Casilla out with blister issue, but gets vote of confidence

July 6, 2012, 10:11 pm
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PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Santiago Casilla will sit behind emergency glass in the Giants bullpen Friday night because of a blister issue on his pitching hand, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

But the manager gave Casilla a vote of confidence amid his recent struggles, saying hiccups are to be expected from anyone in the closer role, let alone someone who was thrust into the high-profile job.

"It's going to happen, and he's been really solid," said Bochy, a day after Casilla blew a one-run lead in a 6-5 loss at Washington. "Yesterday, we're out of that inning if (shortstop) Brandon Crawford makes that throw."

Bochy pointed out that Casilla only made a mistake to the leadoff batter, who doubled. He got the ground balls to escape. Bochy did acknowledge that Casilla was shaking off catcher Buster Posey quite often during the inning. Perhaps he wanted to go back to his fastball because his slider and spike curve are harder to throw with a blister.

"He's pitchable, but I'm going to back off him for today," Bochy said. "It could be bothering him more than he's letting on."

Thursday's blown save was more troubling because it was Casilla's third blown save in four chances. Over his last six appearances, he has faced 28 batters and 15 have reached base (11 hits, three walks and an error). Casilla also has allowed two home runs and opponents are batting .458 against him over that span.

"He had a pretty good break before (Thursday)," Bochy said. "I think it's more between pitch selection and location."

In other words ... trust Buster.

Casilla had a 1.32 ERA and had closed out 19 of 20 opportunities before his rough, six-outing stretch. So it would be beyond rash to consider any kind of closer change. Bochy made it clear he's not considering one.

As usual, Bochy plans to use matchups if he has a save opportunity in Casilla's absence. Right-hander Sergio Romo pitched 1 13 innings Thursday but threw only 18 pitches, so he should be fully available if needed.

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