Giants

Bochy, Giants want bullpen competition: 'Roles are earned'

Bochy, Giants want bullpen competition: 'Roles are earned'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tuesday was the first official day of workouts at Scottsdale Stadium, but Bruce Bochy looks at another day as the annual start of his season. 

“It seems like when the Super Bowl ends that that’s the trigger of, ‘We’re on,’” Bochy said. “For a manager you’re always thinking about things, but that’s where you say ‘it’s our time.’”

For the World Series to once again be Bochy’s time, he’ll need to find a better mix in the bullpen. The ninth inning is easy and was set in stone the second Mark Melancon put pen to paper. The rest is a puzzle, and Bochy on Tuesday clarified an earlier comment about when it might be put together. He had said at the winter meetings that the roles would be set early, but he clarified that “early” simply means sometime during the spring. The Giants seem to have all the pieces they need, just without an order, but both Bochy and general manager Bobby Evans made a point Tuesday of pushing for a more open competition. 

“Roles are earned,” Bochy said.

So, while you can picture Derek Law or Hunter Strickland in the eighth and Steven Okert or Josh Osich being the second lefty, the Giants aren’t ready to just give jobs away to young players. That was abundantly clear earlier Tuesday when David Hernandez, a seven-year veteran of the big leagues, walked into camp. Hernandez will make $1.5 million if he’s on the big league club and the Giants are certainly going to take a long look this spring. 

“Any time you can get an experienced pitcher with his stuff, now he’s definitely in the picture as we start to make up this bullpen,” Bochy said. “We lost half the bullpen or close to it with Casilla and Javi and Romo. David is a guy that’s been around. He has great stuff and he could be part of this bullpen now.”

The Giants have always liked their veterans, and there’s something to be said for having a talented young arm or two sent back to Triple-A, especially because you can bet the Giants will use the new 10-day DL to option certain pitchers back and forth. 

While Hernandez will join a big group of right-handers with MLB experience — Bryan Morris, Jose Dominguez and Neil Ramirez are among the non-roster invitees — the competition is considerably less complicated from the left side. Will Smith is a lock as the Jeremy Affeldt-type, but Bochy said Osich and Okert aren’t necessarily fighting for the lefty specialist job that opened when Lopez departed. 

“They’re both guys that can face right-handers,” Bochy said.

Osich was equally tough on lefties and righties as a rookie, but right-handed hitters put up a .371 on-base percentage and slugged .528 against him last year. Osich is confident that offseason knee surgery will get him back to his old self, and Bochy is hopeful that Osich’s changeup returns to form. Okert has a more limited big league resume, but the staff feels that he too can be a full-inning guy. 

Bochy expects clarity in all these races during the last half or third of spring, and he said that while he wants a more defined bullpen than he had a year ago, he also won’t get caught up in titles.

“Every game is a little bit different,” he said. 

Some might call for George Kontos and his ability to pick up a starter. Some might call for Cory Gearrin’s repertoire against tough right-handed hitters. Some will call for possibilities you can’t envision in February or March. Bochy has won three titles in large part because of his ability to sort through those hurdles, and after a rare down year for the group, he’s eager to right the ship.

“I really feel that when we leave here we’re going to have a good bullpen, a solid bullpen, and they’re going to complement each other from the left and right side,” he said. “When you have your closer, it’s a little bit easier to build down.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 9-4 win over Marlins

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 9-4 win over Marlins

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — The main event Tuesday night in Miami was Madison Bumgarner vs. Giancarlo Stanton. After that was over, the Giants got to work. 

Carlos Moncrief, pinch-hitting for Bumgarner, sparked a three-run rally in the seventh as the Giants ran away with a 9-4 win over the Marlins. Moncrief’s RBI single tied the game and his aggressive base running led to the go-ahead run on a Stanton error. 

Here are five things to know from the second night in Miami, with an emphasis on two large gentlemen … 

—- Round 1 of Bumgarner-Stanton probably should have ended with a homer. Bumgarner started Stanton off with a cutter low, and then went way high for ball two. Another cutter nicked the inside of the plate for a strike. On 2-1, Bumgarner threw a 90 mph fastball that leaked over the heart of the plate. Stanton smoked it into left, but just for a single. 

—- Round 2 ended with Stanton homering for the 44th time this season, and sixth consecutive game. Bumgarner started the at-bat with a good curveball for a strike, but he got burned when he tried to go down in the dirt with a cutter. Buster Posey put his glove down a couple inches above the plate but the cutter never got down. Stanton crushed it 442 feet with an exit velocity of 107 mph. He watched it fly, and Bumgarner watched him run to first. 

—- Bumgarner won Round 3. Stanton fouled off a fastball and swung through a cutter on the way to 3-2. Bumgarner threw a hard curveball at Stanton’s back foot and he whiffed. 

—- Stanton, Marcell Ozuna and Christian Yelich were 6-for-6 against Bumgarner coming into the fifth. He struck them all out in order that inning. Overall, Bumgarner gave up four earned on nine hits in six innings. He struck out four. Bumgarner also had an RBI single off the wall. 

—- Mark Melancon’s stuff has taken a step up since he returned. He hit 93 mph and threw a handful of sharp curveballs while getting through the seventh against the top of Miami’s lineup.

Joe Panik joins Brandon Belt on 7-day concussion DL

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AP

Joe Panik joins Brandon Belt on 7-day concussion DL

One entire side of the Giants infield is now on the concussion disabled list.

Second baseman Joe Panik was placed on the 7-day DL Tuesday, joining first baseman Brandon Belt.

Panik took a hard tag to the face during the second game of Sunday's doubleheader against the Nationals.

The move is retoractive to August 14.

Infielder Orlando Calixte was recalled to take Panik's spot on the roster.

This is the second time in two years that Panik has landed on the disabled list with a concussion. Last July, then-Rays pitcher Matt Moore plunked Panik in the head with a pitch. It took 10 days before the Giants would place their second baseman on the DL. This time, it took just two days.