Giants release Kameron Loe: Best of luck, big guy, and thanks for the memory

loepants

And then there were 32 … players left in the San Francisco Giants’ camp.

Pitcher Kameron Loe requested — and was granted — his release by the Giants on Saturday.

Loe signed with the Giants after a solid performance in winter league. Despite his 2-0 record and 3.38 spring ERA, it became evident that Loe was not going to dislodge Yusmeiro Petit and David Huff in the battle for the long-relief job in the Giants’ bullpen.

As part of his deal, Loe could opt-out of his contract to seek opportunities elsewhere by Monday. He decided to get started on that pursuit early.

MoreSplashHits always liked Loe. Maybe it was because he was born in our hometown of Simi Valley, Calif.

Or maybe it was because he hails from the same alma mater, Cal State Northridge. Go Matadors!

Or maybe it was because Loe provided one of the more memorable, if not more disturbing, images of the spring, when the 6-foot-8, 245-pound Loe switched uniforms for the day with the 5-foot-11, 170-pound Tim Lincecum.

So as Loe looks for greener pastures, we leave you with one of the best tweets of the spring.

Best of luck Kam.

loesnip

Next round of cuts help San Francisco Giants 2014 roster take shape

With Marco Scutaro looking more and more like he's headed to the DL to open season, it opens up roster spots for others.

With Marco Scutaro looking more and more like he’s headed to the DL to open season, it opens up roster spots for others.

The Giants made what can be considered the penultimate round of roster cuts on Friday, sending down seven players to the minors.

Sent down were RHP Heath Hembree, RHP Erik Cordier, RHP Jake Dunning, RHP Brett Bochy, RHP Adam Reifer, C Guillermo Quiroz and 1B Mark Minicozzi.

The only surprising player among that group was Hembree, who was thought to be among the favorites to make the big-league club.

But the Giants felt he needed to work more on his off-speed pitches, and that he could do that with a more consistent workload at Fresno than spotting appearances in middle relief with the big club.

It leaves 33 players in camp battling for 25 roster spots.

Twenty of the 25 roster spots are more or less locked in, leaving 13 players in camp for the final five spots.

Five of the remaining players are position players for two open bench spots

  • OF Juan Perez
  • OF Tyler Colvin
  • IF Tony Abreu
  • IF Ehire Adrianza
  • IF Brandon Hicks

Perez and Hicks, while having solid springs, can be sent to Fresno. The other three players would need to first pass through waivers or would be able to opt-out of their contracts (Colvin) if they don’t make the big-league club.

If Scutaro opens the season on the DL (which is looking more and more like a possibility after he received a cortisone shot in his troublesome back Thursday), it would create three open roster spots.

In the bullpen, there eight candidates left for three open jobs.

  • RH Yusmeiro Petit
  • LH David Huff
  • RH Kameron Loe
  • RH J.C. Gutierrez
  • RH George Kontos
  • RH Jean Machi
  • RH Derek Law
  • LH Dan Runzler

Petit and Huff were thought to battling for the role of long reliever, along with Loe. Petit seemed to get an edge Friday with solid outing against the A’s. But as Petit and Huff are out of options, the Giants could decide to keep both.

If they did that, Machi would seem to be the frontrunner to secure the final roster spot. Gutierrez and Law appear to be the long shots.

“This is the best group of young pitchers I’ve had since I’ve been here,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “We have some tough decisions to make here. We’ve got a little over a week to finalize these spots and it’s been competitive. It’s going to go down to the last couple games.”

Sometimes, these final decisions don’t come down to who had the best spring. It comes down to the safest play.

The safe play is to keep players who are out of options. That way if they struggle or get hurt, you could always recall the players you sent to the minors.

You make the other decision, then those players out of options likely won’t be around to call on.

