Giants feel fortunate to break camp mostly intact

Giants feel fortunate to break camp mostly intact
March 26, 2014, 5:30 pm
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I’ve said it: Last year we had a couple issues with starters getting hurt, but we’ve been very fortunate in that regard over the years.
Bruce Bochy

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Giants tidied up their Cactus League affairs with gusto Wednesday afternoon.

Minor leaguer Jarrett Parker hit a tying, towering grand slam over the 30-foot batter’s eye in dead center, a shot that must’ve traveled 500 feet. Then Hector Sanchez put one into the generous jet stream for a walk-off, two-run homer.

Just like that, the Giants were gone with the wind.

[RELATED: Affeldt has strained knee ligament, will start season on DL]

They knocked wood the entire way up the air stairs. This is a spring when the Arizona Diamondbacks lost ace Patrick Corbin to Tommy John surgery and won't have Bronson Arroyo when the bell rings because of a bad back. The Padres’ Josh Johnson is headed to the DL with a flexor tendon and the Rockies’ Jhoulys Chacin will be out till May, at least, with a tender shoulder.

Now there's late word that Clayton Kershaw had an MRI on his left upper back and won't pitch the Dodgers' Stateside opener Sunday at San Diego. Hoo boy.

Rotation health has become an issue for every NL West team except the Giants, whose starting five emerged with nothing more than a singed eyebrow or two.

It wasn’t just the pitchers in the NL West that disappeared down uncovered sewer grates. The A’s, Braves and Rangers suffered major and multiple dents to their starting five.

“I hate even talking about it,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I’ve said it: Last year we had a couple issues with starters getting hurt, but we’ve been very fortunate in that regard over the years.”

Thanks to those wind-aided homers (although Parker’s would’ve reached low-grade orbit even with flags limp), the Giants came back from a six-run deficit to claim an 8-6 victory over the Colorado Rockies and finish the Arizona portion of their spring with a 17-10-1 record.

Their pitchers got knocked around a bit over these last couple weeks. Tim Lincecum finished with a 6.52 ERA, and two other starters -- Ryan Vogelsong (9.00 ERA) and Matt Cain (7.47 ERA) – were worse. Cain wasn’t sharp in his final tuneup – Bochy said he had trouble gripping the ball in dry, windy conditions – and allowed six runs on nine hits and three walks in five innings. He only struck out one.

But Cain wasn’t concerned about the results. It’s better than awaiting MRI results, after all.

“Arm strength was fine,” he said. “The biggest thing is getting your work in and the results you don’t worry too much about.”

The Giants don’t emerge from Arizona totally intact, though. Second baseman Marco Scutaro is going for another round of diagnostics Thursday in an effort to pinpoint the nerve that is causing chronic pain in his back and hip. He’ll almost certainly start the season on the disabled list.

[RELATED: Scutaro assuming he'll start season on DL]

Bochy called the loss of Scutaro “pretty major,” and clearly there is not much optimism over his situation.

“I don’t know,” said Bochy, asked when Scutaro might be able to play. “We don’t know. The doctors don’t know right now.”

Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt stayed behind as well, the result of a strained medial collateral ligament in his right knee. He’ll start the season on the DL and miss at least 10 days.

At least outfielders Angel Pagan (back) and Michael Morse (calf) appear to be past their nagging injuries for now. Buster Posey (left hamstring) and Pablo Sandoval (abrasion on his right hand) sat out Wednesday’s final exhibition game, but they’re expected to suit up Thursday.

“Overall, we came out of it pretty good,” Bochy said. “Morse and Pagan are coming around at the right time.”

The wind won’t always be at their backs. But the timing was good enough as they scrambled out of the desert.

Giants notes: Jarrett Parker’s grand slam came on the first pitch he saw in the eighth inning. “That kid is some kind of strong,” said Bruce Bochy, adding that the outfielder has hit some tape measure shots in minor league camp. Hector Sanchez’s walk-off shot was an apparent flare to right field off Rockies lefty Rex Brothers. … In addition to pitchers Heath Hembree, Erik Cordier and Dan Runzler, the Giants brought two extra position players north for the Bay Bridge exhibitions: catcher Guillermo Quiroz and infielder Chris Dominguez. … Shortstop Brandon Crawford made a diving stop and a glove flip from his stomach to second baseman Ehire Adrianza, who barehanded it. If Crawford and Adrianza get to play together often on the middle infield, it’ll be some kind of show. … The Rockies’ Jorge De La Rosa looked tremendous while holding the Giants to three hits and striking out seven in six shutout innings. … Santiago Casilla pitched a much-needed shutout inning, reducing his spring ERA to 7.04. … Hunter Pence started the Giants’ comeback with a two-run homer in the seventh.