Giants notes: Which starter gets relief call first?

October 7, 2012, 1:14 am
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SAN FRANCISCO -- Ryan Vogelsong plans to have his spikes on for the first pitch Saturday night. Same with Tim Lincecum and Barry Zito.

Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he is keeping each of those three starting pitchers in play to back up Matt Cain, if needed, in Game 1 of their NL Division Series against the Cincinnati Reds.

Only Madison Bumgarner, the Game 2 starter, will be wearing his turf shoes in the dugout.

Bochy would not announce his Game 3 starter on Tuesday in Cincinnati, but that decision has been reached. There are a couple reasons Bochy is holding his cards close. First, he doesn't want the Reds to know which starters he would be less likely to use in relief. And also, he doesn't want the pitcher bumped from the rotation to get bombarded by the media. (A situation that would be a bigger deal if it's Lincecum, the two-time Cy Young Award winner, who is bypassed.)

The announcement could come later Saturday night after Game 1. The Giants would be expected to send their Game 3 starter to the interview room to meet with reporters prior to Sunday's Game 2.

In the meantime, Bochy is leaving all his options open.

"They all could be used today -- Timmy or Vogelsong, Zito," he said. "Hopefully that's not the case because ... you're hoping you get a quality start and you can use the (relievers) you've used for the most part during the course of the season.

"Now, if something happens, we go extra innings, we do have some long guys. That's a nice quantity. As far as the pecking order, I don't want to give that right now, to be honest.

"With that said, I have talked to the other starters to they pretty much know when they're going to pitch and we'll hopefully be able to have them stay in their normal routine they would have before they would start a game. ... So it's not like we don't have an idea and they don't have an idea."

It's no secret that Lincecum had the worst season among the starting five, regardless of his dossier. His 5.18 ERA ranked dead last among 46 NL pitchers with enough innings to qualify for the ERA title.

Here's how the team's record broke down by starting pitcher:

Barry Zito (21-11), Matt Cain, (21-11), Ryan Vogelsong (19-12), Madison Bumgarner (19-13). Tim Lincecum (14-19).

One other factor: Lincecum can get loose in a hurry and never ices his arm. When the Giants drafted him in 2006, they had a thought that if he had durability issues as a starter, he could be a dominant short reliever. So don't be surprised if you see him warming up at some point during Game 1, if the Giants are struggling to get outs.

The Giants announced their NLDS roster on Friday. Bochy added today that relievers Jean Machi and Clay Hensley would remain with the team and travel to Cincinnati. Also on the travel squad is outfielderpinch runner Francisco Peguero and catcher Eli Whiteside.

The club allowed Justin Christian and Emmanuel Burriss to take leave. So if the club had decided to keep an extra pinch runner instead of a 12th pitcher, Peguero would've been the apparent choice despite his relative lack of experience.

Bochy said he felt the team could get by without the extra speed guy because Ryan Theriot could be used as a pinch hitter. (We know he likes to get frisky on the basepaths.) Also, Aubrey Huff had an injection in his troublesome knee a little more than a week ago and Bochy was feeling better about how the veteran first baseman was running on the last road trip. The Reds have a lot of lefties in their bullpen, so Huff could be used as a pinch hitter in the sixth or seventh innings.

"He has his bat speed back and you could have an important at-bat when (you need) an experienced guy who has been a DH in his career," Bochy said. "He has the ability to control his emotions and go up there and throw out a quality AB.

And if he gets on base, he'll be on base.

"If he (were) hobbling, this would be a tough decision," Bochy said.

Announcer Dave Flemming worked a Stanford game that went to overtime, fought through traffic and still made it to the field while the Reds were taking batting practice. Now that's a full workday.

Gotta go watch Alex Smith throw out the first pitch. What is the baseball equivalent of a perfect spiral -- a gyroball?

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