Wilson's agents talking to many clubs, but not Giants

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Wilson's agents talking to many clubs, but not Giants

NASHVILLE – The Giants are keeping the door open to re-sign Brian Wilson, but they expect the popular three-time All-Star closer to roam the market for awhile to assess his value.

Giants vice president Bobby Evans said he had two phone conversations with Wilson’s agent, Dan Lozano, following the GM meetings a month ago. But they haven’t spoken about Wilson at the winter meetings here at Opryland Resort.

Lozano told the San Francisco Chronicle that seven teams have shown interest in Wilson as either a closer or setup man; the agent didn’t specify whether the Giants were counted among those teams.

Evans stressed that the Giants want to remain engaged, and that has been communicated to Lozano and Co.

“He hasn’t been out there long. He needs time to see what his options are,” Evans said. “There’s clearly an understanding we have interest to keep the door open and bring him back.”

The market for Wilson remains difficult to gauge. On one hand, Joakim Soria, another closer who had his second Tommy John surgery in April, just received a two-year, $8 million deal with an option for 2015 from the Texas Rangers. On the other hand, some officials privately expressed concern with Wilson’s eccentric personality, and wonder if the act will become a distraction if plans go awry and he ends up pitching in a losing environment.

One rival GM suggested Wilson’s best course would be to re-sign with the Giants, where they know him and understand him and would be patient if he struggles to regain his form.

Health remains a major question for Wilson, who underwent his second Tommy John surgery on April 19. Although recovery from a first reconstructive elbow surgery is a full 12 months, and typically even longer following a second procedure, Wilson has vowed to be ready by opening day.

Evans acknowledged that goal is far from a guarantee, though.

“Being out there opening day is a great goal, and I wouldn’t put it past him, if his medical team supports that,” Evans said. “But it’s more important you be there for the last out in the second half of the season. … Brian understands that.

“Whether it’s us or anybody else who signs him, you have to prepare for him not to be out there if it’s not in his best interests. It may mean some alternative plans at the beginning of the year. We’ll have to wait and see.”

Just moments after the distillation of those comments were posted on Twitter, they apparently elicited a rapid response by way of Yahoo! Sports reporter Tim Brown:

“Source: Brian Wilson has been told by surgeon James Andrews that he will be cleared for spring training and ready by opening day,” Brown posted to his Twitter account.

Yes, it's clear the Giants and Wilson don't agree on much these days. Expect more back-and-forth between Wilson’s camp and the Giants, who non-tendered the right-hander on Friday rather than offer him a contract that would net him a salary of no less than $6.8 million through arbitration. Wilson was said to feel jilted by that decision, even though he pocketed $8.5 million for throwing just 56 pitches last season.

Harder to quantify is Wilson’s legacy in San Francisco and the residue of his contributions in 2010, when he contends he sacrificed his arm down the stretch before throwing the final pitch to clinch the franchise’s first World Series title since moving from New York in 1958.

With Wilson currently a free agent, the Giants’ current plan would be to use 2012 postseason hero Sergio Romo as the closer, augmented by Jeremy Affeldt and Santiago Casilla.

On a side note, prominent agent Scott Boras touched on the Giants bullpen during his annual briefing with reporters on Wednesday, saying it was an anomaly for a club to succeed without a stable, established presence in the closer role.

Boras is representing bullpen ace Rafael Soriano, of course.

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

Early offense, six strong from Cueto lift Giants past Braves in finale

BOX SCORE

SAN FRANCISCO -- The blisters on Johnny Cueto's middle and index fingers that limited his effectiveness in his last few starts haven't yet completely healed.

But the two-time All-Star is learning to pitch with them.

Cueto threw six strong innings and Brandon Crawford drove in three runs as the San Francisco Giants defeated the Atlanta Braves 7-1 on Sunday.

Cueto (5-4) bounced back from his roughest stretch as a Giant. He was 0-3 with a 4.33 ERA in his previous four starts.

