Trying to find some good news out of spring training camp Wednesday for the San Francisco Giants would take some searching.
It was a bad day all around. Hopefully, in a couple of days, it won’t seem so bad. But we’ll see.
It started with Brian Wilson throwing in the bullpen and eventually being told to stop after a few minutes.
Where that puts Wilson’s status for opening day next week depends on who you ask.
Wilson gave the impression that Wednesday’s workout was just another step on the road to getting ready. But manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants would not rush to get Wilson ready for the opener, suggesting that he may open the season on the disabled list.
“We’re running short on time,” Bochy said. “This isn’t the time to rush Willie back.”
Then, when the game started against the Angels, Matt Cain got tagged for five first-inning runs in his second start back from elbow inflammation.
The bad inning started with a swinging bunt single by Erick Aybar. Howie Kendrick singled sharply up the middle. Then Bobby Abreu hit an 0-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run homer. After Torii Hunter walked and stole second, Cain got Vernon Wells and Albert Callaspo to fly out (more on the second out later). Mark Trumbo followed with deep double to left-center to score Hunter. Trumbo then scored on a single by Jeff Mathis.
In the second and third innings, Cain surrendered no runs on two hits, no walks and two strikeouts.
The good news is that Cain said he felt good after the start, encouraged that he felt as strong at the end of his three innings as he did at the start. But he added he was “out of rhythm” which caused some pitches to leak out over the plate.
It was the third consecutive uneven start by Giants pitchers, following Madison Bumgarner’s rough start Sunday against the A’s, and Tim Lincecum’s outing Monday against the Rockies in a game that was eventually called for rain.
The end result Wednesday was an 8-0 loss to the Angels, the third consecutive loss for the Giants and the fourth in their last five games.
But the biggest loss Wednesday was that off right fielder Cody Ross. Ross suffered a strained calf on a fairly routine fly ball off the bat of Callaspo.
Ross limped off the field on his own power and went for an MRI. The Giants announced late Wednesday that Ross had sustained a strained calf. Just how long he’ll be sidelined likely won’t be know until Thursday.
It’s funny how quickly things can change. Last week, the season couldn’t start quickly enough for the Giants. And now, they wouldn’t mind a few more days to get ready.
But the season is rapidly approaching.
Barry Zito will take the mound as the Giants face the Indians Thursday night. Madison Bumgarner makes his final Cactus League start Friday night against the Royals.
Saturday is a split-squad day, with a day game against the Reds and a nightcap vs. the Indians. Lincecum is due to make his final spring start, but we’re not sure which game he will pitch. Jonathan Sanchez will cap the Arizona portion of the spring schedule against the Royals on Sunday.
On Monday, the Giants return home to open a three-game set against the A’s. Cain would pitch Monday at AT&T Park; Zito goes Tuesday in Oakland and Bumgarner would pitch Wednesday afternoon back at AT&T before the team heads to LA to open the 2011 season at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.
Bruce Bochy caused a stir Sunday when he started Brandon Belt at first base and Aubrey Huff in left field during a split-squad game against the Oakland A’s.
It was the first time this spring that Huff has played left field, leading many to speculate that the Giants are strongly considering having Belt open the season with the Giants and not the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.
Bochy has said all spring that if Belt stays with the big club to open the season, he would need to play every day. And for that to happen, he would need to outperform Pat Burrell — the presumed starter in left field — this spring.
So let’s look at the numbers.
Belt — 14-for-52 (.269), 9 runs, 5 doubles, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB (.321 OBP).
Burrell — 10-for-39 (.256), 6 runs, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 7 BB (.370 OBP).
So, from those numbers, Belt has not outperformed Burrell this spring. But the way Belt has hit the ball, even his outs have been loud this spring, giving the Giants a moment of pause before making their final roster decisions.
“I’ll see where we are this coming week. You may see it again,” Bochy said of the Belt/Huff defensive alignment.
While the thought of Belt in the everyday Giants lineup may be tantalizing to some Giants fans, there are several good reasons why he should open the season in Fresno.
