Bochy challenges Affeldt to be in better shape next season

Bochy challenges Affeldt to be in better shape next season
September 18, 2013, 3:00 pm
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For Jeremy, it’s been a rough year for him. He just said he wants to come into spring training in the best shape he’s been in.
Bruce Bochy

NEW YORK – Marco Scutaro wants to play again this season and the Giants are willing to let him try after an MRI exam showed no additional structural damage in his left pinky finger.

But you can probably call it a season for left-hander Jeremy Affeldt.

Affeldt experienced more soreness in his strained groin when he took the loss last Thursday at Dodger Stadium; it was his first major league appearance since July 20, when he limped off the mound after aggravating the injury.

Although Bruce Bochy wouldn’t rule out Affeldt pitching again, the Giants’ manager had a private conversation with the left-hander on Tuesday. Bochy challenged Affeldt to come to camp in better condition and in a clearer frame of mind next season.

“I hope we learned from this – all of us,” Bochy said. “In the role we’re in, whether it’s pitcher or position player, it’s important to get better whether it’s on the conditioning side or the mental side. For Jeremy, it’s been a rough year for him. He just said he wants to come into spring training in the best shape he’s been in.”

Affeldt, 34, is finishing up the first season of a three-year contract that will pay him $6 million per season – a hefty amount for a middle reliever, but a contract that he warranted because of his effectiveness against both right-handers and left-handers as well as his ability to keep the ball in the park.

Affeldt did not provide a solid return on the club’s investment this season. He was 1-5 with a 3.74 ERA and his SO/BB (1.24) was exactly half what it was the year before (2.48). He allowed eight runs over his last nine relief appearances.

After he went on the DL in July, Affeldt said he had been trying to pitch through groin soreness for some time – a statement that surprised Bochy.

The manager had to wonder whether the World Baseball Classic – Affeldt pitched for Team USA – contributed to his uneven and injury-marred season. The Giants had eight participants in the tournament and only two – Scutaro and Sergio Romo – avoided the disabled list. (And Scutaro has been banged up all season.)

“I don’t know if it was bad luck or that played a part,” Bochy said. “Everybody who participated in the WBC had issues. Even Romo, when he came back, he felt his elbow a little and we didn’t pitch him for a few days.”

Bad luck has played a part in Affeldt’s past injuries. He missed time in the second half of 2010 with a torn oblique, he stabbed himself while trying to separate frozen burger patties in 2011 and he went on the DL in May of last year when his young son crashed into his knee.

While some of his injuries have been laughing matters, there is nothing funny about a pitcher whose body might be breaking down when he’s owed $6 million each of the next two years.

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