"They're not bothering me like they were before," Cueto said through a translator. "I'm just getting used to it but I have to continue pitching until they get better."

The Giants won their third straight home series and posted their 11th victory in 18 games overall.

Crawford's two-run single highlighted a four-run second against R.A. Dickey (3-4) that made it 6-0.

Matt Kemp had three hits for Atlanta. But the Braves couldn't get much going against Cueto, who allowed one run on six hits and a walk. Cueto struck out eight, including five in a row at one point.

"He did what he needed to do to get us out," Kemp said. "We had chances to score runs and we didn't. I think in this series we really didn't do a good score of scoring runs."

Dickey allowed a season-high seven runs (six earned) on six hits and five walks in six innings.

"This can be a challenging place to throw because of the wind because it swirls so much," Dickey said.

Eduardo Nunez and Gorkys Hernandez each had two hits for the Giants. Joe Panik tripled to start the second-inning burst.

Cueto had two productive at-bats, bunting a runner to second in the second inning and driving in a run with a sacrifice fly in the third.

"It's always nice to have a lead and I thought Johnny was the sharpest he'd been this year," Giants catcher Buster Posey said. "Hopefully it's something he can build on. The changeup was working really well and his command of the fastball was really good."

Posey was 0 for 2 with two walks. He hasn't struck out in 55 consecutive plate appearances.

FUN FACTOR:
The Giants scored the game's first run when Nunez came around from third when a knuckleball glanced off catcher Kurt Suzuki glove in the bottom of the first. The play was ruled a passed ball. Asked if he had any empathy for the plight of his counterpart, Posey said "Yes, no question. It's not fun to hit, it doesn't look fun to catch, either."

FANCY FIELDING:
Hernandez made a diving catch in the gap in left-center robbing Emilio Bonifacio of an extra-base hit with one out in the seventh inning.

TRAINER'S ROOM:
Braves: 2B Brandon Phillips left in the fifth for pinch-hitter Jace Peterson. Phillips fouled a ball off his foot in his last at-bat in the third.

Giants: LHP Madison Bumgarner will start his throwing program on Friday, manager Bruce Bochy said. Bumgarner will start out playing catch and make five rehab starts. The 2014 World Series MVP suffered a separated left shoulder in a dirt biking accident. "The progress is happening," Bochy said. "I think he sees light at the end of the tunnel." ... Slumping rookie INF Christian Arroyo was out of the lineup on Sunday and his playing status appears uncertain. Arroyo, who turns 22 on Tuesday, is 0 for 19 in his last five games. "I'll talk to him, about what his situation is," Bochy said. "I'm definitely planning on giving him a couple of days" off.

UP NEXT:
Braves: RHP Julio Teheran will make his first career start against the Angels in Anaheim on Monday. He is 3-9 with a 5.63 ERA in 15 career interleague starts.

Giants: LHP Matt Moore will face the Nationals for the second time in his career. He was with Tampa Bay when he gave up two runs in five innings against Washington in 2012.

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

Giants lineup: Posey catching, Nunez at third base against Braves

The Giants look to win two straight against the Braves and Bruce Bochy has made a few changes to the lineup Sunday.

Atlanta Braves (21-26)

1. Ender Inciarte (L) CF
2. Brandon Phillips (R) 2B
3. Nick Markakis (L) RF
4. Matt Kemp (R) LF
5. Matt Adams (L) 1B
6. Kurt Suzuki (R) C
7. Rio Ruiz (L) 3B
8. Dansby Swanson (R) SS
9. R.A. Dickey (R) P

San Francisco Giants (21-30)

1. Denard Span (L) CF
2. Eduardo Nunez (R) 3B
3. Brandon Belt (L) 1B
4. Buster Posey (R) C
5. Brandon Crawford (L) SS
6. Justin Ruggiano (R) RF
7. Joe Panik (L) 2B
8. Gorkys Hernandez (R) LF
9. Johnny Cueto (R) P