THE GIANTS DON’T NEED HIM: Last year, the big cry to get Buster Posey up to the big club was fueled by the Giants’ offensive shortcomings. It was frustrating to watch Posey rake at Fresno while the Giants were losing games 2-1 or 1-0. But the lineup the Giants will send out to start 2011 is basically the same one that won the World Series last fall. So there’s no burning need to push Belt quicker than necessary.
ORGANIZATIONAL DEPTH: The Giants already will face a decision in the next week to unload Nate Schierholtz or Travis Ishikawa. Barring an injury, there won’t be room on the 25-man roster for both, and both players are out of minor-league options. However, if Belt makes the big club, the Giants would need to part with both Schierholtz and Ishikawa. Then what happens if someone goes on the DL? Who do the Giants call on from Fresno to fill that hole? What if Belt show he’s not ready to hit in the majors? Success during the spring doesn’t always translate into success in the regular season. If Belt gets sent back to Triple-A, who do the Giants call on to replace him if Ishikawa and Schierholtz are playing elsewhere?
PLAYING BELT MEANS SOMEONE ELSE SITS: As it is, the Giants already have more outfielders than starting outfield spots. Pat Burrell looks to be the frontrunner to get most of the starts in left field. But we could easily see Aaron Rowand and Mark DeRosa get some outfield starts during the week. But if Belt is starting at first, then Huff starts in left. That buries Burrell on the bench. We know how Pat the Bat struggled as a DH in Tampa. How might we expect him to fare as a pinch-hitter or an occasional starter in left?
MIDSEASON SPARK: We can’t underscore the spark that Buster Posey brought to the Giants’ lineup when he got called up last season. If Belt opens in Fresno, he could provide a similar midseason spark if the Giants’ offense slumps in 2011.
RELIEVES PRESSURE FROM BELT: If Belt opens at Fresno and gets a midseason call, it would be a less stressful indoctrination to the majors than putting him in the opening day lineup and having to deal with the pressure that would go along with that. Belt appears to be the kind of player who could deal with those pressures. But if the Giants don’t need him, it would be better to put him in the best environment to succeed. And that may be very well be at Fresno to open the season.
THE ARBITRATION CLOCK: If Belt opens the season in the majors (and stays there all season), he would be eligible for arbitration after the 2013 season. At that time, the Giants would also be dealing with the arbitration cases of Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. Added to that, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson would be potential free agents after the 2013 season. Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez would be potential free agents after 2012. That would be a lot of money for the Giants to shell out, perhaps too much to keep all those players. However, if Belt remains in the minors to open the season, the Giants could potentially push his arbitration eligibility to after the 2014 season.
Not sure what to make of this, but apparently Tim Lincecum often gets a big case of the munchies.
In a USA Today article last week, the Giants right-hander revealed that he is a regular at In-N-Out burger. No surprise there. I mean, that IS what a hamburger is all about.
But when we heard what Lincecum orders regularly at his visits to In-N-Out, even MoreSplashHits was taken aback.
Lincecum says his order includes three Double-Doubles, two orders of fries and one chocolate-strawberry shake.
All tallied, that order comes to 3,150 calories. And that doesn’t even include the lettuce and tomatoes, which Lincecum holds from his Double-Doubles.
“I’m not a big vegetable guy,” Lincecum told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.
Lincecum also holds the cheese from his burgers, which technically doesn’t make it a Double-Double. Double-Doubles get their names from double patties, double cheese.
MoreSplashHits understands Lincecum’s love for In-N-Out. In my younger days while growing up in Southern California, my friends and I would regularly attend Friday night games at Dodger Stadium. Afterwards, we would make a pilgrimage to In-N-Out — or Original Tommy’s for chili cheesburgers (let’s home Lincecum doesn’t discover Tommy’s).
In-N-Out is one thing MoreSplashHits misses about Southern California after living in the Pacific Northwest for the past two decades.
But even in our best days (or worst, depending on our point of view), my friends and I could not manage to devour what Lincecum regularly consumes at In-N-Out.
MoreSplashHits went looking for the daily recommended caloric for a 26-year-old male who is 5-foot-11, 168 pounds. Given Lincecum’s job description, we said Lincecum was “extremely active.”
