Giants notes: Kickham and Gaudin could switch roles

Giants notes: Kickham and Gaudin could switch roles
June 29, 2013, 12:45 pm
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Bruce Bochy dropped a hint that he likes the idea of Mike Kickham (left) as left-handed long reliever. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

DENVER – The Giants will get some of their pitching pieces back soon. Now manager Bruce Bochy has to decide how he’ll use them. 

Right-hander Santiago Casilla will start a rehab assignment with Single-A San Jose, where his younger brother, Jose, is on the staff. The elder Casilla will start Sunday and pitch one inning or throw 20 pitches, whatever comes first. With no setbacks, he’s expected to be ready when the Giants start their next homestand July 5.

Right-hander Chad Gaudin should be ready when he’s eligible to come off the DL on July 6. He threw a bullpen Saturday and the swelling has gone down where he was struck with a line drive on the right arm.

The question: Will Gaudin come back in the bullpen, or in the rotation?

Giants manager Bruce Bochy dropped a hint when he said he likes the idea of Mike Kickham’s stuff playing as a left-handed long reliever – a role that would be new to the rookie. Kickham will make his third major league start Monday at Cincinnati.

“We’re going a start at a time and see how he handles it,” Bochy said. “If we have to make an adjustment, we will.”

Given GM Brian Sabean’s recent comments that the team was not willing to do business on the trade market given the current costs, it’s unlikely another option will show up in the clubhouse in the next week or two. Eventually, though, the Giants would love to be able to move Gaudin back to the bullpen, where he was so valuable as a tourniquet in the middle innings.

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Bochy acknowledged he hated to take Brandon Belt out of the lineup Saturday, since he’s one of few Giants other than Buster Posey making consistently hard contact on this road trip.

But Posey needed a break from catching as the Giants play a day game after a night game. And so Posey is in the lineup at first base.

Bochy winced when asked if he’d consider having Belt start taking fly ball in left field.

“Yeah, it’s a possibility,” the manager said. “In this park, I wouldn’t do it.”

Coors Field is a pasture and Matt Cain is a fly ball pitcher, too. But considering Belt is hitting 100 points higher against left-handers, it does seem costly to have Belt sitting on the bench.

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I asked Ryan Vogelsong if he’s getting a suntan on his right hand again now that he’s out of a splint. He showed me the hand and there’s still quite a bit of swelling around his pinky finger, which he fractured in three places – the metacarpal, the phalange as well as the knuckle where they come together.

He said he’s squeezing one of those stress putty balls to regain strength and work out atrophy. He’s also doing exercises to rebuild strength in his forearm. He’s not gripping a baseball yet, and isn’t sure when that will happen.

“They have a list of stuff, I do it, and then I wait to see what’s on the list the next day,” he said. “It’s getting better already. It’ll get there.”

What’s it like to be on the sidelines?

“It stinks,” he said. “Yeah, it’s tough.”

Worse because of how the team is struggling?

“Absolutely,” he said. “I just try to be around, be a sounding board for the guys if they need it. But yeah, it stinks.”

Vogelsong is eligible to return July 20 and likely will need another week or two, at least, beyond that before he’s ready.

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