Urban: Zito reflective before a sharp rehab outing


Urban: Zito reflective before a sharp rehab outing

June 6, 2011

STOCKTON -- The box score will show that Barry Zito put up a spectacular line: 6 23 innings, two hits, zero walks, six strikeouts, and a run that scored after he left with a runner on first and two out before the reliever gave up a walk and a single to let the inherited runner in.It'll also show that he was the winning pitcher for the San Jose Giants against the host Stockton Ports in his first rehab start Monday.Yet anyone who knows a thing about Zito's relationship with most San Francisco Giants fans knows that Monday was a no-win proposition if there ever were one.Dominate and the wisecracks come all too easy.
He's finally found his niche. In Single-A. Keep him there.If only he could face 20-year-olds every time out.For that kind of money, no way he should be giving up ANY hits in the minors.Lose, or pitch poorly, and it's the same chorus he's heard for the better part of his career in Orange & Black. What a bum.That's life for Zito, and to borrow Giants manager Bruce Bochy's current favorite phrase, he knows it.But a couple of hours before carving through the Ports on 82 pitches, Zito -- wearing shorts and a t-shirt while watching his young temporary teammates go through BP on the field below the bridge on which he stood at Banner Island Ballpark -- seemed at peace with the strange and uncertain place he finds his career these days."I'm fired up," he said. "This is going to be fun. I've missed pitching a ton, man. And this environment, where it's just baseball, none of the outside stuff, I love it."It showed. He didn't pitch mad, despite surely being aware that Bochy had the day before made it clear that Zito's rotation replacement "isn't going anywhere." He pitched with body language that reflected his pregame comments.His delivery was smooth, easy, crisp. Most of his pitches were on the black, and quite a few of them vintage curveballs. The Ports looked clueless most of the night; Zito faced one over the minimum thanks to a pair of double-play balls.His velocity was nothing to crow about; the stadium radar gun was clearly off, flashing 76 on a few fastballs, but it certainly wasn't 12 or 14 mph slow. One scout with his own gun said Zito's fastball sat between 84-86 most of the night, a slight improvement over what he was featuring before he sprained a ligament and landed on the disabled list on April 16.After the game Zito expressed very little interest in the gun, which at one point had one of his breaking balls at 54 mph.No, Zito has not developed an eephus pitch. The gun was just a little whacked out."It was showing some strange things up there," Zito said with a smile. "What it says isn't really a big deal to me, anyway. The ball felt great coming out of my hand and I knew where it was going. I've been working on some command things, so it was nice to see it working."He acknowledged that it was nice to get a standing ovation as he walked off the mound, too, but not because it provided what he calls a "dig-me moment."For in that moment, Vogelsong didn't matter. His standing with the Giants didn't matter. Where he heads next or for how long (no clue on either count, by the way) didn't matter, either.
"It was just a fun night," he said.
No matter what the hecklers are sure to say.

Lynch, Shanahan hold 'positive' discussion with Kaepernick

Lynch, Shanahan hold 'positive' discussion with Kaepernick

General manager John Lynch confirmed during a radio interview that he and 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan met with quarterback Colin Kaepernick at his office Wednesday morning at the team headquarters in Santa Clara.

“I would characterize it as just a really positive discussion,” Lynch said during an appearance on KNBR, confirming a CSNBayArea.com report the sides met for the first time since Lynch and Shanahan were hired in their new roles.

Lynch said he and Shanahan have committed to being completely honest with Kaepernick, who can opt out of his contract to become an unrestricted free agent as early as next week.

Lynch did not divulge the topics of conversation. He said a commitment was also made to Kaepernick to not speak publicly about the specifics of their conversations.

“I do think that there are some things that are sacred,” Lynch said. “We did have a great discussion and I think Colin left excited and we left excited.

“And I think as Kyle and I believe, the evaluation process is still very much fluid. We’ve only been on the job a couple of weeks and I can tell you we both very much enjoyed being around Colin, and he seems like he’s in a real good place.”

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

Giants spring training Day 10: Bochy on board with new rules

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — During his season managing Barry Bonds, Bruce Bochy watched the slugger get intentionally walked 43 times. 

“There were (managers) who had the (signal) up before he even got to the batter’s box,” Bochy said Wednesday. 

That’s part of the reason Bochy is completely on board with a new rule stating that managers only have to signal for an intentional walk. The elimination of the four pitches has been approved by MLB and the MLBPA, with the caveat that a manager can change his mind in the middle of the plate appearance. 

“I’m fine with it,” Bochy said. “I know a few pitchers are happy because they kind of have a thing about throwing (those pitches), not on our team, but last year it happened to us and we didn’t go. I’m fine with it.”

It’s rare that an intentional ball would go to the backstop, but the Giants experienced it last year against the Yankees. Dellin Betances threw wide as he tried to put Brandon Crawford on and Angel Pagan didn’t react quickly enough to score from third. 

Bochy met with league officials last week to go over some of the new rules and ideas, and he said he wants MLB to keep pushing to cut the time of games. 

“We talk about it so much but we really haven’t done a lot,” Bochy said. “I’m all for (limiting mound visits). I’m all for it, I am. It’s gotten more and more popular in the game. It used to be the catcher, and now it’s the catcher and infielders, and they go to the mound and come back and then the pitching coach goes out there.”

EXHIBITION SCHEDULE: Bochy said Madison Bumgarner is currently slated to start Friday’s Cactus League opener, with Matt Cain also throwing an inning. Ty Blach will start Saturday, Matt Moore and Tyler Beede will pitch Sunday, and Jeff Samardzija will start Monday. It’s possible that 18 or 20 different pitchers will take the mound over the first two days since almost all of them will be scheduled for just three outs. With the exception of Will Smith, every projected Giant should see the field this weekend. Hunter Pence is the only guy who has been held back at all, but his intercostal issue has cleared up. Pence put several on the left-field berm during BP on Wednesday.

“Hunter wants to (play Friday). He's ready to go,” Bochy said. “I’ll make that call tomorrow once I talk to the staff, but Hunter assured me he’s a full go with no limitations, and he really wants to play.”

PROSPECT WATCH: Bochy took the van over to the minor league facility to watch some of the projected Triple-A players take part in live BP. Jae-gyun Hwang hit a homer off Jose Dominguez during his session. 

“He’s a guy that rotates (well) and he’s got good power,” Bochy said. “He can go the other way. He’s got some bat control. He’s got a nice swing.”

Over on the main field, Gorkys Hernandez hit an impressive homer to left-center. 

ICYMI: From this morning, Smith is being held out of workouts. Reporters spoke to him in the afternoon and he said there’s no concern. Also, here’s a podcast with Derek Law and Josh Osich. Subscribe on iTunes if you haven’t … there’s a very popular Giant coming soon.

QUOTABLE: Smith missed time last season because he tore a knee ligament while taking his shoe off, so this spring’s speed bump is somewhat easier to take. He had a message for the trainers: “I said I’m going to sit down every day this spring,” when I take my shoes off.