Bond, Peguero among candidates for Sept. call-up

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Bond, Peguero among candidates for Sept. call-up

September 1st is a day that fans and hopeful minor leaguers look forward to each season. As that fateful day inches closer, fans and beat writers speculate who might be called up when rosters expand.

Prospects like Francisco Peguero and Heath Hembree could be sporting the black and orange in a few short weeks. There are several other minor leaguers who have had successful seasons as well, like infielder Brock Bond and relievers Jean Machi and Mitch Lively, that could be called up. The San Francisco Giants will most likely call up first baseman Brett Pill, catcher Eli Whiteside and relief pitchers Dan Otero and Steve Edlefsen, who have all spent time at the big league level this season.In the wake of Melky Cabreras 50-game suspension, outfielder Peguero has been brought up by beat writers and fans as a possible option down the stretch. Peguero is on the 40-man roster and has had a consistent first season at the Triple-A level.I am working hard and its not up to me, Peguero said when asked about being a potential call up in the next few weeks.In 100 games, the Giants number two prospect is hitting .274 (118-for-430) with 20 doubles, ten triples, and five home runs. On Saturday night, he extended his current hit streak to 18 games after going 2-for-4. Over the 18-game streak, Peguero is hitting .338 with eight doubles, a triple and 11 RBI.I have been working on my mechanics, Peguero said. And trying to get better pitches to hit.Bond has been hitting a quiet .330 plus all season with Triple-A Fresno. Last year, Bonds season was cut short when he was hit with a line drive in the head during batting practice. He suffered a concussion and wasnt even able to run on a treadmill without feeling dizzy for several months. In 19 games in 2011, he batted .246 (14-for-57) with one double, two triples and three runs batted in.

Prior to 2011's season-ending injury, Bond posted solid numbers at each minor league level. In 2010, he split time between Triple-A Fresno and Double-A Richmond, knocking in a combined 39 runs, with 27 doubles and five triples in 129 games. This season is no exception for the utility infielder; he is currently batting .343 (97-for-283) with 11 doubles, two triples and 28 RBI in 90 games.This season I have learned to be more consistent, Bond said. Not playing everyday and sitting the bench for a while and then going in randomly, I feel like I have been ready.He has played second base, third base and left field but spent the majority of his time being the designated hitter. As a pinch hitter he is hitting .421 (8-for-19) with a double and an RBI. Bond would be a great bat off the bench for the San Francisco Giants; the only problem is that he is not on the 40-man roster.I have always wanted to play in the big leagues, Bond said. Its been on my mind since I was a little kid. That is my goal and if it happened I would be really excited.Heath Hembree has been the topic of conversation since he was drafted in the 5th round of the 2010 first-year player draft. When closer Brian Wilson hit the disabled list a few games into the season, fans were hoping that the flame-thrower would get the call to the big leagues. That didnt happen, but Hembree still has a very good shot at being a September call-up. Hembree had a great start to his Triple-A career, posting a 2.00 ERA in nine games with five saves in April. From April 26th to May 5th, Hembree saved six consecutive games without giving up a hit or a run. In mid-April the Fresno Grizzlies stopped using him in back-to-back games. Hembree was placed on the disabled list on July 5th with a strained flexor muscle in his forearm after giving up five runs in two-thirds of an inning the night before. Before heading back to Triple-A Fresno, Hembree made five relief appearances for High-A San Jose from August 8th to August 17th. In five games, he struck out seven and walked one without giving up a run or allowing a hit. He was activated in Triple-A Fresno on Sunday.Machi and Lively are two right-handed pitchers that deserve to be considered for a September call-up. Several scouts have mentioned to me over the season that both of them are major league ready. Machi, 30, has shared the closer position with Heath Hembree all season. He is 2-1 with 12 saves and a 3.88 ERA. Fans might remember him almost breaking spring training with the Giants. Lively, 26, is used in the seventh and eighth innings for Triple-A Fresno. He is 6-4 with a 3.26 in 41 games. In the month of August, he is 1-0 with a 1.50 ERA. In 12 innings he has struck out 13 while only allowing two runs and six hits.

Giants lineup: Belt in left field, Kelby at second base

Giants lineup: Belt in left field, Kelby at second base

Programming note: Dodgers-Giants coverage starts today at 11:30am with Giants Pregame Live on NBC Sports Bay Area, and streaming live right here.

Dave Roberts and Bruce Bochy issued their lineups for today's series finale at AT&T Park:

Dodgers (10-12)
1. Enrique Hernandez (R) CF
2. Corey Seager (L) SS
3. Justin Turner (R) 3B
4. Yasiel Puig (R) RF
5. Chris Taylor (R) 2B
6. Austin Barnes (R) C
7. Scott Van Slyke (R) 1B
8. Cody Bellinger (L) LF
9. Julio Urias (L) P

Giants (8-14) 
1. Hunter Pence (R) RF
2. Brandon Belt (L) LF
3. Eduardo Nunez (R) SS
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
6. Nick Hundley (R) C
7. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Matt Moore (L) P (1-3, 5.87 ERA)

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

Morse, Arroyo stun Dodgers, lift Giants to thrilling comeback win

SAN FRANCISCO — This spring, Hunter Pence briefly tried to cut back on his coffee intake. The experiment did not last long for a player who is pure caffeine on and off the field, but even Pence is occasionally in need of more than a large cold brew. 

