Programming note: Rockies-Giants coverage starts today at 12:30 p.m. with Giants Pregame Live on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SAN FRANCISCO – Giants manager Bruce Bochy is sitting Brandon Hicks this weekend, but he isn’t ready to quit on the struggling second baseman.
Bochy met with Hicks Saturday morning and told him to take it easy for a few days. He’ll return Hicks to the lineup Tuesday when the Giants begin a two-game road interleague series against the Chicago White Sox.
“I’ll back him off for a couple days, let him catch his breath and clear his head,” Bochy said. “He’s fighting it, pressing. He won’t start today or tomorrow. He’s just going through a tough time. Sometimes less is more.”
Hicks’ sub-.200 average had been tolerable because he was drawing walks and hitting home runs. But he hasn’t homered since May 23, and in 18 games since then, he’s batting .127 with 26 strikeouts in 55 at-bats.
Hicks struck out three times as the No.7 hitter Friday night, including two rally-killing at-bats against Jorge De La Rosa.
Bochy said Ehire Adrianza is in the lineup at second base Saturday over Joaquin Arias mostly because Adrianza has more range at the position. It’s become clear the Giants prefer to use Arias on the left side of the infield.
I asked Bochy: because Hicks doesn’t have much of a major league track record, how do you determine whether there are any more unpopped kernels left in the bag? Have you already gotten everything you’ll get?
“What’s important is you stay behind the player,” Bochy said. “He’s done a great job for us. He’s been a shot in the arm. He’s not letting it affect his defense. You know these guys will hit bumps in the road and that’s when you stay behind him.”
The Giants don’t want to bring up Joe Panik because he’s coming off two disappointing minor league seasons and they want him to have more than two-plus good months at Triple-A. Also, Panik is not on the 40-man roster and neither Hicks nor Adrianza has a minor league option. When you’re 18 games over .500, there’s no urgency to make moves – especially moves that will cost you inventory you might need later.
I’ve heard the outcry over Adrianza, who hasn’t shown much at the plate and botched a rundown that allowed the Rockies to score a run Friday night. But if something were to happen to Brandon Crawford, the Giants have almost no minor league depth at shortstop. Adrianza is a plus defender there, at least.
So Hicks still has a regular outlet for playing time … for now.
“He’s not going to be on the bench (for long),” Bochy said. “We’ve got nothing happening right now. I’ve said this: If you’re forced to make any tweak, you do it. But right now, he’s our guy.”
The July 31 non-waiver deadline is still more than six weeks away, so a lot can happen between now and then. You can bet this, though: second base is more of a trade priority this week than it was last week.
Hicks had perhaps his worst game at the plate as a Giant in Friday night’s loss. He couldn’t put the ball in play in the second inning with two runners in scoring position and one out, which gave the Rockies an escape hatch. They intentionally walked No.8 hitter Adrianza, retired Tim Lincecum despite a feisty eight-pitch at-bat and got out of the inning without allowing a run.
In the third, Hicks had a 3-0 count against an obviously ailing Jorge De La Rosa, but eventually struck out to strand two runners. De La Rosa didn’t return for the fourth. He left the game with back spasms.
As for the bullpen, Bochy said he expected Sergio Romo to be available but would check with Dave Righetti since Romo has thrown 37 pitches over the previous two games. There is no closer controversy here, nor should there be.
In other pregame news. Troy Tulowitzki is out of the lineup because of a sprained toe he injured while running down the line in the ninth inning Friday night. So the Rockies are without Tulo, Carlos Gonzalez, Michael Cuddyer and their starting pitcher is an injury replacement as well.
Losing three of four to the Nationals was no great crime, the way they were playing. Losing a home series to this depleted Rockies club would be a massive missed opportunity, though.