EXTRA BAGGS: Otero has a fan in Romo


EXTRA BAGGS: Otero has a fan in Romo

PHOENIX -- Sergio Romo struck out 70 batters and walked fivelast season. One of those walks was intentional. So when it comes to throwingstrikes, youd figure he would be tough to impress.

But Romo loves everything about Dan Otero. The other day,Romo was gushing over the fact that Otero went through his first pro seasonwithout issuing a single walk.

Eh, it was short-season ball, said Otero, who pitched in22 games with zero walks for Salem-Keizer in 2007.

I dont care where you are, Romo said. Thats amazing.

No debating that, I thought. Even if you paint like Seurat,you still have to pitch around a hitter from time to time. Or youll be askedto walk someone intentionally.

So what happened in Oteros major league debut Saturday? Hewas asked to walk someone intentionally.

Figures, right? Romo said.

Oteros debut was no mop-up appearance. He entered in thefifth inning of a competitive, 4-2 game. He had to face Justin Upton, MiguelMontero and Chris Young the heart of Arizonas order.

He started out impressive enough, striking out Upton onthree pitches, the last one freezing him.

Heater, heater, heater thank you! was how Romo describedit.

But Otero was not perfect. Montero whistled a single off Oteros leg andYoung doubled him in. Otero came back to strike out Paul Goldschmidt, and afterthe intentional walk (to Jason Kubel), shortstop Brandon Crawford made a niftyplay up the middle on John McDonald.

Then Otero went back out for a scoreless sixth.

That run in the fifth ended up being Arizona's margin of victory, but Giants manager Bruce Bochy felt good about what Otero accomplished in his debut. And he had no hesitation about putting the 27-year-old Duke graduate in a big-time situation.

This spring he showed great poise out there, Bochy said. Hes got great confidence. Thats why he made the club.

Otero received a game-used ball from Ryan Vogelsong. He leftwith one other souvenir, colored black and blue.

I threw strikes and took a ball off my calf, Otero said.So hey, great.

Otero is wearing No.87. Ill have to ask Bochy if he'll bring himin as a slot receiver on third-down situations.

Turns out that Otero has to wear his spring training numberuntil the league approves a change. The Giants eventually plan to give himNo.37, which was Chris Stewarts old number.

I cant see the back of my jersey, so Im not too concernedabout it, Otero said.

The Giants must send back a pitcher in another week whenVogelsong is ready to come off the DL. Barring an injury, it figures to beOtero. But for now, hes enjoying his chance.

Dan Runzler told me he is feeling good about his progress from hisstrained lat muscle in his upper back, which he aggravated in early March.

Runzler said he is back to throwing bullpens with no issues.One or two more sessions and hell face hitters in extended spring.

Ill see how my arm bounces back from that, and hopefullyby the end of the month, I can start a rehab assignment, said Runzler, whoexpects to get an appearance or two at Single-A San Jose before graduating toTriple-A Fresno.

If it comes down to missing a month, thats not that bad,Runzler said.

Buster Poseys 14-game hitting streak is no more. Blame mefor mentioning it to him before the game, if you must.

Now Ill go find a phone number for Magglio Ordonez, who isin semi-retirement and sitting on his couch, and ask him if he knows hes gotan 18-game streak going.

In case you missed it Friday, the Giants announced that theyhave canceled Angel Villalonas option to Single-A San Jose and placed him onthe restricted list again.

Since Villalona has been unable to acquire a visa yet, weare cancelling his option to San Jose, Giants VP Bobby Evans said via textmessage. He has been placed on the major league restricted list while we awaitfurther updates on his visa status. He will continue his baseball work at ourcomplex in the (Dominican Republic).

The Giants roster is officially at 39 now, meaning theyhave a vacancy if they need to purchase infielder Joaquin Arias contract or addanother pitcher (Yusmeiro Petit, for example) who isnt on the 40-man.

Everyone has their pet peeves. One of mine is when a batterdraws a walk and an announcer says, That was a good at-bat.

Well, no. Technically, it was a plate appearance, not anat-bat.

Brandon Belt had a good plate appearance in the seventhinning, when he drew a leadoff walk. But so far, the hard contact has eludedhim and hes getting pitched to the scouting reports: fastballs in and offspeedaway.

Its up to him to make an adjustment. Toward the end of thespring, he said he wanted the opportunity to make those adjustments in the bigleagues. Hes getting that chance now.

Through two games, Belt has four strikeouts and one hit in eight at-bats.

Brandon Crawford doesnt have a hit in two games, which isnot cause for alarm. The only concern, really, is if he gets concerned andstarts pressing. You also wonder if his sprained thumb is bothering him at theplate.

Crawford did make one hard out to center field, though.

Lets see what happens in the series finale against JoshCollmenter. Thats quite a dip from the likes of Ian Kennedy and Daniel Hudson.

Meanwhile the Giants send Matt Cain to the mound. Under anycircumstances, theyll feel good about doing that.

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

'The Kid' Arroyo continues wildly impressive first week with Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — In a quiet moment in the dugout Friday, manager Bruce Bochy tried to figure out a nickname for his new budding star. During a week where Christian Arroyo has made the game look so easy, this has turned out to be the most difficult part. 

