Giants notes: Starters shine but Hembree has day to forget

Giants notes: Starters shine but Hembree has day to forget
February 28, 2014, 4:30 pm
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Heath Hembree’s ninth inning went single, balk, error (on the pitcher), and then a wild pitch to send in the winning run. (USATSI)

Jeremy Affeldt won’t make his spring debut for a few more days as he continues to work on his leg strengthening following groin surgery. (USATSI)

Programming note: Giants Insider Andrew Baggarly is in Arizona; check back for his coverage throughout spring training and watch SportsNet Central nightly at 6 and 10:30 p.m. for all the day’s MLB news.

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Giants are loading their chips behind their starting pitchers this season,  so it was a good sign Friday when they received a total of six scoreless innings from three pitchers at or near the top of the rotation depth chart.

Madison Bumgarner and Ryan Vogelsong each threw two innings in a 4-3 exhibition win over the Brewers at Scottsdale Stadium. And lefty Edwin Escobar, expected to be the first line of defense at Triple-A Fresno, went six up, six down in a 7-6 loss to the A’s at Phoenix Muni.

[RELATED: Giants pitchers look to avoid last season's embarrassment]

It got a little messy at the end of both games, though. George Kontos got hit hard while allowing two runs in the ninth before recording the save. And over in Phoenix, Heath Hembree pretty much hit for the cycle of awful. 

Entering a tie game in the ninth, Hembree’s inning went single, balk, error (on the pitcher), and then a wild pitch to send in the winning run.

If that isn’t a forgettable day, I’m not sure what is.

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It was another good day for Ehire Adrianza, who hit a triple and continues to look stronger and more confident from both sides of the plate. Brandon Belt, who loves hitting in Arizona, had two hits including an RBI double. Gary Brown had two hits as well. And Brandon Crawford hit a two-run triple off Jarrod Parker, who could start on opening day for the A’s.

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Jeremy Affeldt won’t make his spring debut for a few more days as he continues to work on his leg strengthening following groin surgery in September.

 

“I’m on the old man program,” said Affeldt, trying to keep a straight face while pointing out that Mariano Rivera usually didn’t appear in games till mid-March.

[RELATED: Radar gun readings don't discourage Vogelsong]

Javier Lopez was supposed to appear Wednesday but had a stomach bug. We should see him on the mound soon.

It’s anyone’s guess when Sandy Rosario can get back on a mound, though. His leg weakness has spread to his feet and the Giants are planning to send him to a specialist. Seriously, Rosario can barely walk.

As for Santiago Casilla, he faced hitters on a back field and should be ready to appear in a game soon. Ditto for Mike Kickham, who had been set back by a blister issue.

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I am starting to think that Giants clubhouse manager Mike Murphy had tongue firmly in cheek when he reissued Barry Zito’s No.75 to Eric Cordier. Reports of Cordier’s velocity are not overstated.

He didn’t always know where it was going, but Giants scout Pat Burrell (a sequence of words I continue to type with amazement) clocked four of Cordier’s pitches at 100 mph. Apparently other guns had him at 97 mph, according to Alex Pavlovic’s eyewitness account. That’s pretty firm on February 28, in any case.

I talked to Cordier after the game. Look for that story on the site Saturday morning.

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As if Mark Minicozzi’s story couldn’t possible get any better, he walked to the plate for his first at-bat of the spring – and hit a home run on the first swing he took. Really, he did. We’re not embellishing here.

After the game, Bruce Bochy's only comment was, "Minicozzi, he made the club..."

Minor leaguers Jeff Arnold and Andrew Susac were calling Minicozzi "the Bambino" when he walked back into the clubhouse

Minicozzi also was hit by a pitch in the game, and worked his way back from an 0-2 count to draw a walk. That was almost as impressive.

Minicozzi’s story is such an incredible script that it might be easy to lose sight of the fact that this 31-year-old rookie is a legitimate player to watch. I received a tweet from Taylor Rogers, a Giants minor league pitcher who played with Minicozzi at Double-A last season, telling me I shouldn’t be surprised. He called Minicozzi “one of the best pure hitters I’ve had the pleasure to play with,” and that “the dude rakes.

Rogers also reminded me that Minicozzi finished second in the Double-A Eastern League batting race to Cesar Puello, a Mets farmhand who was one of the guys busted in the Biogenesis scandal. Puello had enough plate appearances to qualify, barely.

Is there any precedent where a guy busted for PEDs recused himself from the batting race? Hmmm…I’ll have to give that one some thought. (Coughmelkycough!)