Giants have no alternative but to put hopes in Zito

April 8, 2012, 10:08 pm
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PHOENIX Barry Zito has no reason to believe Matt Cains112.5 million extension will change anything other than the right-handersbank account.But if Cain ever begins to feel pressure because of thenine-figure contract, Zito will be quick to offer some advice.
Its easier said than done, but hes just got to go out andbe himself, said Zito, who cannot so much as sneeze in a Giants uniformwithout his own 126 million contract getting a mention.No matter what anyone might say, he deserves the money,Zito continued. Its the structure of baseball that has given you the abilityto make that kind of money. Youre not a bad guy for it. There are times youllstart to listen to things and start to feel like, Oh God, wow, jeez, theyreall pissed here just because the numbers are so big. But its the structure ofthe game. The union, the players before us, they fought to give us theseopportunities.
Zito doesnt expect hell ever have to deliver that messageto Cain, though.I dont know if I can fully speak to what hell go throughbecause its a different situation, said Zito, who signed his seven-yearcontract on the open market after the 2006 season. Hes not coming to a newteam after being on the market and going through all that.
We all know what hes capable of. Weve all seen it. Andbesides, he has a such a level head about things. He can just go out and dowhat he does. He knows what he has to do to succeed. Matt is a really matureguy for how young he is.Zito still has 46 million remaining on his contract, whichwas panned from the time it was signed. After getting shelled late in thespring, the Giants convinced Zito to drop much of the momentum pitching inhis delivery, which he developed with personal guru Tom House in the offseason.
After throwing glorified batting practice late in thespring, Zito was left with one minor league intrasquad start and two bullpensessions to start over. He said he expects to be competitive when he makes hisseason debut Monday against the Colorado Rockies.The adjustment I made was positive, Zito said. Imthrowing more strikes and I have a better feeling of repeatability. My arm iscatching up and everything is feeling good coming out.
Zito said he hasnt ditched all the work he did with House.Its still incorporating some momentum down the mound, butits just giving myself a little more time before I do it, Zito said. Imgiving myself a little more time and then going forward, but still withmomentum.
I feel good man. Im excited to get out there and compete.I feel its time to just get out there and do the best I can.Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he plans to start backupcatcher Hector Sanchez with Zito as Buster Posey gets a full day off. Bochyplans to use Sanchez as Zitos personal catcher.
Buster will need his days and ideally, youd like to keepHector with one pitcher so they get used to each other, Bochy said. Thatwont always be the case. Youll have day games after night games when youllneed to go another way.The Giants arent prepared to go separate ways with Zito anytime soon, given the money owed to him. Whenever the club eats the remainder ofhis contract, its a decision that will be made far above GM Brian Sabeanshead.But for now, the Giants have few alternatives. Left-handerEric Surkamp, who was expected to be the first line of defense for therotation, was just cleared to begin playing catch Monday and wont be ready toappear in a game for at least a month.Surkamp received clearance to throw after Dr. Ken Akizukiexamined him Sunday. He said he probably wont pitch off a mound for at leasttwo weeks, and then hell have to face hitters a few times before being readyfor game action. He estimated that entire process would take at least a month.He said his sprained left elbow is much better aftercompleting his round of anti-inflammatory medication.Everything feels good so far, so Im encouraged, Surkampsaid.

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