With that in mind, here is what MoreSplashHits is projecting how the opening roster will look like:

POSITION PLAYERS

Starters

  • C Buster Posey
  • 1B Brandon Belt
  • 2B Joaquin Arias
  • SS Brandon Crawford
  • 3B Pablo Sandoval
  • LF Michael Morse
  • CF Angel Pagan
  • RF Hunter Pence

Bench

  • C Hector Sanchez
  • IF Tony Abreu
  • IF Ehire Adrianza
  • OF Gregor Blaco
  • OF Tyler Colvin

Starting pitchers

  • LH Madison Bumgarner
  • RH Matt Cain
  • RH Tim Lincecum
  • RH Tim Hudson
  • RH Ryan Vogelson

Bullpen

  • RH Sergio Romo
  • RH Santiago Casilla
  • LH Jeremy Affeldt
  • LH Javier Lopez
  • RH Jean Machi
  • RH Yusmeiro Petit
  • LH David Huff

Disabled list

  • 2B Marco Scutaro

It’s been a long time, but Barry Bonds is back in San Francisco Giants camp

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, left, listens as former player Barry Bonds speaks at a news conference before a spring training baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Monday, March 10, 2014. Bonds starts a seven day coaching stint today. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy, left, listens as former player Barry Bonds speaks at a news conference before a spring training baseball game in Scottsdale, Ariz., Monday, March 10, 2014. Bonds starts a seven day coaching stint today. (AP Photo/Chris Carlson)

It’s been seven years since Barry Bonds wore a San Francisco Giants uniform as a player.

It’s been so long, it took me a while to remember if Bonds ever played for manager Bruce Bochy. He did for one season in 2007.

There are only three players on the current roster who were teammates of Bonds — Tim Lincecum (2007), Ryan Vogelsong (who played in four games with Giants in 2000) and Matt Cain (2005-07).

For Cain, the arrival of Bonds to camp, and the accompanying media throng, brought a familiar feel.

“It just became a zoo like normal,” Cain said. “Same as before. If you want to get some TV time, go near him.”

It’s a scene that was long overdue in Giants camp. The team has a long history of bringing back veteran stars to share knowledge with their current players in the spring.

Bochy said the timing was just right for this. And Bonds is just one of several former players to make appearances in Scottsdale this spring.

“Jeff Kent just left (coincidence?),” Bochy said. “J.T. Snow is here, Rich Aurilia is here, Randy Winn is here. Will Clark is coming in later.”

Bonds is in Giants camp for seven days. He intimated that he’d like it be longer, that perhaps this visit could grow into something more.

“But I’m just here for seven days,” Bonds then cautioned. “I don’t even know if I’m good at this.”

Bonds has had some experience with tutoring hitters like Ryan Howard, and this past offseason, Dexter Fowler.

With his legal issues behind him, Bonds has his focus on the future, deflecting most of the media’s queries about his playing days and PED connections.

“I’m not the focal point anymore,” he said. “I’m here for the team.”

Bonds said he recently moved back to the Bay Area from Southern California “because it’s my home, and I love it and I belong (there).”

When asked if he thinks he’s worthy for election in the the Hall of Fame, Bonds answered: “Without a doubt.”

But he wouldn’t offer reasons to the media on why they should elect him to the Hall. “You guys are all adults. I have no advice for you.”

Bonds was a more warm and fuzzy version on Monday than the grumpy, cocky person he was in his playing days. The constant questions and criticism he faced late in his career amplified that personality in him.

“I was a different character when I playing,” Bonds said. “I needed to be that guy to play. But it’s not who I am now. … I’m the same person, just a different character. I can still be crazy, but I’ve toned it down.”

Then he directed a comment to the media.

“The only regret I have is that I wish we all had a better relationship,” he added.

As far as how he can help the Giants, he said these next seven days will reveal that.

“The one thing I know I can do is I can help you do a little better than you are doing now,” he said. “But I don’t know how much I can help. That’s what I’m here to find out.”

Transformation of Giants’ Tim Lincecum into finesse pitcher takes another good turn

San Francisco Giants' Tim Lincecum pitches to the Kansas City Royals in the second inning of a spring training baseball game, Friday, March 7, 2014, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

San Francisco Giants’ Tim Lincecum pitches to the Kansas City Royals in the second inning of a spring training baseball game, Friday, March 7, 2014, in Surprise, Ariz. (AP Photo/Tony Gutierrez)

Tim Lincecum kept the impressive spring going by the Giants starting rotation.

Lincecum tossed three scoreless in a 5-0 win Friday against the Royals. Combined with Tim Hudson’s three scoreless innings on Thursday in a 3-2 win over the Angels, it gives the Giants’ rotation a 0.39 ERA for the spring (23 IP, 1 ER, 13 hits).

Lincecum gave up two hits with no walks or strikeouts (he did hit one batter). He fastball clocked at 89-91 mph.

