Category: Dailies

Trying to stay positive

We’re going to try to stay positive in the post in the wake of the Giants’ 7-1 loss to the Indians on Thursday night.

We’re not going to discuss on the fact that the loss was the Giants’ fourth consecutive or that it was their sixth in the past seven games.

We’re not going to talk about on the fact that including Monday’s rained out 2 1/2 innings, the Giants have been outscored 20-1 over the last 20+ innings.

We’re not going to focus on how the Giants’ starting right fielder will open the season on the DL, and their closer may soon be joining him.

We’re not even going to think about how the Giants’ recent play left a frustrated Bruce Bochy to comment: “We’re not doing anything well now these last five games — pitching, hitting, baserunning (he didn’t mention fielding). We’ve got to pick it up. It’s been a great camp and we’re due to have a lull, but it’s too close to the season to make the mistakes we’re making.”

No, we’re going to ignore all those things as we try to accentuate the positive. So here we go.

Barry Zito. Zito has another solid outing. In fact, it was a quality start, pitching six innings and giving up two earned runs. He gave four runs total on seven hits. More importantly, he only gave up one walk and struck out five.

Miguel Tejada. Much has been made about the veteran’s shortstops struggles at the plate and in the field this spring. But hopefully, Thursday was the sign that Tejada is ready to ramp things up for the regular season. Tejada belted his first home run of the spring and only his second extra-base hit. He also made a nice barehanded play while charging an infield grounder, getting the out with an off-balance throw that ended with a somersault on the infield grass. “When I make a play like that, I think it tells me my legs are ready to go,” Tejada said.

Buster Posey. Posey went 1 for 2 with a walk. His spring average is .415. Watch out, Ted Williams!

Jeremy Affeldt. The left-handed reliever gave up just one hit in a scoreless inning of work. His spring ERA is 0.96.

Dan Runzler. The lefty is making his strong push to make the big club by setting the side down in order in the ninth. His spring ERA is 2.57.

Opening day. The season opener is less than a week away. Is there any better news than that?

No Cody for three weeks; time to consider options

No one needed to know the results of the MRI on Cody Ross’  calf to know the outfielder would not be opening the season with the Giants next week.

Ross, who injured his calf fielding a routine fly ball on Wednesday, showed up at Giants training camp Thursday in a walking boot and using a crutch. 

The Giants then announced that Ross had suffered a moderate strain of the right calf and he would be sidelined for three weeks.

Initial hopes were that Ross would need a couple of days to heal and be ready for the March 31 opener against the Dodgers.

And even the briefest of possible stints on the disabled list might still allow Ross to be in the lineup for the Giants’ home opener April 8 against the Cardinals.

But Thursday’s news now sets Ross’ earliest possible debut as April 15.

So now it’s time to consider options.

AARON ROWAND: The most plausible replacement option would be Rowand playing center field, with Andres Torres playing right. Rowand has played a little left field this spring, but playing right — particularly at AT&T Park — is a different story. The Giants likely would be better off with Torres in right. And with the Giants slated to face a pair of lefties — Clayton Kershaw and Ted Lilly — in the opening series in LA, the right-handed hitting Rowand seems a natural fit.

NATE SCHIERHOLTZ: Schierholtz has gone from being about a week away from being dealt away by the Giants to being almost a virtual lock to make the club. Given that, it’s doubtful that the left-handed hitting outfielder would be the first choice to replace Ross in the regular lineup, but he could get some starts against right-handed pitchers.


AUBREY HUFF/BRANDON BELT: A third option to consider is to move Aubrey Huff to right field and play Brandon Belt at first base. It had been considered to start Huff in left and Belt and first, sending Pat Burrell to the bench. But Ross’ injury may necessitate considering Huff for right field.

Hank Schulman of the SF Chronicle tweeted that the Belt option is being considered, but also added: “Everyone is pulling for Rowand.”

So it sounds as if the Giants are leaning toward the Rowand option early in the season. It may not be popular with Giants followers. But it’s the smart move.