Bochy briefly settled on “Yo” before that was scuttled because the team’s video coordinator is Yo Miyamoto. Joe Panik said some players have tried C.A. or YoYo, but admitted that neither is all that good. The team’s Twitter account spent a few days trying to make Boss Baby a thing, but Arroyo wasn’t thrilled with that one and the experiment appears to be over. In a back room of the clubhouse, there’s a printout showing Arroyo and Buzz from “Home Alone,” but that comparison is much better made with Atlanta’s Freddie Freeman. 

Perhaps the answer is as simple as the path Arroyo’s bat takes to a fastball. As he watched Arroyo field grounders during batting practice, Dick Tidrow was asked about the 21-year-old. Tidrow, the team’s senior VP of player personnel, has seen and worked with Arroyo since he was drafted. 

“We always just called him The Kid,” Tidrow said. “He would turn around when I called him Kid.”

The Kid is growing up quickly. Arroyo’s second homer of the week was the game-winner Friday, an eighth-inning blast that put a lead in Mark Melancon’s hands. The new closer made sure the new third baseman’s homer didn’t go to waste, clinching a 4-3 win that got the Giants out of the National League West’s cellar. 

The homer might have surprised Arroyo as much as anyone. He came here with a reputation as a mature and talented hitter, but power is not his calling card. 

“I’m not trying to hit a homer there,” he said. “Get the head out, see a pitch over the plate, barrel something, just keep the line moving. I got a good pitch, elevated it, and fortunately it went out.”

Arroyo already speaks like a hitting coach, but he is not afraid to admit that there are things he doesn’t know. It’s easy to get film on opposing starters, but there’s little a rookie can do to prepare for late-inning pitching changes. Arroyo consulted Buster Posey and Conor Gillaspie before facing Ryan Buchter, who has been in the division for two years. Gillaspie told him Buchter’s fastball has some late life and gets on a hitter. 

“I wanted to see it and the first pitch was a little low so I got a good read on them,” Arroyo said. 

The second one was right at the belt and Arroyo pulled it down the line for his second big league homer. He had just three last year in Double-A, but the Giants felt the 36 doubles showed that power was on the way. 

“He’s got pop,” Bochy said. “He’s not a guy trying to hit homers. He tries to put a good swing on it. But he drives balls and you saw it tonight. We see him more as a gap guy, but he’ll get more power as he gets older. We’re not asking him to hit homers, trust me, but it’s good to see him letting it go.”

The homer secured a win on a night when a lot went right. Jeff Samardzija was sharp, paying for one pitch to Ryan Schimpf that left the park but otherwise pitching seven strong. Panik and Brandon Belt ignited the offense early and Michael Morse came through with a game-tying sacrifice fly in the fifth. Derek Law and Mark Melancon closed it out, with Melancon getting help from Panik, who made a spectacular tumbling catch on a flare to shallow right-center. It was a big first out given that Melancon was pitching for the third straight day. 

“It was going to be in no man’s land,” Panik said. “You give it everything you’ve got. Fortunately the ball stayed in the glove.”

When it was over, the youngest Giant was in for another round of interviews to cap a hectic week. On Monday he made his debut and on Tuesday he picked up his first hit. Wednesday brought the first homer and Thursday was the first multi-hit game. What will the weekend include? Maybe a real nickname? 

For now, the Giants are fine with leaning on The Kid, because many of them didn’t even know how young the star of the week was until he was a couple of days into his big league career.

“I was thinking he was 23 or 24,” Samardzija said. “This has been really impressive.”

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres

Instant Replay: Arroyo's late-game heroics lifts Giants past Padres


SAN FRANCISCO — On Monday, Christian Arroyo made his MLB debut. Tuesday brought his first hit and on Wednesday it was the first homer. Thursday’s game was his first multi-hit game as a big leaguer. What was in store Friday? The best swing yet.

Arroyo hit a go-ahead shot to left while leading off the eighth, giving the Giants a 4-3 win in their series opener with the Padres. The player coaches simply call “The Kid” has two homers in his first five games, and both have come in huge spots. Friday’s sent another jolt through AT&T Park and got a lead to Mark Melancon, who closed out the Padres. 

For four innings, a long-haired right-hander was no-hitting the Padres. Jeff Samardzija was sharp early and he got a nice cushion in the first. Joe Panik and Brandon Belt led off with singles and Panik scored on Erick Aybar’s two-out error. A Conor Gillaspie knock made it 2-0. 

The first hit allowed by Samardzija was a painful one. He plunked Yangervis Solarte to open the fifth and Ryan Schimpf hit a long dinger to dead center to tie the game. Cory Spangenberg followed with a single to left that skipped under Belt’s glove. Spangenberg went to third on the play and scored on a bloop. 

Belt made up for the play in the bottom of the inning, beating the outfield shift with a double and scoring on Mike Morse’s sacrifice fly to right two batters later. Samardzija ran into trouble in the seventh, but with two in scoring position and one out, he got a strikeout and a grounder to third. The Giants put the go-ahead run on second in their half, but Hunter Pence and Morse struck out. 

Starting pitching report: Samardzija has allowed six homers. He’s tied for fourth in the NL with a handful of players, including Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore. 

Bullpen report: Melancon has five straight saves since blowing his first opportunity as a Giant. 

At the plate: Belt reached base four times. His on-base percentage is sitting at a cool .390. 

In the field: Panik made a brilliant diving catch in center for the first out of the ninth. 

Attendance: The Giants announced a sellout crowd. One of the fans looked just like Samardzija, possibly on purpose. 

Up next: Matt Cain has a 2.42 ERA but he left his last start with a tight hamstring. He’ll face Jhoulys Chacin (2-3, 5.90).