Pence tried to stay upbeat throughout a sluggish start to the season, but around him was a clubhouse in need of energy. Christian Arroyo walked through the door on Monday. Two days later, Michael Morse arrived.

“That’s quite an energy jolt,” Pence said of Arroyo. “Morse, it’s been an energy jolt as well.”

The two recent River Cats sent a pair of jolts through a stadium that was sold out for the 499th consecutive time. Arroyo hit a two-run homer in the seventh, his first in the big leagues. Morse went deep in the eighth for his first big league hit in two years and first homer as a Giant since the 2014 NLCS. 

Pence is close friends with Morse and an admirer of Arroyo, the 21-year-old who has taken a locker a few feet away. He made sure neither jolt went to waste, hitting a walk-off sacrifice fly in the 10th to give the Giants a thrilling 4-3 win they hope they can build on.

“That was a shot in the arm,” Morse said.

The big slugger was just that earlier Wednesday. Morse agreed to terms on a minor league deal at Pence’s wedding last winter and he was on track for Opening Day before a hamstring injury. He was so excited by Wednesday’s call back to San Francisco that he beat Bruce Bochy to the park. The manager tried to lower expectations before the game, telling reporters that Morse would not be a regular starter, especially in left, where the Giants have watched a black hole open. 

Morse was here for the late innings, for the moment when Bochy looks at him and says simply, “Get ready, Mo.” For most of Wednesday’s game, it looked like that big moment wouldn’t come. Alex Wood took a no-hitter into the sixth but he was pulled in the seventh by a Dodgers staff trying to protect his arm. Sergio Romo entered and soon faced a kid who was 19 the first time he walked into Romo’s clubhouse. 

“He’s been doing the same thing in the big leagues with good results for a long time,” Arroyo said. 

Arroyo got the slider that’s always coming, low and away, and he drilled it deep to left-center. He hit only three homers last year but Giants management felt the 36 doubles at Richmond showed a developing power bat. The strength has come quickly, and the ball carried into the first row of seats. 

“I looked up and saw the ump waving and I was like, ‘I’ve got to slow down,’” Arroyo said, smiling. “I tried to slow down and take it all in.”

As Arroyo crossed the plate and looked to the sky, his family shared hugs — without spilling a nacho — in a section overlooking the home dugout. The ballpark roared. A 3-0 deficit had been nearly erased. 

“Now it’s a one-run game,” Bochy said. “Anything can happen.”

Even by that standard, Morse’s blast was improbable. This is a player who didn’t have a hit last season before being sent home by the Pittsburgh Pirates. A player who, at 35, was having a poor spring before he announced to a reporter one day that he was going to hit a homer -- and then promptly did. On a rehab assignment over the past week, Morse had a .250 average and no homers, but he insisted to general manager Bobby Evans that his swing was ready. 

Evans believed, and Morse rewarded him with a moment that had everyone in the park throwing it back to 2014. Just as in the deciding game of the NLCS against the Cardinals, Morse was sent up as a pinch-hitter in the eighth. Sidewinding Pat Neshek was replaced by fire-balling Pedro Baez, but the approach was the same. 

“Swing hard,” Morse said. “Just in case you hit it.”

Baez kept pumping fastballs and Morse turned on one at 97 mph. He raised his arm the same way he did three years ago, an inning before Travis Ishikawa’s heroics. 

“I’m not going to lie,” Bochy said. “I was thinking about that game against St. Louis.”

All the Giants were. 

“You kind of just sit there and shake your head a little bit because it was very similar to his last homer here,” Posey said. “Even his excitement out of the box was similar.”

Morse said he didn’t intend to strike the same pose. 

“I was like, ‘I hope I didn’t strike out and I’m just running around the bases,’” he said, laughing. “It was cool, man. Not only for me, but for the team.”

For four innings, the surging bullpen made sure the homers would not be a fun footnote to another loss. Gorkys Hernandez kicked off the winning rally in the 10th with a single. He was pushed along by a stolen base, walk and bunt. Pence stepped in with no outs and engaged in one of the strangest battles of a career full of them. 

Ross Stripling, a starter with a deep repertoire, kept pumping 94 mph fastballs up near Pence’s eyes. Pence swung through one, fouled off five, and took three more for balls. Only one of the pitches he saw was in the strike zone. In the dugout, Posey shook his head in amusement. 

“It was kind of hard not to laugh,” Posey said. “He’s probably the only guy who can do that.”

Some Giants couldn’t hold the laughter in, even in a tense spot.

“He had that ‘Thou shall not walk’ going in that at-bat,” Bochy said. “He probably expanded as much as I’ve ever seen. If he would have walked it would have gone down as one of the more amazing walks with all the balls he swung at.”

On a night full of so much energy, a walk would have been an anticlimactic ending. Pence, who had been expecting a curveball the whole at-bat, lofted a 10th fastball deep enough to left to score Hernandez and send the Giants streaming out of the dugout. 

Arroyo, the youngest of them all, went sprinting across the infield. Morse followed, and soon he had Pence wrapped in a hug. Hours earlier, he had promised that at the very least, he would bring energy to the clubhouse. He delivered more than anyone could have imagined.

“To do that is one of those special moments that can change a season,” Pence said. “It was electric ... Morsey being Morsey.”