Imagine if this injury had taken place the first week of the season and that the final roster cuts had already been made. Schierholtz may have been playing for someone else, and the Giants’ options would be seriously limited right.

Sabean also said that no more cuts will be made until the team returns to the Bay Area next week.

No doubt. I mean, heaven forbid, but what if someone else gets hurt.

Giant bummer of a day

Trying to find some good news out of spring training camp Wednesday for the San Francisco Giants would take some searching.

It was a bad day all around. Hopefully, in a couple of days, it won’t seem so bad. But we’ll see.

It started with Brian Wilson throwing in the bullpen and eventually being told to stop after a few minutes.

Where that puts Wilson’s status for opening day next week depends on who you ask.
codyhurt.jpg
Wilson gave the impression that Wednesday’s workout was just another step on the road to getting ready. But manager Bruce Bochy said the Giants would not rush to get Wilson ready for the opener, suggesting that he may open the season on the disabled list.

“We’re running short on time,” Bochy said. “This isn’t the time to rush Willie back.”

Then, when the game started against the Angels, Matt Cain got tagged for five first-inning runs in his second start back from elbow inflammation.

The bad inning started with a swinging bunt single by Erick Aybar. Howie Kendrick singled sharply up the middle. Then Bobby Abreu hit an 0-2 pitch over the right-field fence for a three-run homer. After Torii Hunter walked and stole second, Cain got Vernon Wells and Albert Callaspo to fly out (more on the second out later). Mark Trumbo followed with deep double to left-center to score Hunter. Trumbo then scored on a single by Jeff Mathis.

In the second and third innings, Cain surrendered no runs on two hits, no walks and two strikeouts.

The good news is that Cain said he felt good after the start, encouraged that he felt as strong at the end of his three innings as he did at the start. But he added he was “out of rhythm” which caused some pitches to leak out over the plate.

It was the third consecutive uneven start by Giants pitchers, following Madison Bumgarner’s rough start Sunday against the A’s, and Tim Lincecum’s outing Monday against the Rockies in a game that was eventually called for rain.

The end result Wednesday was an 8-0 loss to the Angels, the third consecutive loss for the Giants and the fourth in their last five games.

But the biggest loss Wednesday was that off right fielder Cody Ross. Ross suffered a strained calf on a fairly routine fly ball off the bat of Callaspo.

Ross limped off the field on his own power and went for an MRI. The Giants announced late Wednesday that Ross had sustained a strained calf. Just how long he’ll be sidelined likely won’t be know until Thursday.

It’s funny how quickly things can change. Last week, the season couldn’t start quickly enough for the Giants. And now, they wouldn’t mind a few more days to get ready.

But the season is rapidly approaching.

Barry Zito will take the mound as the Giants face the Indians Thursday night. Madison Bumgarner makes his final Cactus League start Friday night against the Royals.

Saturday is a split-squad day, with a day game against the Reds and a nightcap vs. the Indians. Lincecum is due to make his final spring start, but we’re not sure which game he will pitch. Jonathan Sanchez will cap the Arizona portion of the spring schedule against the Royals on Sunday.

On Monday, the Giants return home to open a three-game set against the A’s. Cain would pitch Monday at AT&T Park; Zito goes Tuesday in Oakland and Bumgarner would pitch Wednesday afternoon back at AT&T before the team heads to LA to open the 2011 season at Dodger Stadium on Thursday.

Six good reasons why Giants don’t need to strap on Belt

Bruce Bochy caused a stir Sunday when he started Brandon Belt at first base and Aubrey Huff in left field during a split-squad game against the Oakland A’s.

It was the first time this spring that Huff has played left field, leading many to speculate that the Giants are strongly considering having Belt open the season with the Giants and not the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.

Bochy has said all spring that if Belt stays with the big club to open the season, he would need to play every day. And for that to happen, he would need to outperform Pat Burrell — the presumed starter in left field — this spring.

So let’s look at the numbers.

Belt — 14-for-52 (.269), 9 runs, 5 doubles, 2 HR, 10 RBI, 4 BB (.321 OBP).

