SAN DIEGO –- The Giants made a series of roster moves Saturday, all but one of them expected.
They officially handed a No. 23 uniform to outfielder Jeff Francoeur after purchasing his contract from Triple-A Fresno. As Giants manager Bruce Bochy said a day earlier, Francoeur will form the right-handed portion of a left field platoon with Kensuke Tanaka.
The club also activated right-hander Santiago Casilla, who missed nearly two months after surgery to remove a bone cyst near his knee. Casilla had a 1.89 ERA in 21 appearances and the Giants have struggled to find a dependable right-handed setup presence in his absence.
As expected, right-hander Jean Machi and infielder Nick Noonan were optioned to Fresno to clear space on the active roster. But to clear a 40-man roster space for Francoeur, the Giants designated right-hander Chris Heston for assignment.
Heston was 7-6 with a 5.80 ERA for Fresno and PCL hitters were batting .301 against him. But he won ERA titles in the Double-A Eastern League last year and in the Single-A Cal League the season before that. Entering the spring, Heston and Mike Kickham were seen as the two most viable candidates to provide rotation depth from the upper levels of the system.
Heston can be outrighted if no club claims him on waivers.
The Giants already had one player claimed Saturday, when the Cubs grabbed outfielder Cole Gillespie off waivers. He’ll play in the same town as White Sox infielder Conor Gillaspie. It wasn’t too confusing when they were in the same Scottsdale Stadium clubhouse this spring, so I’m sure they’ll figure it out.
I’ll report more on this later today, but for now, Matt Cain threw off a bullpen mound with no apparent hesitation. That might turn out to be the best news of the day for the Giants. They can waiver shop and make all the roster moves they want. But without a healthy and effective Cain, you can torpedo any thought of October baseball.