Christian replaces Huff on roster and at DH


Christian replaces Huff on roster and at DH

SEATTLE Justin Christian is back in the big leagues withhis hometown team. Hes an energetic outfielder who never stops moving.

Hes the designated hitter Friday night. How is he going todeal with all that down time?

I dont remember the last time I was the DH, saidChristian, whose contract was purchased from Triple-A Fresno. Maybe it was in2010 coming off arm surgery. But itll be good. Itll give me a chance to relaxand just worry about hitting.

Christian did plenty of that against Pacific Coast Leaguepitching. He was hitting .364 with a .432 on-base percentage and a slew ofextra-base hits, including seven home runs. The right-handed hitting outfielderwas mashing against lefties and righties alike.

He was management's obvious choice to replace Aubrey Huff, who wasplaced on the 15-day disabled list with a right knee sprain. Huff sustained theinjury when he fell while trying to hop the dugout rail following the final outof Matt Cains perfect game on Friday.

Huff should be ready when his 15 days are up, Giants managerBruce Bochy said.

The timing is just awful, said Bochy, who had planned forHuff to serve as his primary DH as the Giants begin a stretch of nine games atAL parks in Seattle, Anaheim and Oakland. Hes done it and hes done well withit. Aubrey had been working very hard preparing for these nine days.

Now Bochy is left to decide on a ninth hitter, and his findings are incomplete. He said he wasntsure what he would do Saturday, but listed Hector Sanchez as one possibility.He said he gave thought to rotating his outfielders through the DH slot, butmost of them expressed a preference to play the field.

Christian almost gives the Giants a second leadoff man inthe No.9 spot. The 32-year-old grew up in San Mateo and played baseball atSkyline College. It was a dream when he received a late-season call-up lastyear, reaching the majors for the first time since 2008, when he played in 24games for the New York Yankees.

The Giants took Christian off the 40-man roster after lastseason in order to protect prospects from the Rule 5 draft. Yet he agreed toreturn on a minor league contract.

Any time you get taken off the roster or demoted, its nota good feeling, Christian said. But I love the Giants. When I had anopportunity to sign back, even though I had other opportunities, I wanted tocome back here.

I waited for an opportunity and I got a break to come uphere and Ill try to make the most of it. Its unfortunate for Aubrey, andhopefully he gets healthy.

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

SAN FRANCISCO — After the final out Monday night, a round table was carried into the corner of the home clubhouse at AT&T Park and surrounded by chairs. Eleven players were sitting, eating, drinking and laughing as Chris Stratton prepared to address the media. 

It was a rare sight for the Giants these days, a very rare sight. But then, so was Monday’s result. Stratton led the way in a 2-0 win over the Brewers that was the first home shutout of the season and motivated the joyous post-game scene. 

The shutout was just the second of the season for the staff. Ty Blach went the distance in the other one and Stratton, a fellow rookie, did the heavy lifting Monday, throwing six strong innings before giving way to the bullpen. Matt Cain pitched the seventh, Mark Melancon pitched the eighth while going back-to-back for the first time in three months, and Sam Dyson closed it out quickly. 

There’s a chance that Stratton joins that group in a few days. Johnny Cueto is scheduled to make a rehab start on Tuesday night in Sacramento and that could put him on track to return to the rotation a turn later. That would line up with Stratton’s next start, but Bruce Bochy wasn’t ready to kick the young righty out of the rotation, not after back-to-back scoreless starts against two of the better lineups in the league. A few days after striking out 10 Washington Nationals, Stratton cut through the Brewers. He has 12 2/3 scoreless innings over his past two appearances. 

“For how we’re using him, he’s really handled it well,” Bochy said. “We skipped him, moved him back three or four days, but he doesn’t let it faze him. This is an important time for these young players coming up, whether it’s (Ryder) Jones or (Jarrett) Parker or Stratton. They’re trying to show they belong in the Major Leagues.

“You’re hoping these guys show they’re ready to play here and we don’t have to do something else because we can do it internally.”

Bochy said he could use a six-man rotation when Cueto returns, or a starter could be skipped. That will all sort itself, but the manager made one thing clear. 

“We’d like to pitch him as much as we can,” Bochy said of Stratton.

That’s the same thing Bochy used to say of another right-hander, one he compared Stratton to before Monday’s game. Bochy was asked about Yusmeiro Petit, and he smiled and fondly stated, “He was so good. So good.” The Giants see some Petit in Stratton. He is unaffected by long layoffs and he’s capable of starting, relieving, or even pumping his fastball up a couple ticks for short outings. 

Petit was a mainstay in San Francisco for years, a key cog in a championship team. Bochy has been looking for that piece since Petit departed in free agency, and Stratton seems like he might be suited for the role. He will want more, of course, because all pitchers do. The Giants will give him five more weeks here to try and earn that. 

For the moment, Stratton’s focus is elsewhere. He turns 27 on Monday and the celebration started early. As Stratton answered questions, veterans at the table heckled him about striking out just one Brewer. 

“I left all the strikeouts in Washington, I guess,” Stratton said. 

Nick Hundley walked up with a TV remote and held it up between the cameras. 

“What was your thought on the punchout?” he asked. 

“I’m glad he swung,” Stratton said, smiling. “It was a ball.”

“Did you think about getting any more?” Hundley asked. 

With that, he smiled and ducked back behind the cameras to return to the celebration in the corner. A few minutes later, Stratton joined him.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017


SAN FRANCISCO — Ty Blach has been a bright spot in this losing season, giving the Giants a young, cost-controlled lefty who can potentially fill a huge role next season. Chris Stratton is trying to do the same thing from the right side. 

The 26-year-old continued his August surge, throwing six dominant innings against the Brewers in a 2-0 win that was the staff's first shutout at AT&T Park this season. 

It was the kind of night that's been so familiar over the years. The Giants had six home shutouts last season. Here are five things to know from this year's first ... 

—- The Brewers are first in the league in homers and the Nationals are third, so Stratton had his work cut out for him the last two times out. His results: 12 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s quite the statement. Stratton’s scoreless streak is the longest by a Giants rookie starter since Chris Heston threw 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in July of 2015. 

—- Matt Cain was used as a short reliever to protect a two-run lead in the seventh. He had a 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout. 

—- Mark Melancon pitched back-to-back games for the first time since May 19-20. He struck out Neil Walker and Ryan Braun in a perfect inning. 

—- Jarrett Parker reached base his first three times up. He’s hitting .385 at home this season but he’s just 4-for-35 (.114) on the road. Weird splits for a Giant slugger. 

—- Brandon Crawford is finally finding some traction. His double in the fourth was the big hit in a two-run frame that gave Stratton a lead to work with. Crawford is 7-for-17 on the home stand with three extra-base hits and four RBI.