Giants have no alternative but to put hopes in Zito


Giants have no alternative but to put hopes in Zito

PHOENIX Barry Zito has no reason to believe Matt Cains112.5 million extension will change anything other than the right-handersbank account.But if Cain ever begins to feel pressure because of thenine-figure contract, Zito will be quick to offer some advice.
Its easier said than done, but hes just got to go out andbe himself, said Zito, who cannot so much as sneeze in a Giants uniformwithout his own 126 million contract getting a mention.No matter what anyone might say, he deserves the money,Zito continued. Its the structure of baseball that has given you the abilityto make that kind of money. Youre not a bad guy for it. There are times youllstart to listen to things and start to feel like, Oh God, wow, jeez, theyreall pissed here just because the numbers are so big. But its the structure ofthe game. The union, the players before us, they fought to give us theseopportunities.
Zito doesnt expect hell ever have to deliver that messageto Cain, though.I dont know if I can fully speak to what hell go throughbecause its a different situation, said Zito, who signed his seven-yearcontract on the open market after the 2006 season. Hes not coming to a newteam after being on the market and going through all that.
We all know what hes capable of. Weve all seen it. Andbesides, he has a such a level head about things. He can just go out and dowhat he does. He knows what he has to do to succeed. Matt is a really matureguy for how young he is.Zito still has 46 million remaining on his contract, whichwas panned from the time it was signed. After getting shelled late in thespring, the Giants convinced Zito to drop much of the momentum pitching inhis delivery, which he developed with personal guru Tom House in the offseason.
After throwing glorified batting practice late in thespring, Zito was left with one minor league intrasquad start and two bullpensessions to start over. He said he expects to be competitive when he makes hisseason debut Monday against the Colorado Rockies.The adjustment I made was positive, Zito said. Imthrowing more strikes and I have a better feeling of repeatability. My arm iscatching up and everything is feeling good coming out.
Zito said he hasnt ditched all the work he did with House.Its still incorporating some momentum down the mound, butits just giving myself a little more time before I do it, Zito said. Imgiving myself a little more time and then going forward, but still withmomentum.
I feel good man. Im excited to get out there and compete.I feel its time to just get out there and do the best I can.Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he plans to start backupcatcher Hector Sanchez with Zito as Buster Posey gets a full day off. Bochyplans to use Sanchez as Zitos personal catcher.
Buster will need his days and ideally, youd like to keepHector with one pitcher so they get used to each other, Bochy said. Thatwont always be the case. Youll have day games after night games when youllneed to go another way.The Giants arent prepared to go separate ways with Zito anytime soon, given the money owed to him. Whenever the club eats the remainder ofhis contract, its a decision that will be made far above GM Brian Sabeanshead.But for now, the Giants have few alternatives. Left-handerEric Surkamp, who was expected to be the first line of defense for therotation, was just cleared to begin playing catch Monday and wont be ready toappear in a game for at least a month.Surkamp received clearance to throw after Dr. Ken Akizukiexamined him Sunday. He said he probably wont pitch off a mound for at leasttwo weeks, and then hell have to face hitters a few times before being readyfor game action. He estimated that entire process would take at least a month.He said his sprained left elbow is much better aftercompleting his round of anti-inflammatory medication.Everything feels good so far, so Im encouraged, Surkampsaid.

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' 50th loss of the season


SAN FRANCISCO — The promotion of an intriguing prospect can bring a certain buzz to the ballpark. It didn’t last long. 

The debut of Ryder Jones came in the latest flat performance from the Giants, who collapsed late and fell 5-2 to the Mets. The loss was their 50th of the season. They did not lose their 50th game last season until August 12. 

With the score tied in the eighth, Curtis Granderson crushed a leadoff triple into the alley. Sam Dyson walked the next batter and then whiffed Yoenis Cespedes, but Jay Bruce greeted Steven Okert with an RBI single to right. It kept going poorly from there. 

Here are five things to know from a cool day by the water … 

—- Jones grounded out to second in his first at-bat and then flied out to center, grounded out to first, and grounded out to second. He had one chance in the field, starting a double play that ended the second inning.  

—- Johnny Cueto seems to have turned a corner. Over his past two starts, he has allowed just three earned runs over 14 innings. Whether they trade him or not, the Giants certainly could use a nice little hot streak for the next six weeks. 

—- A few seconds after Bruce Bochy shook Cueto’s hand, Brandon Belt got him off the hook for a loss. He hit the first pitch of the bottom of the seventh into the seats in left-center, tying the game. The homer was Belt’s 14th. He’s on pace for 29. 

—- The Mets got eight one-run innings out of Jacob deGrom, who is quietly the most reliable of a star-studded rotation. He struck out seven and gave up just four hits. 

—- If Madison Bumgarner wants another Silver Slugger Award, he’ll have to chase down deGrom, who hit a homer in his last start. His single in the third was his 10th hit, and he finished the day with a .294 average.