“I’m not really too worried about trying to get it up or where it is at,” Lincecum said. “It’s all about placement. I know if I set my sights low in the zone I’ll be better off.”

It’s all part of Lincecum learning to become more of a finesse pitcher. He was efficient on Friday, throwing 35 pitches, 26 for strikes.

As Lincecum put it, he’s pitching for more “crappy contact” and worrying less about strikeouts.

“I just wanted to pound the zone a little bit more than I did,” Lincecum said. “My last game I had a batter where I threw four straight balls and I was really trying not to let that happen and attack the zone. Even if I was behind to hitters, come back and make really good pitches. That’s where my mindset was at.”

Here’s how Lincecum’s outing went Friday:

FIRST INNING

  • Norichika Aoki doubles down left-field line
  • Lorenzo Cain pops to first
  • With Alex Gordon batting, Aoki caught stealing third
  • Gordon singles to center
  • Billy Butler flies to right

SECOND INNING

  • Danny Valencia flies to right
  • Justin Maxwell flies to center
  • Brett Hayes hit by pitch
  • Alcides Escobar grounds to third

THIRD INNING

  • Christian Colon grounds to short
  • Aoki groundsto short
  • Cain pops to second

Looks like lots of crappy contact there.

Lincecum has now allowed three hits and one walk in five scoreless innings this spring. For a guy with a career spring ERA of 5.51 (10.57 last spring), that’s worth noting.

To ready more on the Freak’s approach this spring, read Andrew Baggarly’s post here.

 

New home plate collision rule: We’re predicting you won’t miss them

Florida Marlins' Scott Cousins, top, collides with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) on a fly ball from Emilio Bonifacio during the 12th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Cousins was safe for the go ahead run and Florida won 7-6.  (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Florida Marlins’ Scott Cousins, top, collides with San Francisco Giants catcher Buster Posey (28) on a fly ball from Emilio Bonifacio during the 12th inning of a baseball game in San Francisco, Wednesday, May 25, 2011. Cousins was safe for the go ahead run and Florida won 7-6. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Major League Baseball and the players association agreed to implement a provisional rule that would limit home plate collisions.

It can’t be called a home plate collision ban, thanks to a compromised made by both sides.

MLB wanted to make the rule simple: Runners would be required to slide into home plate; catchers would not be allowed to impede the runner in any way.

But the players association contended that years of conditioning of big-league catchers could not be undone in one spring training (which MoreSplashHits believes is silly, but OK).

So MLB added the following provision to the rule:

“The catcher, without the ball in his possession, has no right to block the pathway of the runner attempting to score. The base line belongs to the runner and the catcher should be there only when he is fielding a ball or when he already has the ball in his hand.”

This provision would seem to indicate that catchers can still block the plate if they have the ball in hand. This has led some players to deduce that a rule intended on protecting the catcher is now putting the runner in danger.

And they have a point. Also, it created some gray area that is confusing to some.

“Yesterday, we were thoroughly confused, trying to figure out ways to do it,” the Brewers’ Jonathan Lucroy said. “There were so many issues as far as, ‘Will this be legal? Would that be legal?’”

Now if catchers are spending this spring trying to figure ways that they can still be allowed to block the plate, then there will be issues.

But if teams spend this spring instructing their catchers to position themselves in a way that will avoid most contact, then there will be few issues.

That’s what Giants fans have learned over the past couple of years.

Ever since Buster Posey had his 2011 season ended by a collision with the Marlins’ Scott Cousins — and even before that, Posey says — Giants catchers have been taught to position themselves to receive the ball out in front of home plate (i.e. between home plate and the mound). Then catch the ball and turn to tag out the runner with a sweep tag.

This technique is nothing new. Carlton Fisk decided early in his career that he would rather have a long and prosperous career than turn himself into a human baracade at the plate. So he used the sweep tag, which allowed him to make the Hall of Fame.

So Giants fans haven’t seen many home plate collisions in the past few years. And they haven’t missed them.

As someone who has covered high school baseball for a quarter century — home plate collisions are not allowed in prep baseball, or the college game for that matter — I can tell you that you don’t really miss them.

What you will notice is that any runner to can get to the plate before the ball arrives will be safe. Those that don’t will be out.

Just like every other base.

