Results tagged ‘ Brian Wilson ’

Morning report: No fear for The Beard

San Francisco Giants' Brian Wilson during a spring training baseball workout Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

MoreSplashHits is launching something new today, providing a roundup of each day’s news from Giants spring training with links and commentary.

Monday’s news focused on pitchers providing optimistic reports (are there any other kinds of reports in late February?), including Tim Lincecum, Brian Wilson, Dan Runzler and Ryan Vogelsong.

We’ll start with The Beard.

WILSON: Wilson admitted earlier this spring that he pitched through pain through most of 2011. It started early in spring training with a hip injury that eventually lead to the Giants closer opening the season on the disabled list. It ended with Wilson’s season effectively ending in mid-August with elbow problems.

So the Giants are taking a conservative approach this spring with Wilson. He’s not scheduled to pitch in a spring training game until at least March 11. But Wilson says that won’t keep him from being ready for the season opener on April 6.

“If there’s a save opportunity on Opening Day, I’ll be saving the game,” Wilson declared Monday.

For more on The Beard, check out Andrew Baggarly’s report on CSNBayArea.com.

LINCECUM: The Freak faced hitters for the first time this spring and rated the workout an 8.5 out of 10. Lincecum did not allow a ball to leave the infield while facing prospects Connor Gillaspie, Justin Christian, Andrew Sugac and Francisco Peguero. Bochy said Lincecum is on pace to pitch the Giants spring opener on Saturday.

RUNZLER: The left-handers has come to camp looking to tap into the potential the Giants were excited about since making a rapid rise through the ranks in 2009.

But injury and an inability to consistently throw strikes have hurt Runzler’s development. He dislocated his knee while swinging and missing during his first major league at-bat in 2010. The Giants dabbled with the idea of converting Runzler into a starting pitcher in 2011, but that idea appears to have been scrubbed. Finally, Runzler pulled a lat muscle in last season’s final game.

Now, he’s facing long odds of making the opening day roster, but is still working toward that goal. For more, see Baggarly’s report.

THIS AND THAT

  • Ryan Vogelsong, whose start to camp has been delayed by a back issue, threw from flat ground Monday and felt “really, really good.” He may throw again Tuesday.
  • 2B Freddy Sanchez developed lower back stiffness Monday. Manager Bruce Bochy called it a “hiccup.” But any hiccup with Sanchez this spring will cause Giants fans to hold THEIR breath.
  • C Buster Posey, who looks good in facing live pitching in batting practice for the first time over the weekend, got Monday off. All part of his spring rehab plan.

Weighty issues facing the Giants this spring

San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval reacts while taking infield practice during a spring training baseball workout Wednesday, Feb. 22, 2012, in Scottsdale, Ariz. (AP Photo/Darron Cummings)

It used to be that every player showed up to spring training out of shape. Then they’d spend six weeks whipping themselves into playing shape.

But those days are long gone. Most players these days spend the offseason sticking to a steady offseason workout regimen. Spring training is about refining their hitting, fielding and pitching skills.

Still, several Giants reported to camp this season and discussed (whether they wanted to or not) about their weight. In some cases, their weight kept them from reporting to camp. Here’s where how some Giants are doing in the battle against the bulge.

PABLO SANDOVAL: Yes, Sandoval’s weight is making news. And he may be getting tired talking about it. But what do you expect when your nickname is “Kung Fu Panda?” Sandoval broke in with the Giants as a lovable round rookie in 2008 and made a big splash in 2009, earning the nickname from Barry Zito (Zito’s greatest contribution as a Giant). But the pounds kept coming in 2010 and production dropped off, eventually earning Sandoval a spot on the bench as the Giants made their postseason run. Sandoval rededicated himself that offseason, losing 38 pounds. The slimmer Panda was the most productive Giants with the bat in 2011, even after missing six weeks with a broken bone in his hand. No one seemed to care as he added 10-20 pounds by season’s end. Sandoval will step on the scales Thursday, but doesn’t seem to care about the number. He spent the winter again working out in Arizona. Manager Bruce Bochy raised concerns about Sandoval’s weight a couple weeks ago, not coincidentally right about the time Sandoval signed a three-year, $17 million contract. But the skipper seemed less concerned when Sandoval arrived in cap. As long as The Panda hits and fields third base, it doesn’t really matter what his weight is.

AUBREY HUFF: Huff arrived at camp looking lean after spending the winter working out in Arizona and resuming the Pilates workouts that he did prior to the 2010 season when he hit .290 and belted 26 home runs. The Giants suggested that Huff was out of shape when he arrived at camp last spring, leading to a 2011 season in which he hit .246 and 12 homers. Huff worked himself into shape this winter because the Giants are considering playing him in left field, preferring to let Brandon Belt focus on first base. Last season, Huff looked lost in the offseason. It’s something to watch this spring.

ANGEL VILLALONA: One Giant prospect not in camp is Angel Villalona. Villalona hasn’t played baseball in two years after dealing with legal issues in the Dominican Republic. He has not been issued a visa to enter the U.S. because his visa requires him to be an “elite athlete.” Apparently, Villalona’s weight and other health issues have prevented him from earning that distinction. The Giants hope the delay is only temporary. In the meantime, he’ll continue to work out at the Giants’ Dominican facility.

