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 spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

Giants spring training Day 42: Blach still in the fifth starter mix

GLENDALE, Ariz. — Ty Blach is the young one in the race to be the fifth starter, but on Sunday he sounded like a veteran. Asked if he has gotten a hint one way or the other about his opening day role, Blach smiled.

“I’m just taking it day-by-day and trying to get better,” Blach said. “I’m enjoying the process and having fun.”

Smooth. 

Those days are adding up to a nice spring for Blach, the left-hander trying to unseat Matt Cain. While Bruce Bochy didn’t shed any additional light on the current lean, team officials hinted Sunday that this is not as open-and-shut as it seems. Matt Cain, who will start Tuesday, looked like a lock to be the fifth starter a week ago, but the Giants are considering all options because they have an off day during the first week and two more shortly thereafter. 

“We’ve had discussions every day,” Bochy said. “We’ve got some tough calls.”

The Giants are expected to announce their official rotation when they return home for the Bay Bridge Series. Whether he’s starting, long-relieving, or pitching in a completely new role, Blach has certainly done all he can to make sure he’s in the big leagues on April 2. He gave up two runs over six innings Sunday, walking one and striking out one while giving up seven hits. Blach has allowed 10 runs in 20 1/3 innings this spring, but four of those came when he was ambushed coming out of the bullpen one day.

“Wherever I’ll be, I know I’ll be in a good spot,” Blach said. “I’m just looking forward to getting the season rolling.

After pitching out of the bullpen most of the spring, Blach got his pitch count up to 85 on Sunday. 

“We’ve gotten him stretched out,” Bochy said. “That’s a solid, solid job. We’ve got guys stretched out where you want them. We’ve got some flexibility. We’ll see as we get close here which way we’ll go.”

POSITION BATTLES: The Giants will carry a backup for Denard Span, and for about a month it looked like Gorkys Hernandez would be that guy. But Hernandez has slumped so badly this spring that he went over the minor league facility Sunday to get a ton of extra at-bats, and Justin Ruggiano has emerged, reaching base in nine of his last 16 plate appearances. The plan a few days back was for Ruggiano to go to Sacramento and get 50 or so at-bats to see where he’s at, but this is another race that could change in the coming week. 

Cory Gearrin has done his part to hold off any charging relievers, throwing two sharp innings while going back-to-back for the first time this spring. 

FAMILIAR FACES: A rough day for a couple of longtime Giants. Ehire Adrianza and Gregor Blanco both have oblique injuries, hurting their odds of breaking with the Twins and Diamondbacks, respectively. Elsewhere, David Hernandez showed that he made a smart decision asking for his release. He was signed by the Braves. 

AROUND CAMP: Hunter Pence really does do all he can to make every single teammate feel welcome in the clubhouse. He spent some time with young right-hander Roberto Gomez on Sunday morning, learning a few Spanish phrases. When the players went out to warm up, Pence threw with Jae-Gyun Hwang. These are small gestures, but for the new guys, they matter. 

BARRY’S BACK: We all knew Barry Bonds would step into the cage at some point, and on a quiet Sunday morning, there he was. Bonds, 52, took about five or six easy hacks before crushing one out to deep right. He’s still got it. The other day, reporters asked Bonds if he could suit up in the WBC if asked. He said he can absolutely still hit, but he would need to DH and he would need a day or two off before games. Being a big league hitter is not easy, even if he always made it look that way.

 

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

Bonds dusts off swing, cracks home run during BP in Giants' camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants knew Barry Bonds would step back into the box at some point. It happened Sunday, with Bonds taking a few cracks at BP pitches from Gary Davenport.

Bonds warmed up with a couple of lighter swings and then blasted a homer to deep right. That was enough, as the 52-year-old walked away with a big smile on his face. 

Bonds is in camp as a special instructor, and he still picks his spots to show off his legendary swing. When he was the Marlins' hitting coach last season, he beat slugger Giancarlo Stanton in an impromptu home run derby.