Roster advice for Brian Sabean

818688.jpg

Roster advice for Brian Sabean

How do you spell relief? Try S-A-B-E-A-N. Giants GM Brian Sabean knows a thing or two about fortifying a bullpen midseason -- see 2010, when he made the under-the-radar but critical additions of Javier Lopez and Ramon Ramirez. And Im guessing that is once again at the forefront of Sabeans attention, as the non-waiver trade deadline approaches.This year is different than the last two. The Giants arent desperate for a big bat to rescue an anemic offense. To be clear, theyre still far from a juggernaut (12th in NL in runs scored, last in home runs). But as we all as know, with that pitching staff, they dont have to be. And hey, their .261 batting average is tied for fourth in the league. More importantly, the lineup just feels more adequate than it has the last couple of seasons.Could it use more thump? Of course. But theyd likely settle for a reasonably-cheap, reasonably-productive, reasonably-right-handed bat. Im talking Chris Denorfia. Or Jonny Gomes. Not Carlos Beltran. That aint happenin this time aroundRELATED: Should Giants acquire a closer?
Adding the right piece to the 'pen, however, could be of critical importance for the stretch run. This team plays a whole lot of one-run games, and Bruce Bochy loves him some bullpen fun. He will channel his inner La Russa all summer long, and playing the matchups works a whole lot better when you have a stable of reliable options at your disposal.Let me be clear: I am not suggesting the Giants need a new closer. Not exactly. I think Santiago Casilla will be just fine. I know hes gone through a rough patch recently, but not many closers dont during the course of a long season. And while its easy to peruse the recent numbers and dwell on those four blown saves in six chances, lets not forget that in two of those games Casilla was pitching through blister problems, and in another he fanned the would-be final out -- only to have the batter reach base and the tying run score from second on a play you might never see again.That said, heres my advice to the man who doesnt need my advice: Hedge your bet. Go get a quality reliever who can close if need be, but wont cost anywhere near as much as a bona fide stopper. There are plenty of those guys out there -- Houstons Brandon Lyon, Minnesotas Jared Burton, Baltimores Luis Ayala, to name a few. All having really nice seasons, all with at least some closing experience. And none of whom will cost anything close to a top prospect.Is the bullpen the Giants biggest weakness? Clearly not. On the contrary, you could argue its their biggest strength. Doesnt mean its not a priority for the guy in charge of making a good team better. Like World Series better. Kinda like two years ago.

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.