Will there still be collisions from time to time? Sure. Just like there are when pitchers and runners sometimes collide when a pitcher is covering first. Or when a wide throw carries first basemen into the path of oncoming runners.

But these plays will be left to the judgment of umpires to decide if the contact was incidental or intentional, and rule accordingly.

MoreSplashHits believes after the 2014 season, this experimental rule will become permanent, with the potential elimination of the aformentioned provision which allows catchers to block the plate if they have the ball.

And there will still be exciting plays at the plate, like this one from the 2012 World Series.

Spring training: Giants 3, Angels 2 — Cain keeps strong pitching going

San Francisco Giants' Matt Cain throws before an exhibition spring training baseball game last season. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

San Francisco Giants’ Matt Cain throws before an exhibition spring training baseball game last season. (AP Photo/Morry Gash)

Matt Cain continued the stellar start to the spring by the quintet of pitchers who will make up the Giants’ starting rotation this season.

Cain gave up just one hit in three scoreless innings, walking none and striking out two in a 3-2 win over the Angels. It was Cain’s first spring training start as his previous start last Saturday was rained out, forcing him to throw a bullpen session indoors.

None of the Giants’ starting rotation pitchers have allowed a run this spring when starting spring training games. The only run allowed by a Giants rotation pitcher was by Ryan Vogelsong pitching in relief of Madison Bumgarner.

Yusmeiro Petit, who is fighting for a job as a long relief man, has made the other start this spring for the Giants.

Here are how the pitchers in the Giants starting rotation have fared this spring:

  • Madison Bumgarner — 2 games, 1-0, 5 IP, 0 R, 5 H, 0 BB, 3 K 0.00 ERA
  • Tim Lincecum — 1 G, 0-0, 2 IP, 0 R, 1 H, 1 BB, 1 K, 0.00 ERA
  • Tim Hudson — 1 G, 0-0, 2 IP, 0 R, 0 H, 0 BB, 1 K, 0.00 ERA
  • Ryan Vogelsong 2 G, 1-0, 5 IP, 1 R, 4 H, 0 BB, 2 K, 1.80 ERA

Put that all together, and the Giants projected starting rotation has allowed one run on 11 hits, one walk and nine strikeouts in 17 innings of work (0.53 ERA).

As we always say in the spring “It’s just spring training.” But it’s a good sign to see the starters getting good results, especially Tim Lincecum who has a track record of ugly numbers in the spring.

Now, the Giants’ hitters haven’t been nearly as impressive this spring.

Wednesday’s win pushed the Giants’ spring record to 4-3. But the Giants have scored more than three runs in a game in their last three outings.

Other highlights

  • Pablo Sandoval had a pair of RBI singles in three at-bats.
  • Mike Morse drove in the other Giant run with a double, and he had a walk.
  • Minor league 1B Mark Minicozzi went 2 for 4.
  • Heath Hembree pitched a 1-2-3 ninth with one strikeout to earn the save.

Thursday

Tim Hudson takes the mound as the Giants host the Reds at 12:05 p.m.

Spring training: Giants 3, Rockies 2

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner pitches to a Colorado Rockies batter during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

San Francisco Giants starting pitcher Madison Bumgarner pitches to a Colorado Rockies batter during the first inning of an exhibition spring training baseball game Tuesday, March 4, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

OK, it’s March 4. So it’s time we start blogging about the Giants.

MoreSplashHits has emerged from its winter hibernation to check in on what’s going on with the Giants down in Scottsdale

On Tuesday, Giants starting pitching continued its strong spring with solid outings against the Rockies by Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong.

Bumgarner, slated to be the Giants’ opening day starter, gave up just two hits in three shutout innings of work. He struck out. This was MadBum’s second spring start and he has yet to allow a run.

“My command was better,” Bumgarner said. “The pitches I made from the stretch felt better than they did last time. There still were balls that I left up, but nothing on a regular basis.”

Ryan Vogelsong, the No. 5 starter, gave up one run on three hits in three innings of work. He has a spring ERA of 1.80.

Another point of interest for both starters and relievers is throwing strikes. Bases on balls were a big problem for Giants pitchers in 2013.

On Tuesday, five Giants pitchers allowed just one walk, that coming from Edwin Escobar. George Kontos and Jake Dunning also pitched Tuesday.

