Giants have no alternative but to put hopes in Zito

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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.

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the first time, Gorkys Hernandez did not go back to Venezuela in the offseason to play winter ball. He's hoping that leads to another first. 

Hernandez has never made an opening day roster, but after breaking into the Giants’ outfield rotation last season, he entered the winter in a decent shot. To bolster his case, Hernandez stayed in Scottsdale over the offseason to work out at the minor league facility. The added strength didn’t lead to any notable results over the first month of games, but Hernandez broke through Monday with three doubles in the final home game of the spring.

“Sometimes (slumps) happen and sometimes you’re late (on pitches) and you don’t feel comfortable at the plate, but now I feel different. I feel better,” Hernandez said. “I’m recognizing pitches and trying to keep it simple and not do too much.”

The coaching staff has asked several players to head down to the minor league facility late in the spring and get additional at-bats, and Hernandez took Bruce Bochy up on the offer. He twice played in minor league games, and on Sunday he rotated into different games so he could get six at-bats. Hernandez said that helped him find his timing. 

“Without question, it helped his timing,” Bochy said. “He was off. He was getting out front, his timing was off. I think the at-bats he got paid off.”

The three-double day was perfectly timed. Hernandez entered with a .159 average and Justin Ruggiano, the other option as a backup center fielder, had started to put together better at-bats. Monday’s game was a reminder in more ways than one. Hernandez showed off the type of speed the Giants won’t have on the bench if Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, and he played all three outfield positions, switching from left to right to center. 

The role in play is one Gregor Blanco had for five seasons. The Giants would like Hernandez to be their defensive whiz at every outfield spot, and they’re light on true center fielders. If the Giants put Hernandez on the roster this week as expected, he’ll be ready to try and be the new Blanco. 

“If they give me that role, I’ll try to do the same thing,” he said. “Or better.”

THE ACE: Madison Bumgarner is going to Madison Bumgarner. He threw seven sharp innings Monday, lowering his spring ERA to 2.52. In 25 innings, he has allowed just 17 hits and struck out 23. Bochy appreciated Bumgarner’s intensity Monday against a Reds team that was filled with minor leaguers. 

“That’s what makes him so good,” Bochy said. “He takes every outing seriously. His preparation doesn’t waver.”

Bumgarner even added a single, and he liked that it came on a breaking ball. He’s worked on getting better at hitting those pitches, which he’s seeing more and more. 

“I feel I’m as ready as I can be to start the season,” Bumgarner said. 

His next pitch will be thrown Sunday at Chase Field. 

GAME RECAP: The Giants blasted poor Reds starter Cody Reed, hanging 10 runs on his line in 3 2/3 innings. Denard Span had two hits and Aaron Hill had three, driving in three runs. Bochy went with an interesting lineup, leading off with Span, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. He said he likes Crawford in that five-spot. He also plans to hit the pitcher eighth on occasion.

TRAINER’S ROOM: Joe Panik was drilled by a fastball in the lower back and he came out of the game as a precaution. Panik has a nasty welt, so he’s in for a night of ice, but there are no concerns. 

QUOTABLE: Posey turned 30 today. As he walked out to stretch, Bumgarner was asked if he was giving Posey a hard time. “No, he’s been 30 for the last seven years,” Bumgarner said.