Burrell — 10-for-39 (.256), 6 runs, 3 doubles, 2 HR, 7 RBI, 7 BB (.370 OBP).

brandon.jpgSo, from those numbers, Belt has not outperformed Burrell this spring. But the way Belt has hit the ball, even his outs have been loud this spring, giving the Giants a moment of pause before making their final roster decisions.

“I’ll see where we are this coming week. You may see it again,” Bochy said of the Belt/Huff defensive alignment.

While the thought of Belt in the everyday Giants lineup may be tantalizing to some Giants fans, there are several good reasons why he should open the season in Fresno.

THE GIANTS DON’T NEED HIM: Last year, the big cry to get Buster Posey up to the big club was fueled by the Giants’ offensive shortcomings. It was frustrating to watch Posey rake at Fresno while the Giants were losing games 2-1 or 1-0. But the lineup the Giants will send out to start 2011 is basically the same one that won the World Series last fall. So there’s no burning need to push Belt quicker than necessary.

ORGANIZATIONAL DEPTH: The Giants already will face a decision in the next week to unload Nate Schierholtz or Travis Ishikawa. Barring an injury, there won’t be room on the 25-man roster for both, and both players are out of minor-league options. However, if Belt makes the big club, the Giants would need to part with both Schierholtz and Ishikawa. Then what happens if someone goes on the DL? Who do the Giants call on from Fresno to fill that hole? What if Belt show he’s not ready to hit in the majors? Success during the spring doesn’t always translate into success in the regular season. If Belt gets sent back to Triple-A, who do the Giants call on to replace him if Ishikawa and Schierholtz are playing elsewhere?

PLAYING BELT MEANS SOMEONE ELSE SITS:  As it is, the Giants already have more outfielders than starting outfield spots. Pat Burrell looks to be the frontrunner to get most of the starts in left field. But we could easily see Aaron Rowand and Mark DeRosa get some outfield starts during the week. But if Belt is starting at first, then Huff starts in left. That buries Burrell on the bench. We know how Pat the Bat struggled as a DH in Tampa. How might we expect him to fare as a pinch-hitter or an occasional starter in left?

MIDSEASON SPARK: We can’t underscore the spark that Buster Posey brought to the Giants’ lineup when he got called up last season. If Belt opens in Fresno, he could provide a similar midseason spark if the Giants’ offense slumps in 2011.

RELIEVES PRESSURE FROM BELT: If Belt opens at Fresno and gets a midseason call, it would be a less stressful indoctrination to the majors than putting him in the opening day lineup and having to deal with the pressure that would go along with that. Belt appears to be the kind of player who could deal with those pressures. But if the Giants don’t need him, it would be better to put him in the best environment to succeed. And that may be very well be at Fresno to open the season.

THE ARBITRATION CLOCK: If Belt opens the season in the majors (and stays there all season), he would be eligible for arbitration after the 2013 season. At that time, the Giants would also be dealing with the arbitration cases of Buster Posey and Madison Bumgarner. Added to that, Tim Lincecum and Brian Wilson would be potential free agents after the 2013 season. Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez would be potential free agents after 2012. That would be a lot of money for the Giants to shell out, perhaps too much to keep all those players. However, if Belt remains in the minors to open the season, the Giants could potentially push his arbitration eligibility to after the 2014 season.

The Freak messes around and gets a Triple Double-Double

Not sure what to make of this, but apparently Tim Lincecum often gets a big case of the munchies.

In a USA Today article last week,  the Giants right-hander revealed that he is a regular at In-N-Out burger. No surprise there. I mean, that IS what a hamburger is all about.

But when we heard what Lincecum orders regularly at his visits to In-N-Out, even MoreSplashHits was taken aback.

Lincecum says his order includes three Double-Doubles, two orders of fries and one chocolate-strawberry shake.

doubles.jpgAll tallied, that order comes to 3,150 calories. And that doesn’t even include the lettuce and tomatoes, which Lincecum holds from his Double-Doubles.

“I’m not a big vegetable guy,” Lincecum told USA Today’s Bob Nightengale.