Other highlights

  • Brandon Belt, who has been battling a stiff neck, returned to the lineup and went 2 for 3 with a double.
  • Tyler Colvin, looking to make the team as a utility reserve, went 1 for 2 with an RBI double.
  • Former top prospect Gary Brown had an RBI single.

Wednesday

Matt Cain takes the hill for the first time in exhibition play when the Giants face the Angels at 12:05 p.m. Cain’s previous start was rained out, so he threw a bullpen session indoors.

Giants open spring training without a lot a drama

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) looks on as a group of mostly catchers return during spring training baseball practice on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

San Francisco Giants manager Bruce Bochy (15) looks on as a group of mostly catchers return during spring training baseball practice on Sunday, Feb. 16, 2014, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Gregory Bull)

The offseason wasn’t as exciting as many Giants fans would have liked.

The Giants spent most of the offseason locking up their own free agents: Hunter Pence, 5 years (done before end of regular season), Tim Lincecum, 2 years; Javier Lopez, 2 years; Ryan Vogelsong, 1 year.

So the 2014 Giants are going to look a lot like the 2013 Giants.

The two significant changes will be Tim Hudson (2-year deal) in place of Barry Zito, and Michael Morse (1-year deal) getting the bulk of the LF starts instead of Gregor Blanco.

The former addition will be a marked improvement. The latter remains to be scene. If nothing else, it gives them better depth.

So the two basic questions heading into spring training is the final bench spot and the final two bullpen spots.

Here is what the 25-man roster likely will look like.

STARTING LINEUP

  • C-Buster Posey
  • 1B-Brandon Belt
  • 2B-Marcus Scutaro
  • SS-Brandon Crawford
  • 3B-Pablo Sandoval
  • LF-Michael Morse
  • CF-Angel Pagan
  • RF-Hunter Pence

BENCH

  • C-Hector Sanchez
  • IF-Tony Abreu
  • IF-Joaquin Arias
  • OF-Gregor Blanco
  • OF-TBD

STARTING ROTATION

  • RH-Matt Cain
  • LH-Madison Bumgarner
  • RH-Tim Lincecum
  • RH-Tim Hudson
  • RH-Ryan Vogelsong

BULLPEN

  • RH-Sergio Romo
  • RH-Santiago Casilla
  • LH-Jeremy Affeldt
  • LH-Javier Lopez
  • RH-Yusmeiro Petit
  • TBD
  • TBD

The final bench spot appears to be between Juan Perez and Roger Kieschnick. I was surprised the Giants didn’t bring in another veteran outfielder as a non-roster invitee. Infielder Ehire Adrianza, a former top prospect, is out of options, so he could also figure in this mix.

Petit appears a lock for the long-man role in the bullpen, and the emergency starter should someone in the rotation get hurt.

Pitchers in the mix for the remaining two bullpen spots are RH Jake Dunning, RH Heath Hembree, LH David Huff (acquired recently in a trade with the Yankees), RH George Kontos and RH Jean Machi.

Hunter Pence, San Francisco Giants agree to new five-year deal for … wow, just wow!

San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, right, gestures while speaking after being announced as the 2013 winner of the Wille Mac Award, named after former Giant Willie McCovey, seated left, before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Francisco, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

San Francisco Giants right fielder Hunter Pence, right, gestures while speaking after being announced as the 2013 winner of the Wille Mac Award, named after former Giant Willie McCovey, seated left, before a baseball game against the San Diego Padres in San Francisco, Friday, Sept. 27, 2013. (AP Photo/Jeff Chiu)

One of the biggest questions for the Giants heading into the postseason was answered Saturday: Hunter Pence will remain a Giant.

There were two schools of thought regarding Pence’s future in San Francisco.

The first says it would be great to re-sign Pence … if the price was right.

The other school of thought was that the Giants had to re-sign Pence. They HAD to. They could not go into the offseason trying to replace their left fielder AND their right fielder.

The money really didn’t matter. The market would determine the money. Considering the options, the Giants had to re-sign Pence.

Ray Woodson on KNBR Friday night, I thought, correctly stated when he said the discussion would need to start at four years, $60 million.

So when the first reports said the deal the Giants and Pence agreed to was five years, I thought “OK, I guess it took five years to get the deal done now.”

Then the number came in: $90 million. Five years, $90 million. $18 million a year.

Wow. Just wow.

