’s a little frustrating because I pride myself on being accountable. … Unfortunately, not everyone’s as big on accountability as other people.”

Bochy denied the Chronicle’s report.

“Believe me, there has been no conversation anywhere near what the article was about,” Bochy said.

MoreSplashHits has worked in the print media for 20 years, and we hate unnamed sources — most of the time.

There are times when unnamed sources are helpful, like when a team or an agent wishes to control the release of information. For example, a team might say “We have a major announcement tomorrow at noon.” That means something has already been decided and we’ll announce with pomp and circumstance tomorrow. Getting the inside info from an unnamed source to tell you what has been decided is fine in that scenario.

But a columnist to come in a use unnamed sources in this situation is probably driving the beat reporter nutty.

If this were a hard news story, the writer would have taken this information from the unnamed source and gone to someone in the Giants front office for a reaction, of some sort. Give someone like Bochy or Brian Sabean the chance to say “we haven’t made any final decisions of that” or some sort of “no comment” or “those reports are patently false.”

It had also been suggested that this leak was planted by the Giants as a way to get Zito to fall into line. A good theory, until Sabean blew that up.

“Absolutley, unequivocally not,” Sabean said of the leak idea. “We have too much respect for players, and more so, I have a great relationship with Barry Zito. If thing had gotten to that point, I would have talked to him directly, firsthand.”

So it appears Jenkins used the unnamed sources to give credence to a viewpoint that is in line with what the writer is trying to express. Seeking a confirmation of this information would potentially undermine what the writer is trying to say. And that’s a dangerous game to play.

Jenkins finishes his thoughts on Zito with this: “Bank on this: There’s no way Zito will be wearing a Giants uniform in 2013.”

Really, Bruce? No way?

Zito is due to make $20 million in 2013. Wouldn’t the Giants try to get something for that? What if Zito finally gets it together? What if he takes the start he had last season and is able to carry that through an entire season? Remember he started last season 6-2 with a 2.78 ERA into June. Even late in the season, in September, when the Giants had their run of 18 consecutive games of allowing three runs or fewer, three of those starts were Zito starts.

That string ended with a Zito start in Colorado. His next start was on the penultimate day of the season when he walked home two runs in the first inning in a loss to the Padres. That start led to Zito being left off the postseason roster.

But he could come back and go 13-9 this season, maybe 15-10 next season. I don’t expect that, but it’s possible. The Giants are paying him big money and he’s never going to pitch up to that salary. But all he has to do is pitch like a serviceable No. 4 or 5 starter and eat up some innings. But not too many innings, he has an $18 million option that kicks in 2014 if he reaches certain inning-pitched thresholds.

Zito said he was most upset with the notion that’s he’s not in good shape. But he will continue to work and the rest “is out of my control.”

Yikes! Once again, another example of how major league players need MoreSplashHits to help them with their public relations.

Barry! You saying “out of my control” is a poor choice of words.

To read more about the Giants support of Zito, click here.

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