We hate to say “we told you so” but we told you so.
Tuesday, the San Francisco Giants placed Buster Posey on the 7-day concussion disabled list and called up Tim Federowicz from Triple-A Sacramento.
To make room for Federowicz on the 40-man roster, pitcher Clayton Blackburn was designated for assignment.
We sort of predicted this move on Monday.
The one surprise in this move is the choice of Clayton Blackburn as the player to be DFAd.
A 16th-round pick out of Edmond (Okla.) Santa Fe High School, Blackburn became one the Giants’ top pitching prospects. Prior to the 2013 season, Baseball Prospectus listed him as the 95th best prospect in baseball.
After posting a 10-4 season with a 3.37 ERA with Triple-A Sacramento in 2015, it was thought that Blackburn could see time with the Giants in 2016. That didn’t really materialized, although Blackburn did spend four days with the big club last May, never seeing any game action.
Blackburn went 7-10 with 4.36 ERA for the RiverCats last season.
It’s not unheard of that players DFAd could clear waivers and return to Sacramento. It happened to Chris Heston two seasons ago. He later returned to throw a no-hitter for the Giants.
In the meantime, it will be Hundley as the Giants’ No. 1 catcher with Federowicz the backup for at least the next week.
Here’s another prediction. The best-case scenario for the Giants is for Posey to spend the next week resting up and be ready to return April 18 in Kansas City. Posey could then DH for two games before returning behind the plate on April 21 in Colorado.
The worst-case scenario? Well, with concussions, it’s hard to say.
It was yet another Happy Home Opener for the Giants on Monday. Well mostly happy.
It got a little scary in the first inning when Buster Posey was hit on the top of the head with Taijuan Walker fastball.
The ball hit Posey on the top, back part of the batting helmet. He sat on the ground for a while, adjusting his jaw. Trainer Dave Groeschner talked to Posey for a bit, then escorted the Giants catcher off the field, walking under his own power.
Given the Giants’ experience with concussions – last season Joe Panik had a DL stint after being hit in the head with a pitch from Matt Moore when the lefty was pitching with the Rays – it was not surprising for the Giants to take the cautious approach.
After the Giants’ game – a 4-1 win over over the Diamondbacks – Giants manager said Bruce Bochy said Posey was “doing good, he’s doing fine,” adding that if Posey weren’t a catcher, he might have been OK to stay in the game.
Translation: Given the number of foul tips catchers take off the mask in a normal season, the Giants were taking no chances with a pitch to the noggin.
Bochy said Posey is likely to sit out Tuesday game. And considering that backup Nick Hundley has been catching Matt Cain, Wednesday’s starter, most of the spring, we can expect the Giants to take the very cautious route and give Posey Wednesday off as well.
“It’s a scary moment, dangerous moment,” Bochy said. “It’s one of the worst sounds you can hear in baseball, the ball hitting the helmet. It’s a scary moment. There’s been a lot of damage to hitters hit in the head.”
True, and sometimes that damage is not quickly revealed.
When Panik was plunked in the head by Moore, he bounced right up and headed down to first base, remaining in the game. It wasn’t until eight days later when Panik complained of not being able to track pitches that the Giants placed him on the concussion disabled list. He spent a month on the DL.
So if Posey ends up just missing two-plus games, that would be great. But don’t be surprised if the Giants decide in a day or so to place Posey on the 7-day concussion DL. That would sideline him through the last six games of his homestand and be ready to return on April 18 for a two-day series at Kansas City.
It would also require someone the Giants clearing a spot on the 40-man roster to clear room for catcher Tim Federowicz, who is currently at Triple-A Sacramento.
We’ll wait and see.
Also we learned that Aaron Hill is next in the line of catchers for the Giants behind Posey and Nick Hundley.
“He just found out today,” Bochy said. “Found out late.”
In the meantime, we’ll celebrate another win in the home opener, making it eight wins of the past nine.
Matt Moore was excellent, limiting the Diamdondbacks on one run on three hits over eight innings. Mark Melancon came on in the ninth to record his second save in two days.
Moore also had the biggest “hit” of the season.