If you had asked me to project where Pence’s number would come in, I would not have come anywhere near five years, $90 million.

During his press conference Friday, Giants general manager Brian Sabaen must have used the word “budget” a dozen times.

He must have been talking about the budget AFTER giving Pence $90 million.

So the good news is Pence will return in 2014. That leaves one question mark in the starting lineup: left field.

But how much money is in the coffers to spend on a quality improvement for a left-fielder?

One possible solution is recent Cuba defector Jose Abreu. Abreu, 26, is a power-hitting, right-handed first baseman who will soon hit the international free-agent market.

The Giants are reportedly to be most interested in Abreu, among teams that include the Red Sox, Pirates, Orioles and maybe even the Mets.

Of course signing a first basemen means Brandon Belt would have to move to left field. It’s a move that Belt says his willing to make and he’s shown ability in brief stints in the outfield.

Another question the Pence deal brings is how does it impact the efforts to re-sign Tim Lincecum.

Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Giants reported the Giants, having secured Pence, have moved their efforts to agreeing to a new deal with Lincecum.

If a deal can’t be reached before the start of the offseason, the Giants are expected to make a qualifying offer to Lincecum for one year, around $14 million, putting them in position for a compensatory first-round pick if he signs elsewhere.

It also decreases the chances of the Giants signing a free agent who has been offered a qualifying offer, which would cost the Giants’ first-round pick next June. The Giants likely will pick anywhere from No. 11 to 14.

If true, you can scratch Shin-Soo Choo, Jacob Ellsbury, Nelson Cruz and maybe even Ervin Santana from your wish list.

A look at potential September call-ups for San Francisco Giants

Kensuke Tanaka was sent down to minor league camp on Thursday.

Kensuke Tanaka was sent down to minor league camp on Thursday.

It’s September, so it’s time to look at prospects.

From Sept. 1 through the end of the regular seaso, any player on the 40-man roster is eligible to play in an official regular season game. Many young players make their Major League debuts in this way, as “September call-ups.”

The Giants in the past few seasons have not called up a ton of minor leaguers in September. But in the past few seasons, they’ve been in contention for the postseason.

Not this season, so it’s time to take a look at the youngsters. So we’ll start with players who are on the 40-man roster, but not on the current 25-man roster or on the DL

RHP Jake Dunning

Pitched well in his first stint in the majors, posting a 2.84 ERA and 1.05 WHIP in 19 innings before being sent down in late July. He’s gone 1-2 with 1.37 ERA in 46 innings at Fresno. He’ll surely get a call-up.

LHP Edwin Escobar

Escobar started the year at High-A San Jose, going 3-4 with 2.89 ERA and 1.138 WHIP in 16 games (14 starts). His numbers got better since his promotion to Double-A Richmond — 5-3, 2.59 ERA, 1.068 WHIP in nine starts. But at 21, and a starting pitching prospect, he’s likely not to get call this September.

RHP George Kontos

A key contributor in the bullpen in 2012, Kontos struggled with the big club in 2013, posting a 5.05 ERA and 1.49 WHIP in 46.1 innings. He’s pitched well at Fresno (3-1, 3.74 ERA and 0.88 WHIP in 21.2 innings), so he’ll get a call.

LHP Dan Runzler

After losing most of the 2012 season to injury, Runzler was visibly upset when he was sent to minor-league in spring training. But things have not gone well at Triple-A for the lefty (5.79 ERA and 1.83 WHIP in 51.1 innings). But at 28 years old, it’s time for the Giants to see what they’ve got in Runzler as they make offseason roster decisions.

LHP Eric Surkamp

After losing the 2012 season to Tommy John surgery, necessity forced the Giants to call on Surkamp a little earlier than they should have. The result was an ugly start in July vs. the Reds. But he’s been very good in Triple-A (7-1, 2.54 ERA, 0.90 WHIP in 10 starts), and he’s been especially good since being sent back after his one ugly start in the bigs (5-1, 1.47 ERA in six starts). So he deserves another look with the Giants and could be asked to contend for starting spot in 2014.

SS Ehire Adrianza

A former top prospect, Adrianza built a reputation as a guy with big-league glove, minor-league bat. After hitting .240 for Double-A Richmond to start 2013, he was promoted midseason to Fresno more out of necessity. But since arriving for his first stint at Triple-A, he’s hit .311 with a .418 OBP in 39 games. He walks about as much as he strikes out. It might be a surprise, but maybe he’s worth a look.

