Vogelsong, Sanchez expected to start on DL

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Vogelsong, Sanchez expected to start on DL

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Although it had become obvious to everyone from the South Rim to the Mexican border that Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Vogelsong would begin the season on the disabled list, Giants manager Bruce Bochy acknowledged Friday that the organization is leaning in that direction with both players.

Sanchez took infield practice but did not make full throws. He'll finally start at second base in a minor league game either Saturday or Sunday. But he will have the option to not throw to first base on ground balls in the hole, which would cause him to throw across his body and test his surgically repaired right shoulder.

Vogelsong made his first game appearance in minor league camp on Friday and was frustrated that he only was allowed to throw 24 pitches. Bochy confirmed the Giants are looking at skipping his first turn and starting him April 15, when the club needs a fifth starter for the first time.

Thus the opening rotation would be Tim Lincecum, Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain and Barry Zito. Cain would be lined up to pitch the home opener April 13.

"We're being cautious and he knows that," Bochy said of Vogelsong, who strained his lower back in the weight room in early February. "We'll take this slow. We're not going to push him to get him ready for his first start."

Vogelsong has taken fielding practice but hasn't taken any swings besides bunting. Bochy said the training staff does not want Vogelsong, a fairly good hitter, taking swings yet.

Vogelsong could make a minor league start as a tuneup for April 15, Bochy said.

"We'll make that decision as we see where Vogey's at," the manager said.

As for Sanchez, it's become clear as day that he won't be ready to start the season. Bochy said it was a "strong possibility" that Sanchez would begin on the DL.

"it's kind of day to day with Freddy right now, to be honest," Bochy said.

In other injury news, Buster Posey is expected to catch six innings Friday night and start at first base in Saturday's home split-squad against the Colorado Rockies -- the first time all spring that he'll play defense on consecutive days. Bochy said he didn't have a read on how much Posey could catch this season, and likely wouldn't until April or May.

Aubrey Huff is starting in left field both Friday night and Saturday. Bochy cautioned not to read too much into that, except he wanted to be sure Huff got some action at the position and was comfortable being an option there.

Finally, Brian Wilson will appear in a minor league game Saturday and if all goes well, he'd throw an inning Monday against the Kansas City Royals at Scottsdale.

Here are the lineups for Friday night, and also both squads on Saturday. Subject to change, as always:

Friday vs. Texas at Scottsdale Stadium
CF Angel Pagan
DH Gregor Blanco
C Buster Posey
LF Aubrey Huff
1B Brandon Belt
RF Nate Schierholtz
3B Ryan Theriot
SS Brandon Crawford
2B Emmanuel Burriss
P Madison Bumgarner

(Crawford is feeling better after a dizzy spell a day earlier. Theriot's ankle is improved, as is Burriss's hamstring.)

Saturday vs. Rockies at Scottsdale Stadium
Angel Pagan CF
Melky Cabrera RF
Aubrey Huff LF
Buster Posey 1B
Hector Sanchez C
Mike Fontenot 2B
Brandon Crawford SS
Joaquin Arias 3B
Travis Blackley P (up from minor league camp)

Saturday vs. Reds at Goodyear
Gregor Blanco CF
Emmanuel Burriss SS
Brandon Belt 1B
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Nate Schierholtz RF
Ryan Theriot 2B
Eli Whiteside C
Justin Christian LF
Matt Cain P

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

With Bumgarner sidelined, Blach 'taking full advantage' of opportunity

SAN FRANCISCO -- At some point over the next four days, Madison Bumgarner will pick up a baseball, stand a few feet across from a member of the training staff, and simply play catch. It'll be a huge step in Bumgarner's rehab, and should it go well, a boost to the psyche of a struggling team.

In the meantime, another lefty is making sure the Giants don't suffer too much without their ace, as improbable as that first seemed.

Ty Blach took a shutout into the eighth Saturday night and in true Bumgarner fashion, he added a pair of hits and an RBI. The Giants beat the Braves 6-3. They've won Blach's past three starts, and even with a 10-run outing in Cincinnati mixed in, he has a 3.71 ERA since taking the spot left open by a dirt bike accident.