Coming to the plate with the bases loaded and one out, Moore hit a swinging bunt to the right of the mound. Walker fielded the ball and threw wildly to the plate in an effort to get Brandon Crawford trying to score. The wild throw allowed Joe Panik to score. Catcher Jeff Mathis’ errant throw trying to get Panik allowed Jarrett Parker to score all the way from first on a ball that traveled 45 feet.
The play was set up by Parker drawing a walk right before Panik. Parker later added his first hit of the season in the sixth.
The Giants also went 0 for 11 with runners in scoring position. But the Giants got the win, and that’s all the matter.
And we’ll just wait and see about Buster.
It’s been eight years since the San Francisco Giants have opened the season at home.
That’s by choice by the Giants. They’d rather play games at home later in the season than earlier, so they are willing to give Opening Day to other clubs.
But it’s worked for the Giants. In the seven home openers since the Giants’ last Opening Day at home, they have won six times — twice in walk-off fashion.
What kind of excitement will the home opener in 2017 bring? Who knows, but let’s take a look at the past seven home openers.
April 7, 2016 – GIANTS 12, DODGERS 6
Jake Peavy made the start as the Dodgers took a 4-0 lead in the fifth before the Giants scored three in the fifth and four in the sixth to rally. Joe Panik and Buster Posey were 3 for 5, and Hunter Pence went deep.
April 13, 2015 – ROCKIES 2, GIANTS 0
After seven games on the road in Arizona and San Diego (sound familiar?), the Giants hoisted their 2014 World Series championship banner. Then they were shut out by Eddie Butler and four relievers as the Giants would lose their first five home games of 2015, part of an eight-game losing streak.
April 8, 2014 – GIANTS 7, DIAMONDBACKS 3
The Giants scored twice in the first inning, Brandon Belt hit a two-run home run — batting in the No. 2 hole — and Tim Hudson won his AT&T Park Giants debut.
April 5, 2013 – GIANTS 1, CARDINALS 0
The Giants raised their 2012 World Series banner, then shut out the Cardinals as Barry Zito re-created his gem from Game 5 on the National League Championship Series from the previous fall.
April 13, 2012 – GIANTS 5, PIRATES 0
The Giants scored twice in the first inning and Matt Cain did the rest, throwing a one-hit shutout with 11 strikeouts.
April 8, 2011 – GIANTS 5, CARDINALS 4, 12 inn.
The Giants hoisted their 2010 World Series banner, then pulled out the first of two back-to-back walk-off wins as Aaron Rowand, again, singled home Nate Schierholtz in the bottom of the 11th.
April 9, 2010 — GIANTS 5, BRAVES 4, 13 inn.
Trailing 4-2 heading into the bottom of the ninth, Edgar Renteria offered a preview of future heroics with a two-run home run off Braves closer Billy Wagner to tie. In the 13th run, Aaron Rowand singled home Juan Uribe with two outs for the walk-off win.
Almost one week into the season, the San Francisco Giants have discovered that maybe Chris Marrero isn’t their best option in left field against left-handed pitching.
Heading into Saturday’s game against the San Diego Padres, Giants left fielders collectively — and that includes Marrero, Jarrett Parker, Gorkys Hernandez and Aaron Hill — are 0 for 20 with 10 strikeouts, one walk and one sacrifice fly.
By comparison, Giants pitchers are 3 for 10 with just four strikeouts.
With other options like Michael Morse and Mac Williamson still battling injuries and maybe a month away from being options, the Giants continued to seek out alternatives.
On Saturday, they found one in Melvin Upton Jr. (aka B.J. Upton).
Upton was released by the Blue Jays out of spring training last week. And when that happened, the Giants didn’t appear interested. Instead, they signed Drew Stubbs, who released by the Twins.
But when Marrero’s early struggles led manager Bruce Bochy to give Aaron Hill his first career start in left field on Friday, it became clear the Giants would need to explore other options.
And that led them to sign Upton.
Upton has had a very up-and-down career. After a solid start with the Rays, his move to the National League was a disaster during his two seasons with the Braves, with whom he hit .184 and .208 in 2013 and 2014.
Things got better when he moved to San Diego, where he hit .259 in 2015 and .256 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI in 92 games with the Padres before being traded in a deadline deal to Toronto. Things didn’t go so well there. He hit just .196 in 57 games for the Jays before being released at the end of spring training this season.
Upton not only gives the Giants a right-handed hitting option to throw into the left field mix, but he’s also made more than 1,112 career starts in center, providing some needed depth there.
