Bochy pens Game 1 lineup for Giants

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Bochy pens Game 1 lineup for Giants

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy faced just one tough decision in his starting lineup for Game 1 of the NL Division Series Saturday at AT&T Park against the Cincinnati Reds:

Does he take speed, defense and a left-handed matchup with Gregor Blanco? Or would he be swayed by Xavier Nady's career numbers (5 for 8, one home run) against Reds right-hander Johnny Cueto?

Despite a solid final road trip that included a couple surprising defensive plays, Nady will be on the bench. Bochy confirmed he'll go with Blanco as part of what will be a fairly standard lineup against a right-handed pitcher:

1) Angel Pagan (CF)
2) Marco Scutaro (2B)
3) Pablo Sandoval (3B)
4) Buster Posey (C)
5) Hunter Pence (RF)
6) Brandon Belt (1B)
7) Gregor Blanco (LF)
8) Brandon Crawford (SS)
9) Matt Cain (P)

"You do look at the numbers, but Blanco will be out there," Bochy said. "We'll have Nady on the bench. That's a tough call, it really is."

The Giants remain a pitching-and-defense team at its essence. Blanco is their best defender in left field, and despite a second-half nosedive, he had better at-bats while hitting .320 with a .393 on-base percentage over his final 14 games.

Putting Blanco in the lineup means the Giants will be tempted to carry another speed guy for the bench, especially if Aubrey Huff is on the team as a pinch hitter. Bochy hinted that he and his staff still needed to have a conversation or two before they set the roster; they might announce it after the workout, but they're not obligated to do so until three hours before the first pitch Saturday.

In other news, Bochy said he has spoken with all his starting pitchers and let them know the plan when the series shifts to Cincinnati for Game 3.

"We haven't announced it in case we want to tweak it," said Bochy, reiterating that Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong all could be used in relief in the first two games. "At least they have a good idea of ... if they don't pitch out of the bullpen, they know when they'll have a chance to pitch."

Finally, in case you hadn't heard, Game 2 on Sunday will start at 6:37 p.m. PDT. Same as Game 1.

Giants place Melancon on DL, make series of roster moves

Giants place Melancon on DL, make series of roster moves

SAN FRANCISCO -- Mark Melancon's outing Tuesday night was one of his best of a rough year. The momentum didn't last long. 

Melancon was placed on the disabled list Wednesday morning with the same right pronator strain that cost him 12 games in May. To help out a pitching staff that covered 14 innings Tuesday, the Giants called starter Dan Slania up from Double-A. 

Melancon struck out two in Tuesday's win. After a shaky start to his season, he has three straight scoreless outings, with just one hit allowed and three strikeouts. 

"He threw great last night, had good stuff," manager Bruce Bochy said. "But he showed up and he could really feel it (today). We need to get this behind us."

Bochy said he hopes Melancon is back when his 10 days on the DL are up, but that seems very, very optimistic. Melancon is going for an MRI, and given the team's record, there's no reason for him to rush back. 

In the meantime, Sam Dyson, designated for assignment by the Rangers just a few weeks ago, is the team's closer. Dyson has been sharp since coming to San Francisco and he threw well the previous two games. He is not expected to be available Wednesday because of the heavy recent workload. Hunter Strickland could fill in for a day. 

Slania, is a hulking 25-year-old right-hander who was added to the 40-man roster in the offseason after a big 2016. Listed at 6-foot-5, 275 pounds, Slania was moved from the bullpen to rotation last season and promptly posted a 1.48 ERA in 10 starts. He was promoted to Triple-A this season but struggled and was sent back to Richmond. Slania has a 6.44 ERA in 15 starts this year but the Giants were short on options. 

Tyler Beede, the likely first choice, threw eight innings for Sacramento on Monday and would not have been available today. Joan Gregorio is on the disabled list with a back injury that will cost him at least a month. Slania is here to help a tired bullpen, and it's likely another move will come this weekend, when the Giants also have to activate Eduardo Nuñez. For now, Bochy said the staff is hoping to get a look at Slania and see if there's a tweak that can be made at the big league level.

Down on the Farm: Now healthy, Steven Duggar joining San Jose Giants

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USATSI

Down on the Farm: Now healthy, Steven Duggar joining San Jose Giants

Madison Bumgarner pitched in his first rehab game to a bunch of terrified teenagers in the Arizona Rookie League on Sunday, making one poor soul sweat tears through his batting gloves and toss his bat into Monday.

While Bumgarner being back on the hill in a game was the biggest news, there was another name to know on the Arizona Rookie League Giants that day. 

One of the Giants’ top prospects, Steven Duggar, joined the San Jose Giants in Advanced Single-A on Wednesday, NBC Sports Bay Area has learned. He went hitless in three at-bats in the Arizona Rookie League while walking twice in his first two games of the season after dealing with a flexor strain in his forearm that kept him out for an extended period, plus hamstring tightness. 

Duggar, a 23-year-old center fielder, is ranked as the Giants’ No. 4 prospect by MLB Pipeline and No. 10 by Baseball America. 

The Giants’ sixth-round pick in 2015 out of Clemson is the franchise’s closest center fielder to the major leagues. Ever since the draft he’s answered the call at every challenge handed to him. 

In 2016, Duggar excelled in San Jose and in Double-A Richmond after earning a promotion. 

Duggar batted .284 with a .386 on-base percentage and a .462 slugging percentage while hitting nine home runs in 70 games for San Jose. Though his power fell in Richmond’s pitcher’s park to only one more home run, Duggar kept on hitting at Double-A. He slashed .321/.391/.432 with 78 hits in 60 games.

Duggar joined the Giants for his first big-league camp this spring training and impressed at the plate. The switch-hitter went 4-for-12 with a double and two stolen bases in 11 games. He even showed a keen eye at the plate, walking four times to help his .500 on-base percentage. 

San Jose is now the home of the Giants’ top two center field prospects in Duggar and Bryan Reynolds. In his last four games, Reynolds has been on fire at the plate, hitting .500 (10-for-20) with eight RBI. It will be interesting to see how two key pieces to the Giants’ future fit in the same outfield. Duggar played primarily in right field with San Jose last season — 60 games to five in center — but then Richmond penciled him exclusively in center field. Reynolds has played 43 games in center, 11 in right and two in left field this year with San Jose.

If it weren’t for his injuries Duggar sustained in the spring, he most likely would have started off the season in Triple-A Sacramento and could have easily found his way to San Francisco’s revolving door of outfielders. Expect him to join Sacramento’s outfield after not too long in San Jose. With the front office taking a hard look at their young players, it would be nice to see Duggar earn a September call-up for the Giants as the team continues to evaluate their future options in the outfield. 

Around The Horn 

—  Jae-Gyun Hwang is officially with the Giants. The former star in Korea has an opt-out in his contract on July 1 and the Giants decided it was time to see how his bat transfers to the majors. Hwang hit .287/.333/.476 for Sacramento in 68 games and knocked his seventh and final Triple-A home run in his last game with the team. 

— Giants top pitching prospect Tyler Beede tossed his best game of the season on Monday night. After coming off a performance in which he allowed seven earned runs in just 4 1/3 innings pitched, Beede went a season-high eight innings where he only allowed two earned runs — off two solo shots — and struck out seven batter to two walks. 

— Giants top catching prospect Aramis Garcia has gone 3-for-7 in San Jose’s last two games. All three hits went over the fence, giving him 11 home runs on the season.