BRIAN WILSON: The Giants closer said he lost 10 to 15 pounds in the offseason as he concentrated on more cardio exercising than weightlifting. Wilson said that his devotion to weightlifting last offseason may have contributed to his elbow problems that shortened his 2011. But more than that, he said it had more to do with the Giants deep postseason run of 2010 and the shortened offseason.

TIM LINCECUM: You wouldn’t generally think of The Freak and weight issues. The right-hander ended the 2010 season at 160 pounds. Thinking he needed to add bulk to aid his durability, he added 15 pounds that offseason. Normally, the pounds start to come off during the season. But last season, his weight jumped to 187, fueled by a steady diet of In-N-Out’s Double-Doubles. His weight eventually went to 196 pounds by last October. “I wore a lot of sweats that month.” Sparked by teasing from his father, Lincecum spent much of this offseason swimming and avoiding junk food. Lincecum reported to camp at 175 pounds. “I’m not crushing vegtables by any means, but I am eating a lot better.”

Brian Wilson gets the loss, but maybe it should go to Bochy

San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Brian Wilson works in the ninth inning of a baseball game against the Atlanta Braves Monday, Aug. 15, 2011 in Atlanta. Wilson blew a two-run lead and was charged with the loss as Atlanta won 5-4. (AP Photo/John Bazemore)

Come October, the Giants may be in a position where they look back at several key moments that proved to be the difference between making the postseason and not.

Monday’s 5-4 loss in Atlanta, when the Braves scored three times in the ninth to win, may be one of those moments. And it’s hard to shake the feeling that it could have — even should have — been avoided, if not for Bruce Bochy’s decision to stand by his closer, Brian Wilson.

Now, we’re not suggesting Wilson be replaced as the Giants’ closer. Far from it. But with the depth and talent the Giants have in their bullpen, there really is no need to ALWAYS go to Wilson in save opportunities, especially if Wilson is not 100 percent.

Bothered by a stiff back — an issue that has lingered with Wilson all the way back into spring training — Wilson was unavailable to close Sunday’s 5-2 win over the Marlins. Prior to Monday’s game in Atlanta, Bochy was taking a wait-and-see approach on whether Wilson. But in the ninth, there was Wilson on the mound.

Now anyone who has ever been bothered with a sore back — particularly a recurring one — knows that you don’t go from “not being able to perform” to “100 percent” in 24 hours. So why even risk sending Wilson out in the ninth.

It wasn’t as if the bullpen has been taxed over the past few days. Matt Cain threw six innings on Friday, leaving an inning each for Ramon Ramirez and Javier Lopez. Tim Lincecum threw seven innings on Saturday, leaving an inning each for Affeldt and Wilson. And Ryan Vogelsong threw 7.2 innings on Sunday, leaving an inning for Santiago Casilla, Affledt and Ramirez to face one hitter each on Sunday.

Bochy passed on hitting for Madison Bumgarner in the seventh when the lefty had already thrown over a 100 pitches and the Giants holding a 3-2 lead. The move worked when Bumgarner set the side down in order in the seventh, then Mike Fontenot added a run with home run to left-center in the eighth.

But then Bochy went to Wilson to close out a 4-2 lead in the ninth. But wouldn’t have it been better to send Affeldt out to open the inning against the left-handed hitting Jose Constanza? With the lefty Affeldt on the mound, the Braves likely don’t send the left-handed hitting Eric Hinske to pinch hit, instead turning to righties like Julio Lugo, Brooks Conrad or David Ross, as Chipper Jones was clearly not an option with a sore knee. Wouldn’t those matchups have been more favorable, even if it meant going to the pen to get Casilla or Ramirez? Note: Sergio Romo was not an option, as it appears he’s headed for the DL with a tender elbow.

We’ve seen guys like Affeldt, Casilla and Ramirez get big outs in the 6th, 7th or 8th inning. What makes Bochy think they can’t get outs in the 9th, particularly with a two-run lead and a less-than-perfect Wilson? I’d much rather see Casilla, Affeldt or Ramirez at 100 percent, than Wilson at 80 or 90 percent.

Wilson said afterwards that his back was not an issue. But early in the inning, his pitches were topping out at 93 mph. It wasn’t until he faced Dan Uggla and Freddie Freeman later in the inning that his pitches started to hit 96 and 97 mph. But by that time he was in a heap a trouble.

Wilson also said that none of the hits the Braves got were hammered. They just found holes. And that is true. Constanza opened the inning with a grounder to short that Orlando Cabrera mishandled into an infield single. But then Wilson failed to challenge Hinske, nibbling around the edges and eventually losing him to a walk that put the tying run on with no outs. A sacrifice put runners on second and third before a single by Martin Prado past the diving Mike Fontenot at third scored one run.

