Jimenez returns from DL to face Giants

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Jimenez returns from DL to face Giants

April 19, 2011

GIANTS (9-7) vs.
COLORADO (12-4)

Coverage begins at 5 P.M. on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area

DENVER (AP) -- The Colorado Rockies have played excellent baseball without their ace, but the return of Ubaldo Jimenez figures to provide them with a big lift.

In his first start off the disabled list, Jimenez will take the mound for the Rockies on Tuesday night as they continue their series against the San Francisco Giants.

After going 19-8 with a 2.88 ERA last season, throwing a no-hitter and finishing third in the NL Cy Young Award voting, Jimenez (0-0, 7.50 ERA) was aiming to build off that breakout campaign this season.

However, his debut was a forgettable one as he gave up six runs and seven hits - including two homers - in six innings of a 7-6, 11-inning loss to Arizona on April 1.

Jimenez blamed a cut cuticle on his pitching thumb and was placed on the disabled list April 6.

He returns to the mound with his team tied for the majors' best record at 12-4. Despite missing its ace, Colorado's starters were 9-1 with a 3.60 ERA before a rough outing by Esmil Rogers in Monday's series opener led to an 8-1 loss.

"It's a group effort and just because one guy goes down doesn't mean the others can't pick him up," Troy Tulowitzki said. "I went down last year and we played just fine. Carlos (Gonzalez) has had his fair share of injuries and we've done all right. Ubaldo now, too."

Jimenez is 5-5 with a 3.13 ERA in 14 starts against the Giants. He went 2-1 in four last season with two complete games.

Jimenez will try to give the Coors Field crowd something to cheer about after Giants ace Tim Lincecum took a no-hitter into the seventh inning Monday before giving up a one-out single to Gonzalez.

Lincecum struck out 10 over 7 2-3 innings as San Francisco (9-7) won for the fifth time in six games, holding the Rockies to their fewest runs of the season.

REWIND: Lincecum flirts with no-hitter in 8-1 Giants win

"Well, the guy was dealing today," Gonzalez said. "That's why the guy has two Cy Young Awards. Whenever you have to face a guy like that you want to count on your starting pitcher because runs are going to be hard to come by."

Lincecum had plenty of help from the offense, which tagged Rogers for eight runs in three innings, scoring five in the first. Freddy Sanchez, Pat Burrell and Nate Schierholtz all homered in that inning.

The Rockies were limited to a season-low four hits, getting an RBI double from Todd Helton in the seventh.

Tulowitzki, who came in hitting .364, went 0 for 3 with two strikeouts.

It was the second time in three games Colorado was blown out after the team's previous two losses came in extra innings. The Rockies lost 8-3 to Chicago on Saturday.

With a tough act to follow after Lincecum, Jonathan Sanchez (1-1, 3.24) takes the ball for the Giants looking to build off his best start of the year.

Sanchez yielded three runs and struck out a season-high nine in six innings of a 4-3 win over the Los Angeles Dodgers on Wednesday.

Sanchez has 24 strikeouts over his first 16 2-3 innings, but he hadn't completed six innings in his previous two starts.

The left-hander is 2-1 with a 1.52 ERA and 27 strikeouts in his last four starts against the Rockies after going 1-3 with a 7.30 ERA in the first seven.

San Francisco has won five of the last six meetings.

NOTES

These teams split their 18 meetings last season, however, the Giants have won four of the last five matchups between the clubs. ... San Francisco has won four of its last five games after opening the season with four wins in its first 10 contests. The Giants have scored exactly five runs in three straight and four of their last five games. ... The Rockies, who at 12-3 own the best record in the majors this season, have won eight of their last nine games. ... Tim Lincecum has seven wins in his career against the Rockies, which is tied for the most wins in his career against any opponent (7 vs. Arizona). ... Esmil Rogers, who has won each of his two starts this season, is 0-1 with a 5.40 ERA in two career starts against San Francisco. ... Todd Helton has 110 RBI in his career against the Giants -- the third-most in his career against any opponent. Helton is 10-for-28 with one homer and two doubles in his career against Tim Lincecum.

Christian Arroyo Era kicks off early after third baseman's red-hot start

Christian Arroyo Era kicks off early after third baseman's red-hot start

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants threw Christian Arroyo right into the fire. He’ll bat sixth on Monday in the season’s first meeting with the rival Dodgers, and while it’s grossly unfair, Arroyo will shoulder massive expectations given the way this season has started.

All of that should be a piece of cake given what Arroyo did early Monday afternoon. The 21-year-old convinced a skeptical mother that he was telling her the truth. 

Arroyo found out around 1:30 p.m. that his dream of reaching the big leagues had been accomplished. After shedding a few tears in Triple-A manager Dave Brundage’s office and getting congratulated by teammates, he called his mom, Kimberly. 

“She didn’t believe me,” he said, smiling. “I took a solid five minutes for her to believe me. She kept going, ‘You’re lying.’”

Arroyo’s mother is headed over from Florida, and she’ll be in the stands with other family members for Tuesday night’s game. The plan is for Arroyo to be at third base against Clayton Kershaw. The plan is for him to be at third base for years to come. 

