Bochy on Kickham: 'I thought he had impressive stuff'
Mike Kickham pitched 2 1/3 innings in his major league debut, allowing four runs in a loss to the A's. (USA TODAY IMAGES)
SAN FRANCISCO -– Mike Kickham said he was determined to use his major league debut as a learning experience.
Among his first lessons: A major league club doesn’t like to take chances with a tired bullpen.
Kickham only recorded seven outs Tuesday night at Oakland, so the Giants sent him back to Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday to add a fresh arm. They purchased the contract of a familiar right-hander, Ramon Ramirez; another move will be announced to create space for him on the 40-man roster.
The Giants didn't want to take chances with a tired bullpen behind Tim Lincecum, who hasn't worked dependably deep into games for the better part of two seasons. Lincecum takes the mound against the A's at AT&T Park.
The Giants will need a No.5 starter again Sunday at St. Louis. Kickham, a Missouri State product and a diehard Cardinals fan as a kid, still could make that start. But he can only come back if he replaces another player going on the disabled list. With center fielder Angel Pagan’s uncertain hamstring, that’s a distinct possibility.
But if they don’t bring back Kickham, the Giants’ options would seem to be right-hander Chad Gaudin out of the bullpen or a move to promote right-hander Shane Loux, who threw a shutout in his last outing for Fresno.
Ramirez, a key addition to the 2010 bullpen that helped pitch the Giants to a World Series title, rejoined the Giants over the winter on a minor league contract and couldn’t crack the club in spring training.
(If you’d forgotten, the Giants had traded Ramirez along with Andres Torres to the Mets for Pagan prior to last season. Now all three players are together on the same roster.)
Ramirez earned a promotion after posting a 3.46 ERA with the Grizzlies with 31 strikeouts in 26 innings.