So the recommended daily caloric intake came to just under 3,500 calories. So that leaves Lincecum about 350 calories for breakfast and lunch if he dines daily at In-N-Out.
So it should come as no surprise that Lincecum has added 11 pounds this spring. Not that anyone would notice it by looking at him.
When asked if he had any idea what his cholesterol level was, Lincecum laughed, “Probably not very good. But my metabolism is through the roof.”
Maybe so, but Giants fans can only hope that Lincecum finds a bit of moderation when it comes to his favorite fast-food restaurant. And perhaps he could cut back on other bad habits that might lead to increased culinary cravings.
If not, then next fall’s favorite Halloween costume of Giants fans will be a Lincecum wig under a paper hat, accessorized with a white apron held up by a gigantic safety pin — topped off with a defibrillator.
A strange this happened Sunday in the desert. The Giants lost — TWICE!
In their final split-squad games of the spring, the Giants fell 3-2 to the Cubs in 10 innings and 6-4 to the Athletics.
Against Oakland, the Giants struggled to mount much offense against the A’s Brandon McCarthy, who limited the Giants to no runs and three hits through six innings.
But he left the game after Brandon Belt and Ryan Rohlinger collected back-to-back singles to open the eighth. Andres Torres walked to load the bases, and Freddy Sanchez got a run-scoring groundout. Then Aubrey Huff belted a three-run home run.
On the pitching side, Madison Bumgarner had a bumpy outing when he apparently lost focus from a tight strike zone.
Bumgarner set the A’s down in order in the first, thanks to a double-play ball.
But in the second, he opened with back-to-back walks. Then after fielding a comebacker from Ryan Sweeney, he looked to third, then changed his mind and threw wildly to first, allowing two runs to score.
After that, he gave up three consecutive singles and a sacrifice fly to plate two more runs. He ended the innings with strikeouts of Mark Ellis and Daric Barton. Bumgarner then got the hook, making just 40 pitches. No doubt he got in more work in the bullpen.
On a good note, Dan Runzler made a strong case to secure the long reliever spot in the bullpen, throwing three scoreless innings in relief of Bumgarner, striking out three and giving up just one hit.
Against the Cubs, the Giants lineup contained only two potential opening-day starters: Pablo Sandoval (1 for 4) and Pat Burrell (0 for 3).
Even though all the pitchers the Giants threw against the Cubs are not going to be on the opening day roster, they kept the game close before the Cubs won it in the 10th.
Another solid outing from Barry Zito and three solo home runs carried the Giants to another spring victory in a 3-1 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Zito gave up one run on two hits and four walks in six innings. He struck out two and dropped his spring ERA to 2.30.
“No question with him, it’s pounding the zone and staying away from bases on balls,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Zito.
Cody Ross homered in the second. Buster Posey went deep in the fourth. And Aubrey Huff hit one out in the sixth.
Ramon Ramirez, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo and Santiago Castilla combined to throw three shutout innings, giving up two hits.
While you’re never happy about losing to the Dodgers, MoreSplashHits took the Giants’ 6-3 loss to LA in stride. The Giants have been playing so well this spring that we were worried that they may using up all their wins when it doesn’t count.
What did count in this game was the performances of three pitchers vying for the final spot in the bullpen.
Jeff Suppan started and gave up two earned runs on seven hits in four innings. His spring ERA is 5.79.
Ryan Vogelsong gave up two runs on four hits in three innings. His spring ERA is now at 2.87.
And Guillermo Mota pitched the ninth and gave up two solo home runs. His spring ERA is 5.00.
But there was some good news to report from Friday’s game:
MIKE FONTENOT was 1 for 4 with two RBI from the leadoff spot. With Aaron Rowand hitting in the No. 6 spot, there was at least some hope that when Andres Torres is out of the lineup (like we was Friday) that Bruce Bochy will consider other leadoff options to Rowand.
JAVIER LOPEZ, who has had an uneven spring, threw another scoreless inning, setting down the Dodgers in order in the eighth.
