SAN FRANCISCO – Guillermo Quiroz has been a consistent early arrival to AT&T Park, preparing for the day he would see his name in the starting lineup.
That hope became reality Wednesday morning when the reserve catcher discovered he would draw his first start of the season, catching Madison Bumgarner in the series finale against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
Quiroz, 31, entered this season with 103 major league games under his belt over eight seasons. He made the Giants’ opening day roster as a non-roster invitee, providing insurance as regular backup catcher Hector Sanchez was hindered by a shoulder injury late in spring training.
As the third catcher, Quiroz’s opportunity has been relegated to pinch-hit appearances (he’s 3 for 5). But he’s very familiar with Bumgarner because he was paired up with the lefty plenty during Cactus League games.
“That’s part of the reason he’s catching,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He needs a start. He’s been giving us some pretty good at-bats. He’s done a nice job and he’s got some experience in the major leagues. We’ll give him some at-bats.”
Quiroz has kept busy studying the entire starting rotation for the day he would get his chance.
“I walked in, the lineup was posted, I saw my name and got a smile on my face,” Quiroz said. “I’ve just been waiting for my chance, coming off the bench, pinch hitting. I get here early and do my routine, work hard so when my opportunity comes, I’m ready.”
The Venezuela native was originally signed by Toronto in 1998. He’s bounced all over, seeing big league time with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles and Red Sox. He is a career .206 hitter with two homers and 28 RBI.
Quiroz says he and Bumgarner know each other well.
“I’ve worked a ton with him in spring training,” he said. “We worked a lot on his sequences, locating his pitches. Certain pitches he throws in certain counts. I think we have a pretty good idea of what we’re doing.”
From the no-surprise-whatsoever department, Bochy confirmed that Buster Posey would catch Tim Lincecum on Friday at San Diego, the second straight start the two will be paired after Sanchez caught Lincecum’s first three starts.
Lincecum had his best outing of the season with Posey behind the plate Saturday, when he fired 6 2/3 shutout innings against the Padres at home.
“I will say, as far as his command and tempo, he was really good his last start,” Bochy said. “That’s what we’d like to see Friday, and I think Buster was a part of that.”
As Matt Cain’s early-season shakiness becomes more of a story, Bochy remains unconcerned about his staff ace, at least publicly.
“I thought he threw the ball well” Tuesday night, the manager said.
Cain allowed four runs (three earned) over six innings against Arizona and surrendered his sixth homer. He’s tied for second-most long balls allowed in the National League and his ERA sits at 6.59 after five starts.