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.

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

Why you shouldn't freak out in June about Cueto's opt-out

SAN FRANCISCO — There’s a very important fact you need to keep in mind when talk of Johnny Cueto’s opt-out comes up, as it so often will over the next six weeks: The Giants always expected him to opt-out after this season, from the moment the ink was dry on the six-year, $130-million contract. 

When you sign at the top of your game and have a chance to hit the market at 31 years old and cash out a second time, you take it. Those are just the rules of professional sports. On the day Cueto was introduced, his agent, Bryce Dixon, said the two-year opt-out was important because they felt Cueto didn’t get a totally fair shot at free agency. 

“Johnny, a little bit unfairly, had a lot of questions about his arm,” Dixon said in December of 2015. “I felt we could reestablish his actual value … He knows he’s as good as (David) Price and (Zack) Greinke, but his situation was a little different.”

The Giants were fine with this, too. The flip side of the opt-out is that if you have the chance to pay a dominant right-hander $46 million over two years, and then escape his mid- to late-thirties, you do it. Every time. You don’t even blink. 

So, here we are, in June of the second year of that deal, with reports that Cueto will opt out. You should take a deep breath because you should have already expected this. But if you didn’t, take comfort in this: By all indications, Cueto has not made a decision, even with the Giants having an unimaginably poor season. 

First of all, Cueto can't make a decision in June. What if the blisters return and he repeats his April ERA a couple more times? What if his elbow starts barking? There are no guarantees with pitchers, and until Cueto gets through the second season, there will be no finality with his decision. 

Aside from the fact that he really can’t make that decision, though, sources insist Cueto hasn’t made up his mind or even thought much about it. People familiar with his thinking continue to say the focus has been baseball all season long, from spring training through his last start. 

Cueto is said to be happy in San Francisco and he enjoys pitching in front of the crowd at AT&T Park. His biggest concern has been wins and losses, and in that respect, this has been a disappointing year for all involved. 

That record has brought the Giants to a crossroads, and this is where it gets interesting. The easy solution is to trade Cueto next month, avoid the opt-out situation entirely, and add prospects to a system lacking them. But, it’s complicated. The Giants do not intend a full teardown, and if they’re going for it again in 2018 — with their core of Buster Posey, Brandon Crawford, Madison Bumgarner, etc. locked in, that’s the plan — they’ll want that second ace at the top of the rotation. And if Bumgarner doesn’t return to form after an injury, they’ll need Cueto’s presence. 

The Giants have until July 31 to decide what to do with Cueto. He has until three days after the World Series ends to decide what to do with his contract. Here in June, by all indications, those decisions haven’t been made. 

Giants lineup: Pence hitting third, Panik back into two-hole

Giants lineup: Pence hitting third, Panik back into two-hole

Clutch, late-game hitting by Hunter Pence has propelled him to the three hole as the Giants look to bounce back vs the Braves. Bruce Bochy has released the rest of his lineup for Game 2 of the series...

San Francisco Giants:
1. Kelby Tomlinson (R) 3B
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Hunter Pence (R) RF
4. Buster Posey (R) 1B
5. Austin Slater (R) LF
6. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
7. Nick Hundley (R) C
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) CF
9. Matt Cain (R) P

Atlanta Braves:
1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
8. Johan Camargo (S) 3B
9. Jaime Garcia (L) P