Vogelsong makes case for playoff rotation

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Vogelsong makes case for playoff rotation

BOX SCORE

LOS ANGELES Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he wouldannounce his NL Division Series rotation the entire rotation followingThursdays optional workout at AT&T Park.

Ryan Vogelsong did his best to make it an arduous decisionin Wednesdays regular-season finale.

Thats probably the best Ive thrown the ball all season,said Vogelsong, who took a no-hitter into the fifth inning, when an error keptthe team on the field and Dodgers pitcher Clayton Kershaw followed with an RBIsingle. I thought I didnt miss a pitch till Kershaw got that breaking ballthere.

Vogelsong did not receive a decision after throwing 71pitches over five innings. He finished with a 14-9 record and 3.37 ERA, comingup just short in a bid to join Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner and Barry Zito inthe 15-win club.

More importantly, he allowed just one earned run over hisfinal three starts a run that more closely approximated those fantastic firstfour months, when he was the NL ERA leader as late as Aug. 8.

He threw great, Bochy said. Good stuff, good command.Like with Matt Cain, we got him where we wanted him. He pitched very well. Hesall set to go. Now its a matter of setting up this rotation and deciding howwe want to do things.

Like with Cain? Does that suggest Vogelsong is being groomedto start, perhaps as early as Game 3 in Cincinnati?

Sure, possibly, Bochy said. But also in case we want touse him the first couple games, wed have him available.

Vogelsong, for all his intensity, said he wouldnt try to lobbyfor a start.

I just tried to treat today like a playoff game, mentally,said Vogelsong, who is the only member of the Giants rotation who hasntpitched in one. Personally, Id love to have the opportunity to start aplayoff game. But at this point, its not about me. Its about us. If the bestdecision is for me to go to the bullpen, thats what Im going to do.

Well know soon enough.

Many fans would say the simplest thing to do is sendLincecum, clearly the worst of the five starters over the long haul this season,to the bullpen. But Bochy has spoken many times about Lincecums ability toperform when the lights come on. I think theres still a level of belief thatTimmy will come through, despite finishing with the worst ERA (5.18) of 46 NLpitchers who qualified for the ERA title.

Im not saying this is how the Giants will go, but if itsup to me, I would start Cain and Bumgarner in the first two games, then startLincecum in Game 3. You can usually tell if Lincecum is on or off within the first10 pitches. If hes off, Id pull the ripcord and use Vogelsong as yourparachute.

That way, if Lincecum does pitch well and the series goes toGame 4, you can start Zito (with Vogelsong providing backup again). Bochy canalways reserve the right to turn to Cain on short rest, too.

In the postseason, its all about keeping your options open.And hopefully, you like most of them.

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

Giants spring training day 8: Melancon, Hundley go way back

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — A couple of days before he signed a four-year deal, Mark Melancon fired off a midnight text to Nick Hundley. 

“Call me,” Melancon wrote.

When Hundley called, he found out his college teammate had chosen the Giants, ending a free agency process the two spoke about often. Two months later, it was Hundley’s turn to reach out. 

“I asked him if he wanted to play together again,” Hundley said. “He said, ‘You better not be messing with me.’”

The Giants signed just two free agents who are guaranteed of being on the opening day roster. In an odd twist, the new closer and new backup catcher have known each other for over a decade. Hundley was a second-round pick in 2005 out of the University of Arizona. A year later, his college teammate Melancon was a ninth-round pick. The two have stayed close throughout the pro ball journey. They were groomsmen in each other’s weddings and their wives and children hang out together. 

“We always talked about playing together,” Hundley said, adding that the odds were long in a 30-team sport.

The friends have crossed off a good chunk of them. Melancon has played for the Yankees, Astros, Red Sox, Pirates and Nationals. Hundley has played for the Padres, Orioles and Rockies. Finally, the two have hooked on to the same team, and the Giants are excited to have them both. Hundley will be the veteran catcher the team has missed in recent years, and the Giants are hopeful that he’s a pinch-hit threat, too. Melancon, of course, was brought in to fix the glaring problem in the ninth. Hundley is confident he’ll do it.

“I’ve caught him since 2005,” he said smiling, “And he’s always been nasty.”

NEW FACE: It’s hard to take much away from drills, but Orlando Calixte certainly impressed. As the Giants worked out on the field for the first time in three days, I asked GM Bobby Evans what Calixte showed the team’s scouts. “Just his athleticism, his tools, they stand out,” Evans said. They certainly do. Calixte is smooth out there, and he showed quickness at short that might differentiate him from the pack of infield options. 

Calixte has also played second, third and the outfield in the minors, and while the Giants intend on keeping five outfielders, that versatility could come into play. The Giants plucked Calixte from Kansas City’s system and put him on the 40-man roster when it became apparent that other offers were out there. They thought he could provide more versatility than Ehire Adrianza, and it helps that he has an option remaining. Calixte has to beat out a bunch of guys to win a roster spot, but given his glove and his status on the 40-man, it would be a surprise if we don’t see him at some point this season. 

ICYMI: Bruce Bochy said he’ll call Johnny Cueto to talk about his preparation for the World Baseball Classic. 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain, the clear frontrunner for the No. 5 spot, faced hitters on the main field. Bochy liked what he saw. “He’s gotten more time away from that surgery and he’s throwing the ball well,” Bochy said. “Buster said the same thing. It’s coming out good.”

NOTEWORTHY: The Giants are serious about making Trevor Brown a more versatile option. He fielded grounders at short today and also spent plenty of time at second. 

QUOTABLE: “Just a good day. We (the coaches) were talking about how it’s changed a little bit. We’re not even in March yet and guys are letting it go.” — Bochy on the first day of live BP sessions. The pitchers were certainly well ahead of the hitters today. 

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

Will Cueto be ready for the WBC? 'That’s the question we have to answer'

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jeff Samardzija whirled and fired a strike to Eduardo Nuñez shortly after 11:30 a.m. on Monday. With that, the Giants took another step back toward actual baseball.

Monday was the first day of live batting practice sessions, but the most important one took place thousands of miles east of Scottsdale Stadium. Johnny Cueto faced teenage prospects at the club’s facility in Santo Domingo, and Bruce Bochy said he would call Cueto to check in on his progress. 

The Giants are not concerned that Cueto — who is tending to his ill father — is missing so much of spring training. They know him well enough by now to know that Cueto paces himself and takes care of his body. They are, however, starting to get a little concerned about Cueto missing so much camp and then going straight to the World Baseball Classic. 

“The spring started early so he’s got plenty of time to get ready for (opening day),” manager Bruce Bochy said. “The question will be will he be ready for the WBC. That’s the question we have to answer.”

Bochy said he would like to see Cueto in the 50-60 pitch range before he goes off to compete for the Dominican Republic. The Dominican team opens play March 9 at Marlins Park. 

“We’re going to talk about a lot of things,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where he’s at, see where he’s at mentally, and see how his father is doing.”

Bochy noted that Nolan Ryan used to show up to camp on March 1 and throw 80 mph, working his way up from there. The Giants view Cueto the same way, but at some point there will be a breaking point where the WBC participation becomes a real concern. At the very least, Bochy said, Cueto might be asked to join the DR team later in the tournament.