March 12, 2011
URBAN ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTSVIDEOMychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants left-hander Jonathan Sanchez was scratched from his scheduled start against the rival Dodgers, but there's no cause for concern.The key word here is "rival." Add "division" in front of it, and you've got your answer as to why Sanchez didn't take the hill in front of the biggest crowd in the history of Scottsdale Stadium (12,081).Most big-league teams simply aren't into giving a team they'll be facing over and over during the regular season much of a sneak peek at what they'll be facing if there are other alternatives, and the Giants had a perfectly passable alternative Saturday.Sanchez, in line to face the Dodgers in the second game of the regular season, April 1 in Los Angeles, was sent to the Giants' minor-league camp to pitch in a simulated game with Eli Whiteside as his catcher.Battling fits of wildness with his fastball, Sanchez walked four batters during a four-inning outing and gave up two hits and two earned runs while striking out four.A minor-league coach who watched the outing said Sanchez frequently missed high with his heater, particularly early in the outing, but the Giants were pleased to see him make the proper adjustment with his arm angle to get the ball down thereafter.RUNZLER ON THE SPOT
The decision to "hide" Sanchez from the split-squad of Dodgers created an opportunity for lefty Dan Runzler to make his first Cactus League start.After his club sent the raucous, capacity crowd home thrilled with a two-run rally in the bottom of the ninth inning, Giants manager Bruce Bochy noted that he didn't see Runzler's three-inning outing as a start, per se. The Giants are auditioning for a sixth, or emergency, starter this spring, and the team has toyed with the idea of converting Runzler, who has worked exclusively out of the bullpen during his brief big-league career, but Bochy said Runzler is being stretched out because he's a candidate for a long-relief role at this point.Runzler, who brought a 1.50 ERA in three relief appearances (one run, six innings) this spring into Saturday's game, was touched for one earned run (two total) on five hits while striking out three over three innings. He also made a fielding error that led to the unearned run. NEAL SPARKS COMEBACK
Lefty Javier Lopez gave up four runs (three earned) on three hits and a walk during a seventh-inning outburst that gave the Dodgers a 7-6 lead, but outfield prospect Thomas Neal led a parade of youngsters who starred during the comeback by singling to start the bottom of the ninth and coming around to score on a wild pitch.RECAP: Giants mount ninth inning rally to beat Dodgers
Neal has become a popular player with Giants fans who follow him on Twitter (@tdaddyneal), in part because he offers up a "Question of the Day" every night. A recent query asked fans to weight in on whom they'd most like to be stuck with in a broken-down elevator.Neal rarely answers his own questions, however. Asked why before Saturday's game, he smiled and said, "I don't know. They're just so random. Thinking out loud."One of the responses to Neal's elevator question, by the way, was fairly predictable: "I would wanna be stuck with you!PLENTY OF TIME
Right-hander Matt Cain remains scheduled to return to Cactus League action Monday, having come out of his 47-pitch simulated game Thursday with none of the elbow discomfort that sidelined him in the first place. Now the question is whether he'll have time to build up his pitch count before his first scheduled start of the regular season, April 2 vs. the Dodgers.The Giants don't think it'll be a problem. The natural progression from a 45-pitch outing is to throw 60 the next time out, then 75, 90, etc.If Cain doesn't suffer any setbacks, he'll make four exhibition starts, ostensibly taking him to 90 in his final spring turn. That turn, as of now, would come March 29 -- three days before his scheduled start in L.A.The Giants obviously aren't going to let him work on three days rest after a 90-pitch effort that early in the season, but most teams dial their starters back a bit in their final exhibition outing, anyway, so they'll probably do a little juggling in the next week or two so they don't have to follow Sanchez's first regular-season start with another lefty in No. 4 starter Barry Zito.