PEORIA, Ariz. Giants manager Bruce Bochy has called thenames of hundreds of relievers over his 17-plus seasons as a major leaguemanager.
But hes never called another Bochy.
He had that chance Thursday night, when his son minorleague right-hander Brett Bochy was added to fill out the travel roster forthe night game against the Seattle Mariners at Peoria.
I didnt know he was coming over, said the manager, who ended up bypassing his son because Heath Hembree was scheduled to throw the ninth inning. Oh,its awesome. Its a special situation.
Brett Bochy was a closer who put up eye-popping numbers atthe University of Kansas before blowing out his elbow. The Giants spent alate-round draft pick on him, knowing he faced a long rehab process from TommyJohn surgery.
I know he worked hard after the Tommy John, the elderBochy said. I hope before I leave spring training, to get him in a game andcall him in there. I just told him, You cant make any comments if I take youout. Ive got to protect you like all the pitchers.
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Brett Bochy, 24, posted a 1.38 ERA in 35 games for Low-A Augusta(a 53-to-8 strikeout-to-walk ratio in 39 innings, too) and was called up as aringer for Single-A San Jose in the Cal League playoffs. Hes expected toreport to San Jose to begin this season.
Ryan Vogelsong came out of his bullpen session with noissues, Bochy said. Hes scheduled to throw live batting practice on Saturday.If all goes well, hed throw one more time to live hitters before hed get in agame.
The Giants can take it slow with Vogelsong, and perhaps evenplace him on the disabled list to carry another player for the season-openingroad trip. Because of a day off on the first trip, the club could choose tooperate without a fifth starter until its ninth game, on April 15.
One other thing: Vogelsong still has to be run through thegauntlet of PFP (pitchers fielding practice) and hitting. That last partshould come quickly for the former Kutztown University shortstop.
Brandon Belt raised his stock, and not only because he went3 for 5 in the Giants 7-5 victory to raise his average to .375. His louddouble came off a tough left-hander, Hong-Chih Kuo. Just more evidence thatBelt, no matter what uniform he wears in three weeks, should not be platooned.He should be out there every day.
Really nice game, Bochy (the manager) said. He saw the ball well. Goodtwo-strike approach.
Shall we also point out that Brandon Crawfords two-run homerun came against Kuo?
Expect the Giants to sit Crawford against some (most?)left-handers this season, as they seek to protect him from getting overexposedat the plate. But ask Crawford about that plan and he wants no part of beingprotected. Hes told me on several occasions that he likes hittingleft-handers. The only reason he hit .133 in 30 at-bats against them lastseason, he said, is that its tough to hit a left-handed curveball when youonly see one a month.
Barry Zito paid for a fastball mistake to Mike Carp, who hita two-run home run. But those were the only runs that Zito allowed in fourinnings. He had his good curve working and said he continues to feel betterfrom the stretch than the windup. He feels his changes from the stretch willmake him quicker to the plate, too, which should help him contain opposingbaserunners.
Another day, another Maysian feat by Gregor Blanco. He hit achopper over the first basemans head, and when the right fielder bobbled itfor an instant, he bokked it for second base and made it safely. He tagged andtook third base on a fly ball to center and later scored.
I asked Bochy today what was his most exciting developmentin camp. He mentioned Brian Wilson, Buster Posey and Freddy Sanchez makingprogress, but he mostly was impressed by the athletic baserunning that hesseeing in nearly every one of these games. Blanco is the leading supplier ofthat. Makes it hard for me to envision the Giants leaving him off the roster.
Bochy also mentioned that players were doing a much betterjob picking up signs. Its rather disturbing to think they didnt do a dutifuljob of that in the past, no? (Except for Juan Uribe. Famously, he never knewany of the signs).
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Regardless of what happened last year, Bochy said, We feelwe can put something on and its clicking right along.
Hembree continues to look more poised with everyouting. Hes not a candidate to make the opening-day roster, but you can bet aguy who throws strikes with a 98-mph fastball would be useful at some pointthis season.
Good command, good stuff, Bochy said. Hes looking morecomfortable. Hes a power guy and they can take a little longer to comearound.
The Giants made two more expected cuts, optioning infielderCharlie Culberson and outfielder Roger Kieschnick to Triple-A Fresno.
A lot happens in a week, huh? Since I jetted off for my typicalmid-spring break, Posey made his much-anticipated debut, he launched a home runfor his first hit, Sanchez appeared in a game for the first time since June and Wilson hit 96 mph on theradar gun for the first time in ... a long time. And from the looks of things, Jeremy Affeldt managed to avoidstabbing himself in any extremities, too. Im sure there will be plenty more to report in theweeks ahead.
Hearty thanks to Rael Enteen for doing such an enthusiastic job inmy absence. Itll be me for the duration of the spring. When do the movingtrucks arrive, again?