Giants closer Melancon to join Team USA for WBC semifinal

Giants closer Melancon to join Team USA for WBC semifinal

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants waited too long to add closer Mark Melancon. Team USA isn't making the same mistake.

Melancon will join teammates Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford at Dodger Stadium this week for the final two games of the World Baseball Classic. The first-year Giant was added to the roster after the first round, and he said that was done with the understanding he would join for the semifinals if Team USA reached that point.

"I've watched a lot. I've enjoyed it. Knowing most of the guys in the games, it's been fun to watch the country pride that they have," Melancon said. "To me, some of it is ridiculous, but when you know them and understand their background and how big a deal culturally it is, you end up starting to get on board with the way they go about things." 

Melancon was asked to be part of the original roster, but he wanted to get comfortable with his new team. In eight spring innings, he hasn't allowed a run. He said he has started to think about how exciting it might be to close out a title run for his country, joking that he'll unbutton his shirt and flash the bow-and-arrow celebration. 

Either way, the Giants were losing a star pitcher after Saturday's game, a 6-3 win for the United States. If the Dominican Republic had won, Johnny Cueto would have pitched the semifinal game Tuesday night. Cueto was watching video of Japan earlier in the week and was excited to use his quick-pitches and shimmies to disrupt high leg kicks. When he walked into the clubhouse Sunday morning, Cueto was greeted with a "USA! USA!" chant. He smiled and laughed. 

"This is a game, and you have to know how to win and lose," he said. "I know some fans and players felt I didn't want to go but they know why I couldn't."

Cueto was supposed to be part of the Dominican team throughout the tournament, but he was three weeks late to camp while taking care of his ill father. He said he took some heat back home, and he had to block a few people on Twitter and Instagram because he was being called a traitor. 

"There was a lot of talk back home that I didn't want to play because I'm making too much money," he said. "They're saying that when other players like (Robinson) Cano who are making more than that are participating. Everyone should know that I didn't go because I wasn't ready. My arm wasn't ready. I truly wanted to represent my country."

 

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Giants lineup: Nunez scratched, Williamson in left field

Bruce Bochy and Joe Maddon issued their lineups for today's series finale in Chicago:

Giants (20-28)
1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Joe Panik (L) 2B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Mac Williamson (R) LF
8. Christian Arroyo (R) 3B
9. Jeff Samardzija (R) P (1-5, 4.57 ERA)

Cubs (24-21)
1. Ben Zobrist (S) 2B
2. Kyle Schwarber (L) LF
3. Kris Bryant (R) 3B
4. Anthony Rizzo (L) 1B
5. Ian Happ (S) CF
6. Jason Heyward (L) RF
7. Miguel Montero (L) C
8. Javier Baez (R) SS
9. Eddie Butler (R) P (1-0, 2.00 ERA)

Giants notes: Growing group of infielders trying to transition to outfield

Giants notes: Growing group of infielders trying to transition to outfield

CHICAGO — It was easy for Giants fans to dream on Wednesday morning when power-hitting prospect Chris Shaw was bumped up to Triple-A. General manager Bobby Evans pumped the brakes a bit in the afternoon. The Giants do not expect Shaw to come up this year, even as a September call-up.

Shaw does, however, join a growing group of infielders trying to transition in Richmond. The closest to the big leagues right now is occasional big leaguer Kelby Tomlinson, who started in center field for the fourth time in five games. Could Tomlinson soon be back as a super-utility player, maybe giving the Giants some coverage in case they part ways with Gorkys Hernandez?

“Not ideally yet,” Evans said. “You’d like for him to get more time out there.”

[PAVLOVIC: Giants promote power-hitting outfield prospect to Triple-A]

Evans said the reports on Tomlinson are that he’s athletic in center and gets good reads. He’s not quite considered a big league option yet, but that’ll be a big part of his future. Tomlinson was joined in the outfield Wednesday by Austin Slater, who will start adding some reps at first with Chris Marrero now in Japan. Slater sounds like he's the next man up at some point. 

Ryder Jones and Jae-Gyun Hwang will also play more first. Jones has played quite a bit of left this season and Evans said the reports on him out there have been good. Hwang will be back in the headlines one way or the other at some point soon. He’s batting .280 with a .298 on-base percentage and three homers, which doesn’t scream promotion. But Hwang does have an opt-out on July 1, so something might have to be done. 

--- Matt Moore gave up two homers to Anthony Rizzo in a 5-4 loss to the Cubs, but this still continued his push in the right direction. In six innings, he gave up four runs, three earned. Not great, but better than it was in April. Moore has three straight quality starts. 

“Earlier in the year there were a couple of gaps in games where I wasn’t competitive,” he said. “I do think the last two or three weeks, I’ve gotten comfortable with the way the ball is coming out.”

--- Eduardo Nuñez extended his hitting streak to a career-high 11 games, but he came up lame on the play. Nuñez felt tightness near his left knee, right at the bottom of his hamstring. He played the rest of the game, but couldn’t go full speed. He’s confident he’ll be fine. 

--- Denard Span’s thumb is apparently 100 percent, or pretty close. He smacked a long homer, his third in his last 10 games. 

--- Conor Gillaspie (back) and Aaron Hill (forearm) will return on the homestand, possibly as soon as Friday against the Braves. Hunter Pence is further away. Bochy said he’ll need a quick rehab assignment, so it’s probably more likely he’s back the next Friday in Philadelphia. 

--- Bochy said Johnny Cueto was checked a couple of days before his Tuesday start and the trainers will do the same thing before his next start. Cueto is dealing with two blisters, but the Giants are not considering shutting him down. 

“He finds a way to get out there and pitch,” Bochy said. “It’s not a case where we’re pushing it. He wants to pitch.”

Under different circumstances, maybe the Giants would shut Cueto down for a couple of weeks to let these blisters pass. But they can’t afford to lose a second ace, and Cueto doesn’t want to miss any time. Bochy said he hasn’t been told this is something that will bother Cueto all year.