Giants notebook: Bochy's roster dillemmas

392659.jpg

Giants notebook: Bochy's roster dillemmas

Feb. 20, 2011
URBAN ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOMychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com

SCOTTSDALE -- The warm reunions are over, everyone knows what everyone else did over the winter, and the skipper has delivered his big speech.Now that all of the Giants have settled into camp at Scottsdale Stadium, it's finally time to set aside the glorious memories of Game 5 in Arlington and focus on the drama about to unfold over the next five weeks in the desert.Simply put, there are more players deserving to be Giants than the Giants can carry, many of them are in some way tied to the fate of multiple other players, and nobody's quite sure who will play where and when.Mark DeRosa, the starting left fielder on Opening Day last year, has been told by manager Bruce Bochy that he'll see much of his time this spring on the infield, presumably in preparation for a super-utility role. Yet Bochy wouldn't rule out the idea of DeRosa being his left-field starter on Opening Day this year, too.Pat Burrell, who lined a single off Tim Lincecum on Saturday and repeated the feat against Jonathan Sanchez on Sunday, is a candidate to start in left, too. That's where he spent most of last season after the Giants picked him up in May, but he lost the job with a miserable World Series and was quite clear that he'd have to earn it back when he signed a one-year, 1 million contract to return for 2011.And no matter how well Burrell plays this spring, there's a chance he still won't get the gig, and if that scenario plays out he'll be bumped to the bench by his best friend on the team.It's the Brandon Belt Effect. If Belt, the white-hot prospect already being unfairly burdened with the "Next Buster Posey" label, proves this spring that he's ready to handle big-league pitching, he'll be installed as the starting first baseman, and incumbent first baseman Aubrey Huff will move to left.Belt's roster status could have a far more profound impact on outfielder Nate Schierholtz and first baseman Travis Ishikawa. If Belt doesn't make the club, Bochy and GM Brian Sabean will have at least one difficult decision to make, and most signs point to Schierholtz being the odd man out. He's out of options, and his late-game defensive skills in right field aren't as valuable now that Cody Ross is the starter in right.Bochy said he wants Schierholtz to play all three outfield positions this spring to help improve his chances of sticking, but that can be seen as a kiss of death, too. And quite frankly, Schierholtz would probably be better served by a fresh start elsewhere.If Belt does make the team, Ishikawa might have to go, too. Like Schierholtz, Ishikawa is out of options, and Belt's defensive prowess negates the need for Ishikawa's slick glove.Of course, a trade of Aaron Rowand could change everything. It's unlikely, though, and not only because of the money Rowand is owed. The Giants won't come out and say it, but they're far too smart to not be hedging their bets at least a little on Andres Torres, whose breakout season at age 32 could just as easily prove to be a flash in the pan as it is to have marked the start of a classic late-bloomer's tale.When Bochy said he's decided not to play Rowand on the corners this spring, saying he wants Rowand to stay in center, where he's comfortable, he might very well have been saying something else between the lines. Like, "Rowand is our only center fielder with a track record."Some of these guys might even be affected by left-hander Madison Bumgarner, for crying out loud. Bumgarner, the projected No. 5 starter, might open the season at Triple-A Fresno because the Giants' schedule includes days off that would make a four-man rotation feasible early on, allowing Bochy to retain an extra position player coming out of camp.Eventually, of course, that extra player will lose his spot upon Bumgarner's return. Unless he goes nuts while Bumgarner is gone.Then the numbers game starts all over again, but it won't be nearly as difficult to decipher -- or handicap -- as the one that just started in Scottsdale.

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start

Bumgarner throws three innings of no-hit ball in first rehab start

BOX SCORE

Madison Bumgarner was back on the bump Sunday night in a Giants jersey for the first time since being placed on the DL due to a dirt bike accident on April 21.

Bumgarner took the mound for the Arizona Rookie League Giants against the Arizona Rookie League Angels and did not allow a hit in three innings pitched. The Giants' ace also struck out two and walked one. 

In both the first and third innings, Bumgarner pitched a perfect three up and three down frame. 

Bumgarner was diagnosed with a Grade 2 sprain of his left throwing shoulder and sustained bruised ribs from his dirt bike accident on an off day in Colorado. Pitching in a game for the first time in over two months, Bumgarner was throwing between 88-91 miles per hour, according to Tommy Stokke of FanRagSports. 

