ST. LOUIS – Angel Pagan missed his eighth consecutive game because of a bad hamstring, Pablo Sandoval remained out with a strained foot and Tim Lincecum reported to the bullpen when the Giants began their series finale at Busch Stadium on Sunday.
Lincecum was told to be ready if needed in relief during Saturday’s doubleheader and he’ll have spikes on in case spot starter Chad Gaudin, who is making his first start since 2009 with the Yankees, gets knocked out early.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy stressed that this is not the beginning of a transition to relief for the two-time Cy Young Award winner, who is struggling with major inconsistency for his second consecutive season in the rotation. It’s a one-time thing to cover the club.
(Coincidentally, I spoke at length with Lincecum this morning about whether he’d be open to a bullpen transition, either in the near future or down the road. I’ll file that story a little later today on CSNBayArea.com.)
Lincecum did not throw his usual side session. So if you see him warming up late in Sunday’s game, don’t assume he’s coming in to pitch. He’s probably just getting his work in.
Gaudin could throw up to 80 pitches, by the way.
As for Pagan, he ran sprints in the outfield and is available to pinch hit for the first time in the series, which is good news because the Giants’ bench otherwise would be Nick Noonan, Brandon Belt and Guillermo Quiroz.
Pagan, who had a cortisone shot in his ailing hamstring on Wednesday, told reporters that he planned to go to the ballpark on Monday’s day off to get treatment. Bochy was confident that Pagan would start Tuesday against the Toronto Blue Jays. (The manager also described Pagan as “definite” for Sunday when he arrived in St. Louis. So nothing’s guaranteed.)
Hindsight being what it is, the Giants should have put Pagan on the disabled list and called up another outfielder, such as Roger Kieschnick. But now that they’ve waited this long, it makes no sense to DL Pagan now. If they did, he wouldn’t be eligible to play next weekend’s important series at Arizona.
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As for Sandoval, this is how Bochy put it: “Pablo, I don’t know. We’re holding hope. I don’t want to say doubtful, because we’re holding hope he’ll be ready (for Tuesday).”
Sounds like doubtful to me.
One other note on the rotation: If Lincecum pitches in relief here in St. Louis, it would alter the rotation plans for the coming week. Instead of Lincecum and Barry Zito starting the two games against Toronto on Tuesday and Wednesday, Bochy would flip-flop the two starters.
The club still hasn’t made a decision whether they’d skip the No.5 starter or have Gaudin – or someone else – take the ball a week from Sunday at Arizona. No need to make that call until they see how it goes with Gaudin against the Cards, whether the rest of the rotation could benefit from an extra day of rest, etc.