Jonathan Sanchez had another solid spring outing and the Giants posted another win, shutting out the Los Angeles Angels 4-0 on Thursday.
With the win, the Giants improved to 17-5 in the spring.
Sanchez gave up just one hit and one walk in six innings. He struck out five.
Four pitchers combined on a two-hit shutout. So while the effort added to the Giants’ impressive spring pitching, it must be taken with a grain of salt.
The lineup the Angels ran out against the Giants was devoid of regular starters. Center fielder Peter Bourjos was the only Angels regular in the lineup.
Pablo Sandoval was 2 for 4 with a double, run and RBI. Pat Burrell had a double in three at-bats.
The Giants scored three runs in the fourth inning off Angels starter Dan Haren.
After Andres Torres was hit by a pitch, Torres scored on Sandoval’s double. Miguel Tejada singled Sandoval home, and Tejada scored on Burrell’s double.
The World Series trophy is coming to the Northwest — and we’re not talking about Medford, Ore.
The Salem-Keizer Volcanoes have made arrangements with the World Champion San Francisco Giants to bring the 2010 World Series trophy to Keizer this summer.
The date is July 9.
The Volcanoes will host an private reception for Volcanoes season-ticket holders, ticket-package holders and the media.
The team released very little additional information about the visit of the trophy. However, the Volcanoes, the Class A short-season affiliate of the Giants, have a home game at 7:05 p.m. against the Tri-City Dust Devils on Saturday, July 9. No word if the trophy will be on display during the game or not.
Stay tuned for more info.
At the start of Wednesday’s spring training game between the Giants and White Sox, the White Sox announcers noted that because the Giants had played a night game on Tuesday, Wednesday’s lineup was filled with players who would either be on the bench or in Fresno on opening day.
And that should help the White Sox get a win, given that manager Ozzie Guillen was throwing out a lineup that was filled with opening-day regulars.
It was a nice theory, but ….
In the end, the Giants improved to 16-5 on the spring with a 5-3 win over the Pale Hose.
To make matters worse for the White Sox, most of the damage was done by the bottom of the lineup as the No. 6-9 hitters delivered 10 of the Giants’ 15 hits.
Leading the way was first baseman Brandon Belt, who had a single, double and two-run home run in four at-bats. Nate Schierholtz continued his push to make the big club by going 3 for 5 (all singles) and improving his spring average to .342.
The lone lock for an opening day start in Wednesday lineup was on the mound. Tim Lincecum threw 75 pitches, giving up one run on three hits and three walks in 5 1/3 innings. He struck out seven.
Madison Bumgarner bounced back after giving up two first-inning home runs, and Aubrey Huff continued to swing a hot bat as the Giants rallied for a 5-4 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks on Tuesday night.
“He looked like he was just overthrowing there early, but he got back in sync and started locating better,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Bumgarner. “He just got the ball up there early in the game and paid for it.”
Bumgarner gave up a lead-off home run to Chris Young, then gave up another solo shot to Justin Upton two batters later.
But he bounced back to post three scoreless innnings after that. He finished giving up two runs on four hits and two walks in four innings. He struck out six.
Bumgarner might have returned for the fifth inning. But after collecting a single in the top of the fifth, he was replaced by pinch-runner Darren Ford.
Andres Torres followed with an RBI groundout, and then Huff belted a two-run homer to complete a three-run fifth for San Francisco. Huff finished 2 for 4 with two RBI and a run. He’s hitting .351 this spring.
FREDDY SANCHEZ: The second baseman continues to show good pop this spring, going 2 for 4 with his second spring home run.
MIGUEL TEJADA: Tejada went 2 for 4 to lift his spring average to .257.
TRAVIS ISHIKAWA: Ishikawa came off the bench to play left field. He doubled home Emmanuel Burriss ,running for Tejada, with the go-ahead run in the top of the ninth.
SERGIO ROMO: The reliever gave up his first spring run when he gave up a game-tying solo home run to Geraldo Parra in the bottom of the eighth.
Tim Lincecum is on the mound as the Giants face the White Sox at 1:05 p.m. Wednesday. The game will be broadcast on MLB Network.