Urban: Tejada reclaims starting job at SS


Urban: Tejada reclaims starting job at SS

July 18, 2011


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Mychael Urban

Saddled with an inconsistent offense missing its two most pure hitters and featuring precious few steady contributors, Giants manager Bruce Bochy doesn't have the luxury of running out the same lineup day after day. As a result, he has no choice but to play whatever hot hand he might have on any given day. He's used those very words -- "hot hand" -- countless times this season, to the point that you can see him struggling to write out his lineup card every afternoon while fumbling to wrap oven mitts around his pen or pencil.He used them again Monday before the opener of a three-game series against the visiting Dodgers at AT&T Park in explaining why Miguel Tejada, who lost his starting job at shortstop when rookie Brandon Crawford came up from the minors sporting a scalding stick to match his slick glove, has essentially reclaimed that job."He's earned it," Bochy said of Tejada, who was signed to a one-year deal worth 6.5 million last November 30. "I like the way he's swinging the bat, and this gives us a chance to give 'Craw' a little bit of a break."Tejada, 37, was a massive disappointment in the season's first two months, batting .217 with little pop through June 1 while displaying little of the range and athleticism that made him one of the better shortstops in baseball during his prime years with the Oakland A's. The 2002 American League MVP has since turned things around a bit at the plate, however, batting .286 with seven doubles, three homers and 10 RBIs, and he's been particularly strong in July, batting .341 (14-for-41) with two doubles, two homers and six RBIs in 12 games through Sunday.Crawford, meanwhile, is mired in a 1-for-21 slump over his past six games through Sunday -- including 0-for-9 in the just-concluded four-game series in San Diego, where Tejada went 3-for-10 with a home run."I'm searching a little bit," Crawford said. "But we're working on some things, me and hitting coach Hensley Meulens, and I think we're heading in the right direction."Special instructor Shawon Dunston said Tejada, even while sitting on the bench behind Crawford, has served as something of a mentor and one-man cheer squad for the rookie."Miggy's good for Brandon, no matter who's playing," Dunston said. "I wish every young player had a guy like Miggy to help show 'em the ropes."Tejada's defense remains a concern; he's made eight errors for a .945 fielding percentage in 36 games at shortstop, faring better during his 42 games at third base while Pablo Sandoval was out and in four games at second base recently. Crawford, 24, has made seven errors for a .960 fielding percentage in 40 games at shortstop since his promotion on May 26.But unless there's a situation in which a double switch makes sense, don't expect Crawford to be used as a late-game defensive replacement."Rarely will I do that with a young player, especially a rookie," Bochy said of a one-for-one defensive swap late in a tight game. "It's not that easy for a young player to come off the bench like that late in a game, come into a tight ballgame where the pressure's on. Miggy'll have to find ways to get it done unless there's a double switch."Monday marked the second consecutive game in which Tejada, a right-handed hitter, got the nod at shortstop over Crawford, a lefty hitter, with a righty on the mound for the opponent.
UPDATE: Tejada suffered a lower abdominal strain while failing to field a ground ball in the hole in the third inning Monday and was immediately removed from the game; Crawford replaced him.
Dribblers : Bochy said no decision has been made on whether the team will skip Barry Zito's turn in the rotation Friday to keep the rest of the starters on regular rest. Were that move made, and given the Giants have this Thursday and next Monday off, Zito might not be needed to start a game until the July 29-31 series at Cincinnati. A decision could be announced as early as Monday night after the game. Lefty Jonathan Sanchez (biceps tendinitis) will make his next rehab start Friday for Triple-A Fresno. Asked if Brian Wilson might wear his skin-tight latex tuxedo to the White House on Monday, Bochy smiled and said, "I don't think they'd let him in."

Hoesen leads the ways as Earthquakes take down Real Salt Lake


Hoesen leads the ways as Earthquakes take down Real Salt Lake


SAN JOSE — Danny Hoesen scored his second goal of the season and assisted on Marco Urena's second goal, lifting the San Jose Earthquakes to a 2-1 victory over Real Salt Lake on Saturday night.

Hoesen opened the scoring in the 13th minute, off a long cross from Nick Lima. After touching the ball down, Hoesen gathered it off a defender's foot, stepped inside and unleashed a left footer into the top corner from just off the penalty spot.

Hoesen's long through ball down the right side sent Urena free and from a tight angle he rolled the ball past Nick Rimando in the 68th minute.

San Jose (6-6-5), which has battled injuries and call-ups to score just 16 goals in 16 games, won for just the second time in its last seven games.

Lima picked up two yellow cards in the second half and the Quakes played a man down from the 71st minute.

David Bingham made only one save in each half but was denied his seventh shutout when Jose Hernandez scored his second goal in the fourth minute of stoppage time for Salt Lake (5-11-2).

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

Latest round of bullpen auditions go poorly in Giants' 50th loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Practically speaking, the 50th loss is no different than the one before or the one after, but this sport is built on milestones, and this one came quickly.

The Giants lost their 50th game on August 12 last year. This season, it was clinched when Ryder Jones grounded out in his fourth career at-bat, handing the Mets a 5-2 win on June 24. 

Bruce Bochy called losing 50 of your first 77 games "hard to believe" and "embarrassing." Johnny Cueto, who went seven strong, said the reality was "hard and sad." Brandon Belt, who got Cueto off the hook for a loss, agreed with his manager.

"That's a pretty good word to use -- it is embarrassing to come out and lose every day, especially with the group of guys we have," Belt said. "When you're losing as much as this, it is embarrassing. We're trying to do whatever we can to turn this thing around."

Lately, that has meant changes to the roster. It is officially audition season, and in that respect, it was not a particularly inspiring day for the bullpen. The Giants felt they would have a better mix this year, but it hasn't played out. Instead, they're once again trying to find pieces for the next successful Giants bullpen.

With Hunter Strickland suspended and Derek Law in the minors, two young relievers, a middle-innings stalwart, and a newcomer pitched the final two frames. They gave up four runs.

Sam Dyson was the first on the mound in the eighth. Belt had homered a few minutes earlier, tying a good starter's duel. Dyson gave up a leadoff triple to Curtis Granderson and walked Asdrubal Cabrera before throwing two good sliders past Yoenis Cespedes for the strikeout. With two lefties coming up and the go-ahead run still on third, Bochy turned to Steven Okert. He immediately gave up a seeing-eye RBI single to Jay Bruce. Wilmer Flores doubled off George Kontos later in the frame to make it 3-1. 

In the ninth, Kyle Crick showed some of the wildness that kept him in the minors for seven years. He, too, gave up a leadoff triple, a sin you always pay for. A walk helped put another run into scoring position and a wild pitch extended the Mets’ lead to four. 

Before the game, Bochy talked of getting an extended look at Jones. He was 0-for-4 in his first big league game but he’ll be back out there tomorrow. It’s time to fight for a job, and the same holds true of some relievers who didn’t fare well Saturday. It is a group with a closer locked into a longterm deal and little else decided. 

Are Strickland or Law eighth-inning guys? Will Dyson be a worthwhile reclamation project? Will Kontos be back, and will he carve out a different role? Are Okert and Josh Osich capable of giving Bochy lefties he trusts? Is Crick’s improvement in Triple-A a sign of things to come? There are many questions to be answered over the next three months. 

“This is a good time for them, this is what players get up here for, to show what they can do,” Bochy said. “Because of our situation, we’re going to take a look at these guys and we know there are going to be growing pains.”