Wilson then walked Brian McCann on four pitches. Some may say Wilson was not giving in to the dangerous McCann, but the walk moved the winning run into scoring position with one out. Wilson struck out Dan Uggla with some 97 mph gas and was one pitch from getting Freeman when he got ahead of him 1-2. But Freeman worked the count to 3-2 before slapping a Wilson fastball up the middle for the winning hit.

Now the Giants find themselves 2.5 games behind Arizona in the West and 5 games behind the Braves in the wild-card. The Giants really needed to earn at least a split in Atlanta with the Diamondbacks headed to Philadelphia for three. Tuesday, the Giants send Jonathan Sanchez to the mound, and that hardly fills any die-hard Giants fan with confidence, even with the Braves countering with a rookie pitcher just called up from Triple-A.

The season isn’t over by a long shot, and there’s plenty of baseball to be played. But it will be hard to look back on the night on Aug. 15 in Atlanta if the Giants fall one game short of the postseason.

A “Dynamite” reason for Giants fans to smile

The Giants are mired in a four-game losing streak. They were just swept at home by the Atlanta Braves. And they are about to start a nine-game road trip.

There has been not a lot for Giants fans to smile about over the past few days.

So we offer you this video of internet-sensation Keenan Cahill and Giants stars Brian Wilson and Cody Ross lip-syncing to Taio Cruz’s “Dynamite.” Try watching this and not smile.

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Click here for YouTube video.

Cahill is a 16-year-old from the Chicago suburb of Elmhurst who suffers from Maroteaux-Lamy Syndrome — a rare and complex condition that includes stunted growth. According to Yahoo Sports, drugs to treat this condition run annually in the six figures.

Three years ago, Cahill began posting videos of him lip-syncing to his favorite videos, and those video went viral. His video have received more than 230 million page views.

He’s done late-night TV interviews, recorded a commercial with Jennifer Aniston, received a birthday message from Katie Perry and done a video with 50 Cent, to name a few.

Cahill recorded the “Dynamite” video with Wilson and Ross — and mascot Lou Seal — during spring training in Arizona. According to Fox Sports, the video has received more than 1 million views in its first week.

The video was made to promote a “Dynamite” fundraiser hosted by the Giants on May 25 during their home game with the Florida Marlins. Fans at the game will get a “Ross is Boss” T-shirt and watch the full video production of the Giants/Cahill video. Proceeds will benefit causes “both dear to Cody and Keenan.”

Ironically (or perhaps not), the Marlins are the team that placed Ross on waivers last August when he was claimed by the Giants. Ross went to be a postseason hero and NLCS MVP as he helped the Giants claim their first World Series title in 56 years.

So, we knew the Giants are champions. But now we also know they’re pretty cool guys, as well.

Giant bummer of a day

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.
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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.

The good, good and not so good

Buster Posey is raking, Brian Wilson is dealing, and Matt Cain is chilling.

Those were the headlines out of Giants camp on Thursday as the Giants beat the Colorado Rockies 7-5.

Posey went 2 for 2 with 2 runs and 2 RBI, including a monster home run of the Rockies’ Jorge De La Rosa. The blast to center was said to have traveled at least 450 feet.

“That’s the longest home run I’ve ever given up,” De La Rosa said.

Added Rockies manager Jim Tracy: “It’s safe to say Buster Posey is a pretty good player.”

Thanks for the expert analysis, Jim.

Meanwhile, back at Giants camp, Wilson threw batting practice to Aubrey Huff, Freddy Sanchez, Mark DeRosa and Andres Torres, and handled them with ease.

Said Huff: “I’m starting to question whether he was really hurt.”

Wilson has been slowed by a sore back. Pitching coach Dave Righetti said that if Wilson’s body responds well, the Giants closer will make his spring debut on Sunday against the Mariners.

The next time we’ll see Cain on the mound in unclear. Cain skipped his scheduled start Thursday with elbow inflammation, and now his status for his next start Tuesday is in doubt as he hasn’t picked up a ball since Sunday.

“We’ll have to adjust when he throws next,” manager Bruce Bochy said.

Cain seemed less concerned about the whole thing.

“It definitely feels better,” Cain said. “It just happens sometimes. You get a little irritation. I don’t think it has anything to do with last year or anything I changed this year.”

Here are some other highlights from Thursday.

DARREN FORD: Ford is an outfielder who the Giants hope can provide them with some needed speed in the future if he can show he can get on base. He went 2 for 4 with a solo home run in the leadoff spot Thursday.

EMMANUEL BURRISS: Starting at 2B, Burriss went 2 for 3 with a triple, run scored and two RBI. He left with a sore foot after fouling a ball of it. Luckily, it wasn’t the same foot he has twice suffered a fracture in.

RYAN VOGELSONG: Starting in place of Cain, Vogelsong threw three hitless innings with two strikeouts. Bochy sees Vogelsong as a candidate to be a long man in the Giants’ pen.

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.

Giants, Brian Wilson agree to deal

The Giants signed closer Brian Wilson to a one-year deal for $4,437,500, avoiding arbitration.

No shocker here. The two sides weren’t that far apart. This figure represents the halfway mark between two numbers submitted.

That leaves Tim Lincecum as the Giants’ lone unresolved arbitration case.

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