Giants

Whiteside promotion allows Bochy to play it safe with Posey

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Whiteside promotion allows Bochy to play it safe with Posey

SAN FRANCISCO Buster Poseys hamstring is not back to fullstrength yet, which prompted the Giants to bring in Eli Whiteside forreinforcement.Whiteside, who went 1-for-8 in a brief July call-up, takes the active rosterspot of right-handed pitcher Eric Hacker, who was optioned back to Triple-AFresno following Saturdays loss to the Atlanta Braves.Giants manager Bruce Bochy explained the logic behind bringing Whiteside backto the big leagues and the luxury it affords him moving forward.We just wanted some coverage on the catching side, Bochysaid. Were getting in a situation with Buster not quite being 100 that wecould run for him and still have another catcher. And today, for example, withhim playing first base, if I want to take him out and put Brandon Belt outthere, put his defense there, then have another catcher that can back up HectorSanchez.Bochy said that it will also allow him to use Sanchez, a switch-hitter, as anoption off the bench on days Posey starts at catcher. Posey and Sanchez have combined for 93 RBIs as backstops this season, which ranks ahead of all other catcher corps in the big leagues.
It frees you up to use Hector to pinch hit a little easier,Bochy said. We just feel like were better off going with the third catcherright now.Both Bochy and Posey said that the hamstring issue isbothersome on the basepaths, not in the squat.He feels it running just a little bit, Bochy said. Hesgoing to take it easy and situations where we need some speed out there anddont want him to push it, then having another catcher is going to allow me tomake that move.While Posey is in the starting lineup at first base Sunday,Bochy said that he doesnt plan to keep his cleanup hitter away from catchingmore than usual over the next week.Hopefully with a day off and playing first today, wellgive this thing even more time to get completely healed, Bochy said. Hesdoing pretty good. I dont know where to put him at, 90-95. But hes realclose to having it right.The choice to keep three catchers comes at the expense of an extra arm in thebullpen, but Bochy isnt concerned.Weve got a day off tomorrow so give those guys some time to freshen up,Bochy said of his relievers. And now were not looking at too many days beforewe have our call-ups to get some help. So I think were covered until they gethere.Bochy is referring to Sept. 1, when the Giants roster can expand from 25active players to include anyone listed on the 40-man roster. Before that daycomes, the Giants will need to make a decision on reliever Guillermo Mota, whowas suspended 100 games for testing positive for performance enhancing drugs.Sunday is the final day of Motas suspension, which meansthe Giants will have to make a decision to either activate the veteranright-hander or designate him for assignment on Tuesday.Bochy isnt ready to make a call on Mota before the rules force the Giants to.We havent made that decision, Bochy said.

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

After Stratton leads way in Giants' shutout, what does his future hold?

SAN FRANCISCO — After the final out Monday night, a round table was carried into the corner of the home clubhouse at AT&T Park and surrounded by chairs. Eleven players were sitting, eating, drinking and laughing as Chris Stratton prepared to address the media. 

It was a rare sight for the Giants these days, a very rare sight. But then, so was Monday’s result. Stratton led the way in a 2-0 win over the Brewers that was the first home shutout of the season and motivated the joyous post-game scene. 

The shutout was just the second of the season for the staff. Ty Blach went the distance in the other one and Stratton, a fellow rookie, did the heavy lifting Monday, throwing six strong innings before giving way to the bullpen. Matt Cain pitched the seventh, Mark Melancon pitched the eighth while going back-to-back for the first time in three months, and Sam Dyson closed it out quickly. 

There’s a chance that Stratton joins that group in a few days. Johnny Cueto is scheduled to make a rehab start on Tuesday night in Sacramento and that could put him on track to return to the rotation a turn later. That would line up with Stratton’s next start, but Bruce Bochy wasn’t ready to kick the young righty out of the rotation, not after back-to-back scoreless starts against two of the better lineups in the league. A few days after striking out 10 Washington Nationals, Stratton cut through the Brewers. He has 12 2/3 scoreless innings over his past two appearances. 

“For how we’re using him, he’s really handled it well,” Bochy said. “We skipped him, moved him back three or four days, but he doesn’t let it faze him. This is an important time for these young players coming up, whether it’s (Ryder) Jones or (Jarrett) Parker or Stratton. They’re trying to show they belong in the Major Leagues.

“You’re hoping these guys show they’re ready to play here and we don’t have to do something else because we can do it internally.”

Bochy said he could use a six-man rotation when Cueto returns, or a starter could be skipped. That will all sort itself, but the manager made one thing clear. 

“We’d like to pitch him as much as we can,” Bochy said of Stratton.

That’s the same thing Bochy used to say of another right-hander, one he compared Stratton to before Monday’s game. Bochy was asked about Yusmeiro Petit, and he smiled and fondly stated, “He was so good. So good.” The Giants see some Petit in Stratton. He is unaffected by long layoffs and he’s capable of starting, relieving, or even pumping his fastball up a couple ticks for short outings. 

Petit was a mainstay in San Francisco for years, a key cog in a championship team. Bochy has been looking for that piece since Petit departed in free agency, and Stratton seems like he might be suited for the role. He will want more, of course, because all pitchers do. The Giants will give him five more weeks here to try and earn that. 

For the moment, Stratton’s focus is elsewhere. He turns 27 on Monday and the celebration started early. As Stratton answered questions, veterans at the table heckled him about striking out just one Brewer. 

“I left all the strikeouts in Washington, I guess,” Stratton said. 

Nick Hundley walked up with a TV remote and held it up between the cameras. 

“What was your thought on the punchout?” he asked. 

“I’m glad he swung,” Stratton said, smiling. “It was a ball.”

“Did you think about getting any more?” Hundley asked. 

With that, he smiled and ducked back behind the cameras to return to the celebration in the corner. A few minutes later, Stratton joined him.

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

Instant Analysis: Five takeaways from Giants' first home shutout of 2017

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO — Ty Blach has been a bright spot in this losing season, giving the Giants a young, cost-controlled lefty who can potentially fill a huge role next season. Chris Stratton is trying to do the same thing from the right side. 

The 26-year-old continued his August surge, throwing six dominant innings against the Brewers in a 2-0 win that was the staff's first shutout at AT&T Park this season. 

It was the kind of night that's been so familiar over the years. The Giants had six home shutouts last season. Here are five things to know from this year's first ... 

—- The Brewers are first in the league in homers and the Nationals are third, so Stratton had his work cut out for him the last two times out. His results: 12 2/3 innings, 9 hits, 0 runs, 3 walks, 11 strikeouts. That’s quite the statement. Stratton’s scoreless streak is the longest by a Giants rookie starter since Chris Heston threw 16 1/3 consecutive scoreless innings in July of 2015. 

—- Matt Cain was used as a short reliever to protect a two-run lead in the seventh. He had a 1-2-3 inning that ended with a strikeout. 

—- Mark Melancon pitched back-to-back games for the first time since May 19-20. He struck out Neil Walker and Ryan Braun in a perfect inning. 

—- Jarrett Parker reached base his first three times up. He’s hitting .385 at home this season but he’s just 4-for-35 (.114) on the road. Weird splits for a Giant slugger. 

—- Brandon Crawford is finally finding some traction. His double in the fourth was the big hit in a two-run frame that gave Stratton a lead to work with. Crawford is 7-for-17 on the home stand with three extra-base hits and four RBI.