Chisox hammer Zito, but rotation spot is safe

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Chisox hammer Zito, but rotation spot is safe

GLENDALE, Ariz. -- First, the good news as it concerns Barry Zito: Hitters couldn't touch the last 25 pitches he threw.

The bad news: That's because he threw them in the bullpen.

Zito had to plump up his pitch count to 85 because the Chicago White Sox bushwhacked him Sunday at Camelback Ranch. Zito faced 18 batters and gave up nine hits plus two walks in 2 13 innings. The contact was loud, too. It included three doubles and back-to-back home runs by A.J. Pierzynski and Alex Rios.

Yes, Zito served one up to Pierzynski. Researchers are trying to determine if there has never been a darker day in Giants franchise history.

A start like this for Zito would be alarming at any point in the spring. Manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged this one was more unsettling because it came with a week until camp breaks. Zito has just two more exhibition starts before he'd take the mound April 9, when the Giants will play in the Colorado Rockies' home opener at Coors Field.

"Hopefully he can learn from this," Bochy said. "He's going to he out there (every fifth day). Hopefully the next start he can bounce back and get in a groove."

Zito said he knows what he needs to address.

"I've been harping on getting downhill on a good plane," Zito said. "Today I was rushing my body and the arm couldn't catch up. Downhill plane is everything. If your fastball comes out on a downhill plane and the offspeed comes out how the fastball comes out, that's how you get guys off balance. Today, because my arm was late, the fastball was up and the other stuff was recognizable. Even a couple good curveballs got hit."

Zito called it "definitely something that requires attention. ... Ideally you make that adjustment the next pitch. Today, I was laboring to make the adjustment in three pitches and not one."

Said Bochy: "Sure, you don't want to see it this late, but it's going to happen. Better here than in the season. You're hoping he's at a point he can get locked in. Overall, I think he's thrown well. ... Today he never got settled in. Every inning was a struggle."

Bochy reiterated that all he wants from Zito, a back-end starter, is to "give us a chance to win."

Zito is throwing in the low 80s this spring but could take a lesson from another left-hander who could appear in that first series at Coors Field. That would be 49-year-old Jamie Moyer, who threw four perfect innings against the Giants on Saturday at Salt River Fields. Moyer, who could be the Rockies' No.5 starter, didn't throw a pitch above 78 mph.

"He mixes his pitches really well and he's always giving guys a different look, whether it's cutter in, heater away or changeup," Zito said. "He's always making pitches just out of the zone. It's that feel for where to put the pitch and having the timing to (execute it). That's what Jamie has done so well."

Zito said he isn't sure where his velocity has been this spring but "it'd be nice" to add a little more. Mostly, he said he just needs to do a better job hitting his spots.

Zito has a 6.61 ERA this spring but said he mostly has felt good about how he's thrown in bullpen sessions and in games prior to Sunday. Even if the Giants don't feel as confident in Zito, they don't have much of a choice. He is making 19 million this year, 20 million in 2013 and has a 7 million buyout on an option in 2014.

Considering that eating Aaron Rowand's 12 million contract last August was a decision that contributed to the ouster of former managing partner Bill Neukom, it's hard to envision the Giants seriously entertaining the notion of cutting Zito anytime soon.

Padres non-tender former A’s P Ross, former Giants C Sanchez

Padres non-tender former A’s P Ross, former Giants C Sanchez

NEW YORK -- Tyson Ross, an All-Star pitcher for San Diego two years ago, was among 35 players who became free agents when their teams declined to offer them 2017 contracts on Friday.

Washington outfielder Ben Revere and Philadelphia outfielder Cody Asche also were cut loose, along with Arizona catcher Welington Castillo and pitcher Rubby De La Rosa; Baltimore pitcher Vance Worley; and Los Angeles Dodgers reliever Louis Coleman.

Milwaukee first baseman Chris Carter and Pittsburgh pitcher Jeff Locke were non-tendered as well; their teams had already designated them for assignment earlier this week.

Teams cut players at the tender deadline to avoid committing to salary arbitration, in which about one-sixth of next season's salary is guaranteed.

Ross, a 29-year-old right-hander, was 13-14 with a 2.81 ERA in 2014 and 10-12 with a 3.26 ERA the following season. He was limited to one major league appearance this year and had surgery in October for thoracic outlet syndrome. Recovery time was expected to be four to six months, and the Padres deemed him too pricy for arbitration after he earned $9,625,000 this year.

Asche, 26, was designated for assignment earlier Friday to clear a roster spot for left-hander David Rollins, claimed off waivers from Texas. Asche hit .240 with 31 homers and 125 RBIs for the Phillies during 371 games in the past four seasons and would have been eligible for arbitration for the first time.

The 28-year-old Revere was acquired from Toronto in January for reliever Drew Storen but strained his right oblique in his first at-bat of the season, left after four innings and went on the disabled list. Revere returned May 6, hit just .217 with two homers and 24 RBIs in 103 games and would have been on track for a raise from his $6.25 million salary.

Castillo batted .264 with 14 homers and 68 RBIs and would have gotten a big raise from his $3.7 million salary.

Giants tender contracts to all six arbitration-eligible players

Giants tender contracts to all six arbitration-eligible players

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants tendered contracts to all six arbitration-eligible players on Friday, agreeing to one-year contracts with two of them. 

Right-hander Cory Gearrin will get $1.05 million and infielder Ehire Adrianza will receive $600,000, per Jon Heyman of MLB Network. The Giants will exchange figures with George Kontos, Will Smith, Eduardo Nunez and Conor Gillaspie. They traditionally have avoided going to actual arbitration hearings. 

Gearrin, Kontos and Smith will make up a chunk of the bullpen next season, while Nunez is expected to start at third base. Gillaspie, the postseason hero, should see more playing time and Adrianza is currently slated to return in his familiar bench role. 

The day was smoother for the Giants than other NL West teams. The Diamondbacks non-tendered Welington Castillo and Rubby De La Rosa and the Padres later sent mini shockwaves through the market by non-tendering former ace Tyson Ross, who is coming off a season lost to injury. Ross was one of six Padres to be let go, a list that included former Giant Hector Sanchez.