Bochy considers shuffling late-inning relief roles, etc.


Bochy considers shuffling late-inning relief roles, etc.

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants landed Hunter Pence but didnt beefup their bullpen ahead of Tuesdays non-waiver trade deadline. Any deals theymake from this point are likely to be supplemental arms and not a full-fledgedcloser.

But Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he remained confident inhis late-game options.

I feel good about our situation here late in the ballgamebecause we have guys with experience, Bochy said.

BAGGARLY: Pence 'absolutely' would sign long-term with Giants

How will Bochy line up those guys, exactly? What is the pecking order?

Well, the manager acknowledged he wanted to give SantiagoCasilla and Sergio Romo some time out of the fire Tuesday night, when he hadleft-hander Jeremy Affeldt pitch the final two innings of a 4-1 victory overthe New York Mets.

Affeldt entered a 3-1 game and protected Tim Lincecumsvictory by retiring all six hitters he faced, three on strikeouts.

Since the All-Star break, Affeldt has held opponentsscoreless in eight of nine outings while holding them to a .108 average. Hesstruck out 11 and walked two in 11 23 innings.

Sounds like closer material to me.

Although Bochy didnt express a lack of confidence in Casilla, the right-hander has been scored upon in seven of 15 appearances beginning with his rough series June 22-24 at Oakland. Casilla has converted just five of 10 save chances over that run while serving up four homers, and he couldnt preserve a tie in the 10th inning of Monday nights loss to the Mets.

We'll have to see which way Bochy goes if he has a save situation tonight.

Aubrey Huff was placed back on the 15-day disabled list toclear a space on the active roster for Pence. Bochy said he didnt know howlong Huffs knee would keep him out this time.

Hector Sanchezs sprained knee passed all the tests atTriple-A Fresno and hes expected to be activated prior to Thursdays game.Bochy didnt commit to starting Sanchez, but its almost a given because BarryZito will be on the mound and its a day game after a night game.

EXTRA BAGGS: Posey welcomes pain in catching Lincecum, etc.

Bochy was asked if hell be more likely to let Buster Poseysoak up more starts at first base now that Sanchez will be on the roster again.The manager danced around the question a bit, but no doubt, it would behooveBrandon Belt to keep getting his hits.

Posey is going to catch for the most part, and Belts beenswinging better, Bochy said. But weve got a chance to get Hector, a prettygood bat in there.

Sanchez wont be appearing at first base any time soon,though. Hes been taking grounders there all season but Bochy said that PabloSandovals strained hamstring which he sustained while stretching to receivea throw at first base influenced the decision to take away Sanchezs lightlyused first basemans mitt.

You put a guy at a different position, theres a risk, tobe honest, Bochy said. I didnt think there was with Pablo, but it happened."

Sandoval could find himself back at first base when hereturns, though. If Marco Scutaro keeps hitting as the third baseman, that movewould be almost automatic.

Nate Schierholtz already has a home run in his Philliesdebut, and you fantasy leaguers already know what to do with your next supplementaldraft pick.

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today. 

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija whirled and fired a strike to Eduardo Nuñez shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. With that, the Giants took another step back toward actual baseball.

Monday was the first day of live batting practice sessions, but the most important one took place thousands of miles east of Scottsdale Stadium. Johnny Cueto faced teenage prospects at the club’s facility in Santo Domingo, and Bruce Bochy said he would call Cueto to check in on his progress. 

The Giants are not concerned that Cueto — who is tending to his ill father — is missing so much of spring training. They know him well enough by now to know that Cueto paces himself and takes care of his body. They are, however, starting to get a little concerned about Cueto missing so much camp and then going straight to the World Baseball Classic. 

“The spring started early so he’s got plenty of time to get ready for (opening day),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The question will be will he be ready for the WBC. That’s the question we have to answer.”

Bochy said he would like to see Cueto in the 50-60 pitch range before he goes off to compete for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican team opens play March 9 at Marlins Park. 

“We’re going to talk about a lot of things,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where he’s at, see where he’s at mentally, and see how his father is doing.”

Bochy noted that Nolan Ryan used to show up to camp on March 1 and throw 80 mph, working his way up from there. The Giants view Cueto the same way, but at some point there will be a breaking point where the WBC participation becomes a real concern. At the very least, Bochy said, Cueto might be asked to join the DR team later in the tournament.