The Giants hoped Arroyo, who doesn’t turn 22 until next month, would spend a whole season in Triple-A, dealing with the occasional failures and conditioning his body for the grind of the Major Leagues. But two things happened when Arroyo reached Triple-A after another solid spring: He hit the cover off the ball, picking up 29 hits in 65 at-bats (including four on Sunday) and the team slumped to a 6-13 record. 

Was this a case of the Giants needing a spark or Arroyo forcing his way into the lineup?

“Both,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Certainly with what he was doing down in Sacramento, he opened up a lot of eyes and we have a need right now. We’re challenged offensively. We need another guy to help out and the way he was swinging the bat made us push him more quickly than we were thinking about.”

Bochy said Arroyo will mostly play third, although he can also handle short and second. Eduardo Nuñez, the incumbent, will play primarily left field and hopefully fill the gaping hole there. Nuñez will also move around, and he is likely to play shortstop this week when Brandon Crawford goes on bereavement leave. 

The Giants are coming off a 1-4 road trip where they scored just 10 runs. There will be pressure on the top prospect to help turn this around, but Bochy doesn’t think he’ll feel it.

“He’s a tough kid,” he said. “I had fun with him today, told him don’t be scared. He said, ‘I’m pumped.’ He’s excited to be here. He just needs to be himself.”

If Arroyo can keep doing that, he’ll be fine. The Giants have always viewed him as a huge cornerstone of their future, and that was again made clear on Monday. Arroyo was given No. 22 and tucked into a locker between Brandon Belt and Brandon Crawford. Joe Panik is two lockers away. The hope is that the four lined up that way for years. 

“It’s surreal at this moment,” Arroyo said. “I’m trying to take it all in.”

Bumgarner: 'It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made'

Bumgarner: 'It’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made'

SAN FRANCISCO — Riding horses has always been part of Madison Bumgarner’s legacy, but there are times where his ride back home in North Carolina doesn’t have four legs. Bumgarner has been riding dirt bikes his whole life without incident, but a crash last week has left him facing a season of uncertainty.

Bumgarner addressed the media Monday, four days after an accident in the hills near Denver. He said he does not have a timetable for his return. The Giants have ordered more tests and expect to have a more concrete schedule by Tuesday or Wednesday. For now they are leaning on possibilities they hope to cross off. 

Bumgarner does not anticipate having surgery to repair a left shoulder sprain. He does not think this is a season-ending injury. 

“It’s hard to put a timetable on it, but I would certainly be disappointed if I wasn’t (back this season),” he said. “The only thing I’m putting my focus on now is busting my butt to rehab and make sure I’m back with the team.”

For now, that means rest and ice, and Bumgarner was scheduled to have another MRI on Monday. The Giants believe his shoulder is relatively sound structurally, and the consensus is that Bumgarner is lucky this wasn’t worse. He said the bike, a rental during the team’s off day, was similar to ones he has been on in the past. He was hours into a ride with two family members when he went down on dirt.

“I was actually being pretty safe the whole time,” Bumgarner said. “It was just a freak deal. We were on the way out, almost back to the truck … I wish I had some kind of cool story that it was some kind of crazy wreck. It wasn’t anything spectacular.”

Bumgarner has spoken to most of his teammates individually and in small groups. He understands that this is a bad look, and it’s a blow the Giants can’t afford. 

“It’s terrible. It’s obviously not my intention when I set out to enjoy the off day,” he said. “I realize it’s definitely not the most responsible decision I’ve made. It sucks not being out here with the guys.”

The Giants came home with a 6-13 record, and it was 6-10 the day Bumgarner got hurt. A night before, he had once again received no run support. Bumgarner is 0-4, but he said this was not a case of “blowing off steam” on a day off. It also is not a normal off-day activity for him, and it is not allowed under Bumgarner’s contract. 

That won’t be an issue, however. There has been no talk of punishing Bumgarner, and any attempt to get back money would be a short-sighted move by the organization. Bumgarner is vastly underpaid by today’s baseball standards, and the Giants hope to negotiate a long-term extension in the years to come. 

That deal will hinge largely on how Bumgarner recovers. The Giants cannot say for sure that Bumgarner will return as the same pitcher, because he already has a unique delivery that puts pressure on the shoulder. Trainer Dave Groeschner did not want to set expectations one way or the other, but he conceded that Bumgarner will be out “a little while.” At the very least, Bumgarner is looking at another week or two in the sling, and whenever he is cleared to throw, he will basically start his season from scratch. 

“We’ll get him back throwing, but you’ve got to build him up to 100 pitches,” Groeschner said. “That takes time in itself."

Bumgarner has built up a reservoir of goodwill over the years, allowing this lengthy process to go down a bit easier. On top of what he had accomplished before Thursday, Bumgarner pleased team officials by being forthright. He knew something was wrong, and when he returned to the team hotel in Denver he immediately called Groeschner and admitted to what he had done. Other players — including Giants — have gotten caught in lies about injuries. 

“That’s not who I am,” Bumgarner said. “If you’re going to do stuff like that, you’e got to be honest.”