"Because of what happened he's in the rotation," manager Bruce Bochy said, "And he's taking full advantage."

Blach has shown that long term, he might be a big part of this rotation. It's been years since the Giants locked a young, cost-controlled starter in, and Blach has backed up his big cameo last year. It's possible -- likely even -- that at some point the Giants will need to trade a veteran, perhaps Johnny Cueto, for young bats. Blach provides needed insurance. 

Short term, he's providing a huge boost to a team that doesn't have much going right. Blach has thrown at least seven innings in his past four starts. He has allowed just eight earned runs in four starts since the one in Cincinnati, throwing 28 2/3 innings. 

"I feel good," Blach said. "I've always been a starter, so it's been a pretty easy transition to make. I feel comfortable."

The Giants are comfortable behind him, as evidenced by a half-dozen strong defensive plays Saturday. 

"He's been consistent and he works quickly," first baseman Brandon Belt said. "He's just a great guy to play behind."

Blach even joined in at the plate. He had an RBI single in his first at-bat -- his first big league hit off Not Clayton Kershaw -- and later roped another single. Blach even showed off his wheels, busting it from first to third on Denard Span's ball to the corner before Phil Nevin held him up. 

"I worked into some good counts and I was able to get fastballs," Blach said of his night at the plate. "It's definitely a big confidence booster when your spot comes up and you're able to drive in runs."

The night was straight out of Bumgarner's playbook, and it was needed. The Giants had dropped five of six, but Blach was backed by homers from Nick Hundley and Brandon Belt. It got a little hairy late, but the bullpen held on, clinching Blach's third win of the season. He looks poised for many more, and Bochy is happy to keep running him out there.

"I'm not surprised by what he's doing," the manager said.

 

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

Instant Analysis: Blach does it all vs Braves, Giants snap skid

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — This spot in the rotation is the one reserved for the stopper, the pitcher who takes a game by the throat when his team really needs it. 

Ty Blach took the mound Saturday for a team that had lost five of six, and just as Madison Bumgarner often has, Blach ended the skid. The young lefty was dominant into the eighth and the bats finally provided enough support. The Giants won 6-3, tying this weekend series with the Braves.

Here are five things to know from a night we were reminded that Emilio Bonifacio is in the big leagues … 

--- Blach pitched 7 2/3 innings. He has thrown at least seven innings in his last four starts, and five of seven starts overall. Jeff Samardzija (6) is the only Giants starter who has gone that deep more often. Blach is tied with Johnny Cueto for second-most seven-inning starts on staff, and Cueto has made three additional starts. 

--- Blach’s RBI single in the fourth was -- at the time -- the fourth hit of his career, and the first against a pitcher not named Clayton Kershaw. The ball had an exit velocity of 101 mph. Blach tried to score from first on Denard Span’s double, but Phil Nevin held him. Still, the way he was moving, it makes you wonder if Samardzija really is Bruce Bochy’s best pitcher-pinch-running option. In the seventh, Blach picked up a second single. 

--- Blach’s only bad start has been the one he made in Cincinnati, where the Giants played like a Double-A team. If you take that one out, Blach has a 2.21 ERA since taking over Bumgarner’s rotation spot. 

--- Even though he gave up just two earned in 7 2/3, Blach’s home ERA actually went up. It’s 1.75, which ranks seventh in the National League. The sellout crowd gave Blach a standing ovation when he was pulled in the eighth. 

--- Blach had a season-high five strikeouts. When he got Nick Markakis to end the first, Blach ended a streak of 37 left-handers faced without a strikeout. He later struck out another lefty, Matt Adams. The new Braves first baseman came up as the tying run in the eighth but Derek Law got him to ground out to first. 

--- Bonus sixth “thing to know” ... on Blach of course: His first name is Tyson, not Tyler. It’s Tyson Michael Blach.