EXTRA BAGGS: Wilson's new ink -- Johnny Cash


EXTRA BAGGS: Wilson's new ink -- Johnny Cash

DENVER Brian Wilson got a new tattoo over the winter.

You know that famous photo of Johnny Cash? The one takenduring a sound check at Folsom Prison? The one where hes sending a special,one-fingered message to the photographer?

Yep. Its on Wilsons calf. In remarkable detail, too.

So Wilson wont need a knee-jerk response whenever hesasked if hes healthy. He can just point to his calf. Message received.

Wilson insisted during the spring that hes fine. Heinsisted his back and hip are fine. His elbow, too. But he knows there will bedoubts among fans and the media. He is adamant that he will answer all thequestions through his performance.

But rough save conversions like his ninth-inning escapadeThursday wont make the questions go away. Wilson only cracked 90 mph a fewtimes and looked totally out of sorts on a few pitches after what the Giantsdescribed as a tweaked left ankle on a delivery to Tyler Colvin.

Some of that velocity drop can be explained by the fact thatWilson was pitching on a second consecutive day something he did just once inthe spring. Wilson is known to throw all sliders or all cutters in an outing,just for kicks. He did hit 94 mph when he needed to hump up and blow a pitchpast Wilin Rosario, which he did while striking him out.

Can Wilson be the elite force the Giants have relied upon inthe ninth inning? Well, Im not sure hell be as durable. He wont be availablein the home opener Friday because Bruce Bochy doesnt want to use him on athird consecutive day. Everyones durability is questioned over a long season.Wilson will be tested, too.

But there is something about him, however he might be compromised,that keeps him successful in that role. And he does tend to get lucky when hemost needs it. When second baseman Emmanuel Burriss snared Todd Heltonsbases-loaded line drive, it reminded me of the Carlos Ruiz liner from theclinching, Game 6 victory in the 2010 NLCS.

Given what weve seen, Id say sure. Theres every reason tobe a bit skittish about Brian Wilson. But dont be surprised if he finds a wayto get the job done. Or if he points to his new tattoo when you ask him aquestion.

Bochy liked the way Buster Posey came through his firststart since he was diagnosed with shingles. It likely will take a few days(maybe weeks) before Poseys energy level is back to 100 percent. But hesplayable, and hell start behind the plate for Fridays home opener.

I had no concerns, Bochy said. He caught very well. Hellbe back in there tomorrow.

Javier Lopez has stranded five runners in his threeappearances, including two when he got Carlos Gonzalez to hit a broken-batground out in the eighth. Lopez is such a weapon in that bullpen, Bochy said,and nobody knows it better than him.

Madison Bumgarners 117 pitches were the fourth most hesthrown in a start in his career. Im not sure thats a good idea for a22-year-old making his second start of the season. But dont put all the blameon Bochy. He couldnt have foreseen Colvin working Bumgarner for a13-pitch at-bat to end the leftys day.

For a pitcher, Bumgarner is pretty darn good at turning arounda quality fastball. He was 0 for 3 with two strikeouts against Jamie Moyer, butwhen he batted against hard-throwing lefty Rex Brothers in the eighth,Bumgarner took him deep. Almost deep enough. His fly ball was caught on thetrack in dead center.

Brothers might be one of the nastiest relievers in the NL.Bumgarner might have preferred facing him to Moyer.

That was pretty cool getting to throw against him, saidBumgarner, of the man who had over 100 big league starts before he was born. Ican see why hes successful. Thats tough to hit.

The Giants averaged 5.5 runs on the road trip, but the signs are more encouraging than that. It seems hitters are working deeper counts and drawing walks, and yes, that includes Aubrey Huff. Brandon Crawford is showing he can hit lefties. Nate Schierholtz gets a start and pops two home runs. And Melky Cabrera looks like he'll make an everyday impact. He hit safely in all six games on the trip, getting multiple hits in four of them. (No, the Giants do not miss Jonathan Sanchez.)

Now they just need to get their leadoff man on base. If Angel Pagan can't do it, Gregor Blanco will get a chance.

As I await my flight out of Denver, I see that snow is inthe forecast for this weekend. Thank you, baseball and weather gods!

Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate


Familiar faces trying to find success, health with Giants' Triple-A affiliate

SACRAMENTO -- A young man named Clayton Blackburn walked into the home clubhouse at Raley Field on Tuesday decked out in Round Rock gear. 