IF Nick Noonan

Noonan earned a job with the big club out of spring training and opened the season well. But a lack of consistent playing time led to a drop-off (he’s hitting .209 for the season). A demotion to Fresno didn’t help the numbers (.245 in 42 games). But he’s shown some ability when given the chance to play, so the Giants may give him more ABs in September.

1B Angel Villalona

Villalona emerged from nearly three years out of the game because of legal problems. He hit .229 with 14 HR and 42 RBI in 73 games to High-A San Jose before getting moved up to Double-A Richmond, where he’s hit .236 with 7 HR, and 27 RBI in 46 games. He still needs to find his hitting stroke, so don’t expect him in San Francisco this September.

OF Francisco Peguero

Peguero was just up with the big club before being sent down to make room on the roster for Angel Pagan, who was activated from the DL on Friday. So we can expect to see Peguero back up when rosters expand.

OF Juan Perez

Perez was another player who showed brief flashes early in his call-up to majors. He’s continued to hit at Triple-A (.301 in 94 games) but his lack of patience at the plate (.333 OBP) nullifies one of his assests — his speed. His shown a good glove, and with Andres Torres done for the year, the Giants could use outfielders.

IF-OF Kensuke Tanaka

The Japanese League veteran held his own in his brief stint with the Giants (8 for 30, .267, in 15 games). He’s shown he can handle Triple-A pitching (.331 avg, .403 OBP) and he actually walks more than he strikes out (like the Giants could use that?). He’ll get another look in September.

PLAYERS NOT ON THE 40-MAN ROSTER

The Giants might not restrict a September call-up to players currently on the 40-man roster. They may want to take a look at others.

Right now, all 40 spots on the 40-man roster are spoken for. But the Giants could create a spot if they wanted to.

One easy to do that is to put infielder Tony Abreu on the 60-day disabled list. Abreu has been bothered with knee issues dating all the way back to spring training. He worked his way back into playing shape and earned a promotion to the big club in July. But knee issues resumed and he returned to the DL in late July. If the Giants determine that Abreu won’t be 100-percent healthy in September, they could put in him on the 60-day and open a roster spot.

With pitchers Matt Cain, Jeremy Affeldt and Chad Gaudin expected to return soon from the DL, the only other way to create a spot on the 40-man roster is to designated someone for assignment.

The prime candidate for MoreSplashHits is Barry Zito. We’ve seen enough of Zito over the past seven years, and we don’t need to see any more. If Cain is able to come off the DL next week, as expected, the Giants have plenty of starting pitching candidates with Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Tim Lincecum, Ryan Vogelsong, Yusmeiro Petit, as well as youngsters Mike Kickham and Eric Surkamp.

I would rather see what Surkamp has to offer instead of Zito. Surkamp is a candidate to contend for a rotation spot in 2014. Zito is not.

BUT, Zito is slated to start Monday against the Padres at home. Let’s hope this is final send-off.

Here are candidates to get a call-up who are not on the 40-man roster.

RHP Heath Hembree

Hembree wowed the Giants during spring training 2012 as he became the “closer of the future.” But arm troubled sidelined him a bit in 2012, and he struggled early in 2013 for Triple-A Fresno. But he’s been pitching better of late, posting a 2.70 ERA with seven saves, eight strikeouts, one walk in 10 innings in August. He’ll need to be added to the 40-man roster this offseason, so the Giants might as well take a look now.

C Johnny Monell

Teams often like to call up a third catcher in September. And the idea of giving Buster Posey more time off in September seems like a good one. Monell, a 27-year-old, impressed the Giants with his power in spring training, but he needed to improve his defense. He’s worked on that at Fresno while he has continued to hit. He has 20 HRs, 63 RBI and batting .279 in 118 games for the Grizzlies.

OF Gary Brown

We throw this name in for the heck of it. Brown, a first-round pick in 2010, has been one of the Giants’ top rated prospects the past few years, but he has had a poor year at Triple-A this season. He’s hit .233 this season in a hitter-friendly league and has a team-high 132 strikeouts for Fresno. Not what you want to see from a guy you had hoped could be a leadoff candidate. Brown’s not ready. Another year in Triple-A would be good. No need to call up Brown now.

 

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