SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – Javier Lopez was supposed to make his Cactus League debut on Friday, and if the rain and hail had arrived an hour later, he might have found himself in the middle of that driving storm on the mound.
Which is exactly what he experienced the last time he stared down a hitter.
“Trust me, I thought about it,” said Lopez, who was the pitcher caught in that memorable drenching in the waning moments of the Giants’ NLCS Game 7 clincher over the St. Louis Cardinals.
Lopez didn’t appear in the World Series last year and he hadn’t made his Cactus League debut because of a wrist contusion. So even though he allowed a run on three singles on a chilly yet dry Saturday, he was pleased that he handled the basics in his first competitive outing in more than four months.
“Offspeed was over the plate,” he said. “It definitely felt like the first one. It was good to get it out of the way. Lefties were 2-for-2 and I got the righties out, so that’s a change of pace.”
Lopez got hurt in the first week of camp when he was playing catch with Madison Bumgarner and a throw clipped him on the pitching hand. Now that he’s back up to speed, will he make sure to pick a different partner while getting loose?
Oh, no, you’ve got to get back on the horse,” Lopez said. “We can’t let the young guy get the best of us. I’ll just put my hand behind my back from now on.”
Chad Gaudin moved ahead while standing still Saturday. That’s because Yusmeiro Petit’s ERA went from 0 to 60 (or 11.37, to be exact) after he allowed eight runs in 1 1/3 innings. The Royals got him for nine hits. Scott Proctor also allowed three runs before escaping his inning in the Royals’ 16-3 victory at Scottsdale Stadium.
Gaudin, Petit and Proctor are considered the three top candidates to win the final job in the bullpen. Don’t count out Dan Runzler, though -– even if Jose Mijares’ elbow recovers in time for Opening Day. Runzler struck out one in a scoreless inning and continues to look sharp and under control on the mound.
Runzler’s biggest impediment is a minor league option. He can he sent to Fresno, while Petit is out of options and Gaudin could ask for his release if he doesn’t make the club.
Entering the bottom of the sixth, the Royals led 13-0 and had outhit the Giants 16-0. Gregor Blanco and Nick Noonan hit back-to-back triples to break up the no-hitter. And Brandon Belt stayed hot by ripping his fourth homer of the spring, to tie for the Cactus League lead.
No, the WBC’s mercy rule doesn’t apply to the Cactus League. That seemed just fine to the fans at Scottsdale Stadium, most of whom stayed to the end despite a gray and chilly day.
“Pretty amazing, really,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “That’s as ugly a game as we’ve had all spring. But they kept pulling for their boys.”
Bochy noted that most of the team’s ownership group was in the stands as part of their annual excursion.
“Investor weekend … we have a knack for doing this,” Bochy said. “I think it’s on purpose.”
It doesn’t change the owners’ view of their manager. Negotiations continue on the structure of multiyear extensions for Bochy and GM Brian Sabean, according to CEO Larry Baer. I wouldn’t’ be surprised if there’s an announcement within a week or two.
Free baseball if you’re in Scottsdale on Sunday. The B game starts at 10 a.m. at Salt River Fields. (Not sure if it’s on a back field, but I’m guessing so.) Here’s the lineup to take on the Diamondbacks:
Pitchers will be Chris Heston, followed by Mike Kickham.
The Giants hold a brief meeting every morning just before taking the field to stretch. Occasionally, they’ll go over signs or deal with some other administrative duty pertaining to the day’s schedule. But often, they take a minute for a quick team-building exercise.
The other day, the coaches wheeled in a TV and showed video of an old wrestler who called himself Professor Tanaka. Then Kensuke Tanaka got up and, with the help of translator Taira Uematsu, told his teammates how honored he was to be related to such a great athlete.
(No, they’re not really related, in case you couldn’t figure that out. The actor who played Professor Tanaka was actually a guy from Hawaii named Charles Kalani Jr.)
In other morning meetings, players watched the Youtube exploits of baseball legend Domingo Ayala. Hey, it’s God-given.
Overheard, to Andres Torres, in the Giants dugout when the hail was coming down Friday:
“Hey, your Lamborghini!”
From what I understand, Torres has never moved faster.