Playoff decisions still loom for Bochy, Giants

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Playoff decisions still loom for Bochy, Giants

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Since the Giants are going all Hamlet on the subject of Melky Cabreras October plans, it might be time to help prod them on other players.

Say, like announcing that Matt Cain will be in the playoff rotation. Sure, that seems obvious, but it isnt official until the Giants say its official, right?

In fact, Cabrera has commanded remarkably little of Bruce Bochys thoughts down the stretch. He is the afterthoughts afterthought, a distant maybe-in-an-emergency-situation in a series the Giants have not qualified to play in yet. Apparently, we obsess so he doesnt have to.

No, he spends far more time on the rest of the jigsaw puzzle, and has spent more time on this playoff team than his five others, which when you consider the margin of divisional victory is a bit odd. More decisions should, well, make themselves.

No, this is different than the others, and not just because we clinched so early, he said after Cain shepherded the side to a 6-0 shutout of the Arizona Diamondbacks. There are a lot of things weve got to make our minds up on, and we havent made our minds up on a lot of things yet.
RECAP: Giants 6, D'backs 0

Bochy has a way of speaking in large groups that leaves great gaps between what he says and how it can be interpreted. For example, there is no guarantee that Aubrey Huff will be on the postseason roster at all, despite the assumptions of the past several days. Nor can you bank heavily on Tim Lincecum in a place of rotation honor because of his history. Nor can they say 11 pitchers or 12, or whether theyll use three catchers.

Brian and I and the staff met today, talking about different things and different ways to go, Bochy said. And were going to keep doing it in San Diego and L.A.

The biggest reason for all the meetings is that he isnt really sure of a lot of things this time. The infield is pretty well set, one would think, and with Cabreras absence the three outfield spots as well.

But the pitching staff, the strength of the team, the engine that moves the transmission, that is a profound muddle.

Cain and Madison Bumgarner will almost surely go in Games 1 and 2, no matter who the opponent might be. Theyre pretty similar teams, Bochy said of the Washingtons and Cincinnatis, so were going to go with what we think is our best rotation no matter what. The team we play wont factor in a lot, and neither will the ballpark.

But Lincecum, whose last outing Tuesday was thoroughly shambolic, is not guaranteed Game 3 just on reputation. His next start is going to be pretty important, is all Bochy would give up as information, but it says volumes in its own way.

And there is still the matter of Barry Zito v. Ryan Vogelsong, and who might be more prepared to pitch Game 4 and who might be more prepared pick up the pieces of the Lincecum start if needed. And, if Bochy doesnt have the full confidence of his rotation, whether hell need to use eight relievers against either the Nationals or the Redlegs.

In short, Bochys days are full, and not full of Melky Cabrera, either. His chances of participation, minimal though they might be, seem far more hinged to bad fortune for one of the other outfielders than it does his own eagerness to return and atone. Cabrera is our fixation, not his.

RELATED: Melky to be left off Giants' playoff roster

Besides, he has plenty of fixations already without worrying about someones fitness to play a series he cant even be sure theyll ever play.

This ones different, he says with a weary sigh, a brief profanity, and one more in a series of full face-rubs. Thats the international sign of a man who will win his division by 12 games and still looks like hes five games out with seven to play.

Baseballs a lot more fun when the decisions take care of themselves.
Ray Ratto is a columnist for CSNBayArea.com

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

D'backs release former Giants outfielder

Editor's Note: The above video was recorded following Matt Cain's perfect game in 2012.

Gregor Blanco's bid to make the Arizona Diamondbacks' Opening Day roster is over.

The former Giants outfielder was released on Monday, Arizona announced.

Blanco had been dealing with an oblique injury and had played since March 21.

In 14 Cactus League games, Blanco went 9-for-40 (.225) with one double and three triples.

Blanco spent five years with the Giants and was part of the World Series winning teams in 2012 and 2014. During his time in San Francisco, the 33-year-old hit .259/.338/.360 with 78 doubles, 24 triples and 157 RBI in 649 games.

The D'backs signed Blanco to a minor league deal in January.

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

Giants spring training Day 43: A big game for veteran trying to lock up OF job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For the first time, Gorkys Hernandez did not go back to Venezuela in the offseason to play winter ball. He's hoping that leads to another first. 

Hernandez has never made an opening day roster, but after breaking into the Giants’ outfield rotation last season, he entered the winter in a decent shot. To bolster his case, Hernandez stayed in Scottsdale over the offseason to work out at the minor league facility. The added strength didn’t lead to any notable results over the first month of games, but Hernandez broke through Monday with three doubles in the final home game of the spring.

“Sometimes (slumps) happen and sometimes you’re late (on pitches) and you don’t feel comfortable at the plate, but now I feel different. I feel better,” Hernandez said. “I’m recognizing pitches and trying to keep it simple and not do too much.”

The coaching staff has asked several players to head down to the minor league facility late in the spring and get additional at-bats, and Hernandez took Bruce Bochy up on the offer. He twice played in minor league games, and on Sunday he rotated into different games so he could get six at-bats. Hernandez said that helped him find his timing. 

“Without question, it helped his timing,” Bochy said. “He was off. He was getting out front, his timing was off. I think the at-bats he got paid off.”

The three-double day was perfectly timed. Hernandez entered with a .159 average and Justin Ruggiano, the other option as a backup center fielder, had started to put together better at-bats. Monday’s game was a reminder in more ways than one. Hernandez showed off the type of speed the Giants won’t have on the bench if Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, and he played all three outfield positions, switching from left to right to center. 

The role in play is one Gregor Blanco had for five seasons. The Giants would like Hernandez to be their defensive whiz at every outfield spot, and they’re light on true center fielders. If the Giants put Hernandez on the roster this week as expected, he’ll be ready to try and be the new Blanco. 

“If they give me that role, I’ll try to do the same thing,” he said. “Or better.”

THE ACE: Madison Bumgarner is going to Madison Bumgarner. He threw seven sharp innings Monday, lowering his spring ERA to 2.52. In 25 innings, he has allowed just 17 hits and struck out 23. Bochy appreciated Bumgarner’s intensity Monday against a Reds team that was filled with minor leaguers. 

“That’s what makes him so good,” Bochy said. “He takes every outing seriously. His preparation doesn’t waver.”

Bumgarner even added a single, and he liked that it came on a breaking ball. He’s worked on getting better at hitting those pitches, which he’s seeing more and more. 

“I feel I’m as ready as I can be to start the season,” Bumgarner said. 

His next pitch will be thrown Sunday at Chase Field. 

GAME RECAP: The Giants blasted poor Reds starter Cody Reed, hanging 10 runs on his line in 3 2/3 innings. Denard Span had two hits and Aaron Hill had three, driving in three runs. Bochy went with an interesting lineup, leading off with Span, Brandon Belt, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford. He said he likes Crawford in that five-spot. He also plans to hit the pitcher eighth on occasion.

TRAINER’S ROOM: Joe Panik was drilled by a fastball in the lower back and he came out of the game as a precaution. Panik has a nasty welt, so he’s in for a night of ice, but there are no concerns. 

QUOTABLE: Posey turned 30 today. As he walked out to stretch, Bumgarner was asked if he was giving Posey a hard time. “No, he’s been 30 for the last seven years,” Bumgarner said.