Lincecum also holds the cheese from his burgers, which technically doesn’t make it a Double-Double. Double-Doubles get their names from double patties, double cheese.

MoreSplashHits understands Lincecum’s love for In-N-Out. In my younger days while growing up in Southern California, my friends and I would regularly attend Friday night games at Dodger Stadium. Afterwards, we would make a pilgrimage to In-N-Out — or Original Tommy’s for chili cheesburgers (let’s home Lincecum doesn’t discover Tommy’s).

In-N-Out is one thing MoreSplashHits misses about Southern California after living in the Pacific Northwest for the past two decades.

But even in our best days (or worst, depending on our point of view), my friends and I could not manage to devour what Lincecum regularly consumes at In-N-Out.

MoreSplashHits went looking for the daily recommended caloric for a 26-year-old male who is 5-foot-11, 168 pounds. Given Lincecum’s job description, we said Lincecum was “extremely active.”

So the recommended daily caloric intake came to just under 3,500 calories. So that leaves Lincecum about 350 calories for breakfast and lunch if he dines daily at In-N-Out.

So it should come as no surprise that Lincecum has added 11 pounds this spring. Not that anyone would notice it by looking at him.

When asked if he had any idea what his cholesterol level was, Lincecum laughed, “Probably not very good. But my metabolism is through the roof.”

Maybe so, but Giants fans can only hope that Lincecum finds a bit of moderation when it comes to his favorite fast-food restaurant. And perhaps he could cut back on other bad habits that might lead to increased culinary cravings.

If not, then next fall’s favorite Halloween costume of Giants fans will be a Lincecum wig under a paper hat, accessorized with a white apron held up by a gigantic safety pin — topped off with a defibrillator.

Lost day in the desert

A strange this happened Sunday in the desert. The Giants lost — TWICE!

In their final split-squad games of the spring, the Giants fell 3-2 to the Cubs in 10 innings and 6-4 to the Athletics.

Against Oakland, the Giants struggled to mount much offense against the A’s Brandon McCarthy, who limited the Giants to no runs and three hits through six innings.

But he left the game after Brandon Belt and Ryan Rohlinger collected back-to-back singles to open the eighth. Andres Torres walked to load the bases, and Freddy Sanchez got a run-scoring groundout. Then Aubrey Huff belted a three-run home run.

On the pitching side, Madison Bumgarner had a bumpy outing when he apparently lost focus from a tight strike zone.

Bumgarner set the A’s down in order in the first, thanks to a double-play ball.

But in the second, he opened with back-to-back walks. Then after fielding a comebacker from Ryan Sweeney, he looked to third, then changed his mind and threw wildly to first, allowing two runs to score.

After that, he gave up three consecutive singles and a sacrifice fly to plate two more runs. He ended the innings with strikeouts of Mark Ellis and Daric Barton. Bumgarner then got the hook, making just 40 pitches. No doubt he got in more work in the bullpen.

On a good note, Dan Runzler made a strong case to secure the long reliever spot in the bullpen, throwing three scoreless innings in relief of Bumgarner, striking out three and giving up just one hit.

Against the Cubs, the Giants lineup contained only two potential opening-day starters: Pablo Sandoval (1 for 4) and Pat Burrell (0 for 3).

Even though all the pitchers the Giants threw against the Cubs are not going to be on the opening day roster, they kept the game close before the Cubs won it in the 10th.

Another royally good start from Zito

Another solid outing from Barry Zito and three solo home runs carried the Giants to another spring victory in a 3-1 win over the Kansas City Royals.

Zito gave up one run on two hits and four walks in six innings. He struck out two and dropped his spring ERA to 2.30.

“No question with him, it’s pounding the zone and staying away from bases on balls,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Zito.

Cody Ross homered in the second. Buster Posey went deep in the fourth. And Aubrey Huff hit one out in the sixth.

Ramon Ramirez, Jeremy Affeldt, Sergio Romo and Santiago Castilla combined to throw three shutout innings, giving up two hits.