"You're here for my start?" he said, smiling.

Sorry, Clayton, I was on Panda Watch for two days. But it was fun watching Blackburn, DFA’d in a weird move earlier this year, face former teammates. Blackburn hasn't had a great season with Texas, but he is still just 24 and he has gotten into terrific shape. Given what happened during his call-up last year, you should root for him to get a second chance. 

Blackburn gave up three runs over six innings against his former team. The River Cats won on Jarrett Parker’s walk-off homer to dead center with two outs in the ninth. Parker was one of many familiar faces in the lineup Tuesday. Here are some thoughts on guys you know, and guys you will: 

--- Trevor Brown is the backup catcher in Sacramento, which is certainly a fall from his run as Buster Posey's backup. Brown is batting .168 in what has been a very frustrating season for him. The groin injury that slowed him early lingered, he had a concussion, and he hasn't been able to find any BABIP luck. This year seems a lost one for a guy who was a big part of 2016. I’m still intrigued by his versatility.

--- Chris Shaw is the latest podcast guest. You can stream it here. We talked about his power, his move to left, thinking he was a Ray, and more. I didn't see many at-bats, but I saw enough in left field to be confident he'll be fine out there. 

--- Parker started in center field and made a nice running catch at the wall. He wouldn't hold up as a big league center fielder, but perhaps the Giants should throw him out there a few times down the stretch to see if he can be a backup option next season. Parker said he finally found his swing over the past few games. His rehab assignment ends in about a week, and he’s expected back in San Francisco. 

--- Reyes Moronta, who spent a day in the majors in May, was promoted to Triple-A. In his first inning, Drew Stubbs took him deep. I found that quirky. It's been a long season with far too many transactions. 

--- If Steven Duggar would stay healthy, he would probably make it up to SF in September. Unfortunately, his hamstring was tight again this week, keeping him out of San Jose’s lineup for a few days. Speaking of health: Tyler Beede’s groin injury will keep him out longer than just the standard DL time … Melvin Upton Jr. is still in Sacramento rehabbing a shoulder injury, but he’s not throwing yet so it’s hard to picture him making any noise before September call-up time …Christian Arroyo is in Arizona rehabbing from hand surgery. 

--- Derek Law was smiling because Derek Law is always smiling. He has a 4.32 ERA but said he feels much better than those results. “My slider is back,” Law said. He should be, too, when the Giants expand their roster. There are some other interesting relievers in Sacramento. A first baseman told me opposing hitters grumble about facing D.J. Snelten (1.84 ERA) and Tyler Rogers has a 1.94 ERA as a dirt-scraping right-hander. 

--- A teammate predicted Carlos Moncrief would hit .270 in the big leagues if called up, and he ended up getting that call Wednesday morning. Moncrief is a fun clubhouse addition. He gave Sandoval some good-natured heckling for talking to reporters after going 1 for 4. 

--- The Giants have had a lot of veterans visit San Jose this season. They all bought the postgame spread, but word around the block is that Madison Bumgarner provided the best meal. He had steak and lobster delivered to San Jose Muni. 

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

Eduardo Nunez 'forever grateful' for his time spent with the Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Eduardo Nuñez left San Francisco in a strange way. The third baseman was traded in the middle of Tuesday night’s game and mostly said his goodbyes in a stairwell behind the home dugout at AT&T Park. Before joining the Red Sox, Nuñez took to his social media pages to send a message to the Giants and their fans. 

On Twitter, Nuñez thanked the organization for “the great opportunity and experiences learned” and wished the team the best of luck. His Instagram message was a bit longer. 

“I will be forever grateful to have had the opportunity to be a part of this amazing team,” Nuñez wrote. “I value the experiences learned during my time here and I will miss my teammates, the fans, and the beautiful city of San Francisco very much. Best wishes to the Giants organization during the rest of this season. God Bless.”

Nuñez is expected to join the Red Sox on Friday. Boston’s manager, John Farrell, told reporters that his new infielder will get “a high number of at-bats” despite the presence of top prospect Rafael Devers. 

"This is someone who's swinging the bat very well right now,” Farrell said, according to "A high energy player that can run the bases well. He’s got really good line drive power so his .300-plus batting average to mix into this lineup is a good addition."