After finishing his three innings of work, Bumgarner went down to the bullpen to increase his pitch count, reports Sande Charles of FanRagSports

Before sustaining the injury, Bumgarner was 0-3 with a 3.00 ERA in four starts this season. 

The Giants have gone 21-41 since Bumgarner's injury. They are 27-51 on the year and sit 24.5 games behind the Dodgers in the NL West. 

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

After another Giants clunker, Bochy tells players 'enough is enough'

SAN FRANCISCO — A few minutes after yet another missed opportunity at the plate Sunday, a voice came over a speaker in the press box at AT&T Park and announced a 524th consecutive sellout. It nicely summed up this current stretch of Giants baseball. 

The seats are emptier than they used to be at first pitch, and they were just about abandoned in the ninth inning of an 8-2 loss, but for the most part the fans are still showing up in droves. One woman brought a toaster by the dugout Sunday morning and asked players and coaches to sign it, hoping to recapture the magic from across the bridge. Another, Bryan Stow, made his first appearance of the season at AT&T Park, met with Bruce Bochy, and said he hoped to see a win. As Matt Moore started warming up, a band set up on top of the visiting dugout to play hits that celebrated the 50th anniversary of the Summer of Love. 

For a while, AT&T Park was rocking. And then, as has happened so often this summer, the game started. 

The Giants turned in another epic clunker in a season full of them. They have lost 12 of their last 13 games and 21 of 26, but it’s worse than the raw numbers. On most nights, some in the organization have noted privately, they are simply boring. It’s one thing to lose, it’s quite another to do it in this way. 

“There’s no getting around it,” Bochy said after the sweep. “I’ve been through some tough stretches here and this is as tough as any stretch I’ve seen. For some reason the baseball gods are really testing us here and (testing) this group. It’s not that they’re not coming out ready or trying, but enough is enough.

“At some point, we’ve got to find a way to get this thing turned around.”

Even a slight pivot would be welcomed by the faithful. There were scattered boos Sunday, the latest in a growing trend. This is a fan base that has seen the highest highs, but rarely in franchise history have the lows been this low. 

The crowd no longer turns to the rally lights that were used so often in an awful April, but the noise still grows with each new rally. And then, every single time Sunday, the Giants killed off any hope. 

In the second inning, a Brandon Belt bunt single and Brandon Crawford bloop put two on, but a pair of rookies flied out. 

In the third, the bases were loaded ahead of Buster Posey. He flied out to bring one run across, and there were still runners on the corners for Belt, who leads the team in homers. On a 2-2 count, Hunter Pence inexplicably took off for second. He was caught, the inning was over, and the two-run Mets lead was intact. Bochy said he did not send Pence. 

In the sixth, there were two on with no outs for Posey. Both runners bolted to stay out of a double play. Posey popped up to first -- for a double play.

“He’s not a guy that strikes out, so I’m pretty confident sending runners with Buster,” Bochy said. “We can’t keep laying back. We’re trying to force the issue a bit and stay out of double plays.”

In the eighth, the Giants loaded the bases for Posey and Belt. Posey grounded out. Belt struck out for the third time. 

“We’re getting guys out there,” Bochy said. “We’re not doing enough damage.”

Matt Moore’s damage was self-inflicted. He twice gave up homers to the guy — Rene Rivera — hitting in front of the pitcher. Moore said he has stopped throwing his cutter the past three starts and tried to get his four-seamer going, but the Mets were teeing off. Moore gave up five runs on seven hits. He was pulled in the fifth, left to think about mechanics that still aren’t right. 

“The cutter is a little bit different of a pitch and at times it can take away from the four-seam fastball location-wise, and command of the four-seam was starting to go down the more I threw (the cutter),” Moore said. “I’m anxious to get back to it, but the foundation has got to be throwing the four-seam fastball. I need to execute where they’re carrying through the zone, not running or cutting.”

Moore said his confidence is fine and his problems are not physical. Others can no longer say that. Austin Slater, a rare bright spot in this five-win month, was pulled with a tight hip flexor. He was headed for an MRI. 

Slater is too young to be one of the players Bochy approached after the game. He said he talked to a few, though, passing along that “enough is enough” message. Moore, last in the National League in ERA (6.04), was not one who needed a reminder. 

“I’m sitting on a six right now with not a lot of wins and not enough team wins when I’m throwing,” he said. “It’s been 'enough' for me for the last couple of months.”