Urban: Scouts high on newest Giant Keppinger


Urban: Scouts high on newest Giant Keppinger

July 20, 2011


Follow @MUrbanCSN
Mychael Urban

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jeff Keppinger didn't arrive at the Home of the Ring on King until about 1:50 p.m. Wednesday, delaying his highly anticipated first start in orange and black.No matter. That merely provided more time to do a little digging on the guy who, at the very least, will be keeping second base warm until Freddy Sanchez makes a triumphant return to the Giants' lineup. At worst, in this case represented by potential complications from a potential Sanchez shoulder surgery, he's your starting second baseman for the start of 2012.
URBAN: Giants' Keppinger deal solid if unspectacular
This was no archeological dig in an exotic locale, mind you. For hours before every game at AT&T Park, you'll find three or four big-league scouts lounging in the press box, prepping their paperwork, swapping stories and generally solving every problem from Questec to the draft slotting system to the baffling selection of random hosts on the once-great The View.

They're more than happy to entertain any questions an industrious media type might have of a player on whom they have an opinion, and that covers pretty much every player who's strapped it on.Urban Shocker, for instance? Yeah, flexible guy, the scouts will tell you. Plus command. Nice little slide-piece. Character issues early but matured into plus makeup. Don't ask 'em how they know. Shocker's last season was in 1928. They just do. They're scouts. Come on.They know about Keppinger, too, and it would have been nice to record their thoughts on the guy for all Giants fans to hear. Alas, as much as scouts love to talk about any and all players, when it comes to being identified, they're downright Hughsian. Everything has to be anonymous.Not off-the-record. Anonymous. And here's what they had to say about Keppinger on Thursday before Clayton Kershaw and Tim Lincecum locked horns in one of those rare pitching matchups that actually lived up to the hype.
RECAP: Kershaw outduels Lincecum in 1-0 Giants loss
Scout 1: "Kepp's a nice little player; I call him Kepp. Saw him at Georgia when I was a cross-checker. Liked him then, like him now."Scout 2: "I like him more now. He's filled out real nice."Scout 1: "Filled out, yeah. Still can't hit one out of my kid's Legion ball yard, though."Scout 3: "That's not the type of hitter he is, anyway. He's a slash and burn guy. Real aggressive. Doesn't even look to hit for power, it seems."Scout 2: "It's in there, though. He'll jump up and bite you here and there if you try to sneak 3-1 past his belt."Scout 3: "Has he even worked a 3-1 count? I haven't seen many of those with him. He's up there to hit. Look at his on-base. Not a big walker."Scout 1: "Not a big strikeout guy, either. Hardest guy to strike out in the league, I read today in one of the papers here."Scout 2: "You can read?"Scout 1: "I can read your mind. You're thinking about your next meal. I suggest a salad, porky."Scout 3: "Look at Mr. Universe giving dietary advice."Guys, guys. Can we re-focus here? Keppinger, remember? How's his D?Scout 2: "Better than most people think. He'll make the routines. Solid fundamentally. Won't hurt you. Almost never."Scout 1: "Won't be on Plays of the Week very often, though, either. He's what I like to call a base defender; athletic enough to make the plays you need to win and move around the diamond a little bit, but not athletic enough to save your ass very often."Scout 3: "Make enough routines and you're saving enough asses as it is."Scout 2: "Especially with this pitching staff. The Giants don't need highlight plays. They need plays, period. Freddy Sanchez isn't a highlight machine, either."Scout 1: "But Kepp's no Freddy Sanchez."Scout 2: "No, but he's similar in that he's solid, scrappy, hard-nosed like Sanchez."Scout 3: "Not as good a hitter as Sanchez, either."Scout 2: "Yeah, but he's not that far off. He can handle the two-hole like Sanchez, and he's gonna get you a bunch of hits."Scout 1: "Or at least hits in bunches."Scout 3: "Yeah. A little streaky. But aren't we all?"Scout 2: "Still waiting for you to get hot, actually. When's that gonna happen, anyway?"Scout 1: "Same time Kepp hits his 25th homer -- never. Nice little player, though. Giants did well on this."

Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday


Giants Notes: Span feeling better, hopes to return to lineup Wednesday

CHICAGO -- Joe Panik's leadoff homer in the series opener was a jolt, but the Giants are a much more dangerous offense when Denard Span is clicking atop the lineup, a spot ahead of Panik, and they hope to have that duo going Wednesday. Span got treatment all day Tuesday and said he could return to the lineup against Kyle Hendricks. 

"The swelling has gone down," Span said of his sprained left thumb. "The thing to do is to come in tomorrow, test it out, and if it feels good, you strap it on."

Span said an X-ray came back clean, but he didn't grab a bat Tuesday to test the thumb, focusing instead on treatment. He is batting .326 in nine games since coming off the DL. His replacement in center this week, Gorkys Hernandez, was 0-for-3 against Jon Lester, lowering his average to .160. 

--- The main story from the second game of this series: Johnny Cueto is now dealing with a second blister, and you can see the lack of movement on his pitches. The Cubs took advantage. Lester didn't need much help while throwing a 99-pitch complete game in two hours and five minutes. 

"He threw a lot more changeups than we've seen in the past," Buster Posey said. "He's shown it in the past but tonight he had good command of it. It wasn't just a show-me pitch. He used it a lot and threw it to lefties as well.

Posey twice grounded short rollers in front of the plate.

--- Posey's throw to nab Javy Baez on Monday was one of the best of the year, and on Tuesday afternoon, Bruce Bochy said, "If he's given a chance, I don't think there's anyone better in the game." That might be true, but Willson Contreras is threatening to get into the conversation. He threw an 85 mph rocket to second in the fifth to nab Eduardo Nuñez. If you're wondering how Lester -- who flat-out has the yips about throwing to first base and doesn't do it -- has allowed just six stolen bases this season, look no further than his young catcher. Long-term, Contreras is the guy I would expect to compete with Posey for Gold Gloves. 

"Nuney, with his speed, can go," Bochy said. "Their catcher made a great throw. Put it right on the money."

--- From before Tuesday's game, what do the relievers think of the new hidden bullpen at Wrigley? And if you missed the Power Rankings the other day, the records are outdated, but there are updates in here on old friends Matt Duffy, Chris Heston, Tommy Joseph, Adalberto Mejia, Yusmeiro Petit and others. Petit in particular is incredible ... just keeps doing his thing. 

--- This play was made by the shortstop. That's good for the old UZR.

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

Injuries to Hahn, Alonso compound A's loss to Marlins

OAKLAND — Their pitching staff got banged up throughout the night, but the A’s hope the only lasting damage they absorbed Tuesday night was on the scoreboard.

In the process of an 11-9 defeat to the Miami Marlins, they lost starting pitcher Jesse Hahn to a strained triceps and first baseman Yonder Alonso to a contusion on his right hand and wrist.

The early diagnosis showed they may have dodged a bullet with Alonso — X-rays came back negative for a fracture after he was hit flush in the wrist area on a pitch from lefty Jarlin Garcia. Alonso initially walked off the field after being hit, but after a few moments re-emerged and took first base to run. He was replaced on defense in the seventh.

“I’ve had some history with my hand,” Alonso said afterward. “I broke it three or four years ago. At the time when I got hit, I felt like that was the case all over again. The pain started going away, that’s when I realized I think I’m OK.”

Alonso’s wrist and hand began to swell while he was running the bases, and he had to exit the game. The first baseman had missed the four previous games with a sore left knee, then proceeded to homer in his first at-bat Tuesday, pulling him back into a tie with Khris Davis for the team homer lead at 13. Suffering another injury in the same game could be classified as rotten timing, but Alonso came away feeling fortunate all things considered.

“I think we got very lucky,” he said. “It got me right on the wrist but a little bit on the hand as well. We’re lucky that there’s no break. You just gotta move forward.”

Manager Bob Melvin said Alonso would be a game-time decision for whether he’ll start Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, but with the A’s off Thursday, it wouldn’t be a surprise if they rested Alonso in an attempt to let him heal up for Friday’s road trip opener against the Yankees.

Hahn’s condition seems more ambiguous, and perhaps more troubling. He said he felt fine warming up before Tuesday’s game, but when he took the mound to warm up before the third, he experienced a drop in velocity and couldn’t figure out why.

“I experienced some tightness near my triceps and a big velocity decrease,” Hahn said. “The ball wasn’t coming out (well) at all. It was a weird feeling. I’ve dealt with elbow (problems) before. Usually for me when I have elbow pain I can feel it on my pitches, and I didn’t feel it. It was kinda weird. … It almost felt like a dead arm.”

Hahn gave up a leadoff single to Christian Yelich in the third, then was taken out of the game. Afterward, he and the training staff discussed the possibility of getting an MRI but nothing had been set in stone.

“I’m throwing the ball as hard as I can and I see 89-90 on the board,” Hahn said. “I know something’s not right. But at the same time, I’m not feeling anything. It leaves you thinking. To be in that state of mind on the mound is not good.”

Should the A’s need to fill Hahn’s rotation spot the next time through, and should they want to dip into the minor league ranks, Daniel Mengden is on the same turn with Triple-A Nashville and threw seven scoreless innings Tuesday (81 pitches). He’s on the 40-man roster. Jharel Cotton and Daniel Gossett also are coming off great outings for Nashville, though their turns in the rotation don’t line up as good with Hahn’s.