According to Twitter reports, Upton signed a minor-league deal with the Giants and will report to Triple-A Sacramento to shake off some of the rust.
An interesting dialogue occurred before Wednesday’s game between the media and Giants manager Bruce Bochy.
The topic of discussion was the manipulation of the starting rotation for the Dodgers series on April 24-27.
Most interesting was that Bochy didn’t respond to the media inquiry by saying: “Dudes! I’m worried about today’s game, not one three weeks away.”
But the skipper took a different tact and fielded the questions.
The question revolved around whether Bochy would use two off days that bookend a two-game series in Kansas City on April 18-19 to skip the No. 5 spot in the rotation (currently occupied by Matt Cain) to set up the possibility of the Giants sending their top four starters into that series vs. their NL West rivals.
If the Giants stay on their regular turn, the Giants would send Cain, Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto and Matt Moore into the April 24-27 series at AT&T Park.
Bochy responded that he generally doesn’t like to monkey with the rotation so that his pitchers stay on their normal routines. And that’s true. In his years as Giants skipper, Bochy has rarely used off days to skip spots in his rotation, unless injury forced his hand.
However, Bochy added that he would consider having Ty Blach start in place of Cain in certain situations. One of those situations could be against the Dodgers, who struggle notoriously against lefties. That was evidenced by their shutout loss against the Padres’ Clayton Richard on Tuesday.
But another thing to consider is that Giants have two series against the Dodgers over the next few weeks. San Francisco travels into Chavez Ravine for three games on May 1-3.
If the Giants skipped Cain in Kansas City and started their front four in the April series at AT&T Park, it would mean they would start Moore, Jeff Samardzija and the No. 5 spot in the May series.
However, if they stayed on turn, then it would be Cueto, Moore and Samardzija.
So, either way, the most lefties that Giants could throw at the Dodgers over those seven games is four, and both would involve swapping Blach for Cain.
Bochy did qualify his remarks by adding that the Dodgers series was still a long way off.
And he’s right. We don’t what decision the Giants may arrive at, or be forced to arrive at, by then.
Cain’s first two starts of the season will come Friday in San Diego and next Wednesday at home vs. Arizona. If those two starts don’t go well for the veteran, the Giants could use the off days around those Kansas City dates to reassess their starting rotation, regardless of potential matchups against the Dodgers.
Hot takes after the Giants’ 8-6 loss to Arizona on Wednesday.
- Many fans were upset that Brandon Belt’s error in the fifth inning that allowed Arizona two score two runs cost the Giants the game. But remember that on Tuesday it was an Arizona error on a potential inning-ending double play ball off the bat of Cueto that sparked the Giants’ five-run inning. So you win some, you lose some.
- I was actually surprised that Bochy send Matt Moore out to pitch in the sixth. The error notwithstanding, the Diamondbacks were starting to make solid contact in the fifth when they tied the game. At 85 pitches and having to labor through the fifth in his first start of the year, I would have thought Bochy would have hooked Moore and gone to the pen. Remember, he pulled Bumgarner after 88 pitches on Sunday, although that was after seven innings of work. Moore may have been pulled had the Giants not gone 1-2-3 in the top of the sixth. Moore was slated to bat fourth that inning. As it was, Moore was charged with two more runs in the sixth, although the bullpen didn’t help him with inherited runners.
- The struggles in left field continued Wednesday as they went 0 for 5 with two more strikeouts, making LFs 0 for 14 with 10 strikeouts on the season. Chris Marrero should get the start against Thursday against lefty Robbie Ray.
- The Giants signed another veteran outfielder Wednesday. Drew Stubbs was signed to provide organizational depth at center field. The Giants currently carry two true center fielders in Denard Span and Gorkys Hernandez, although Jarrett Parker can play center in a pinch. Justin Ruggiano is at Triple-A Sacramento and can play all three outfield positions. Stubbs, who was recently cut by the Twins, can make $1 million plus bonuses if he gets called up by the Giants. He’ll start at extended spring training before joining Sacramento.
It’s early. Two games. And as such, it’s easy to read too much into early stats and trends.
But there’s one that could be a worrisome harbinger for the San Francisco Giants.
Coming into the 2017 season, the Giants had one unsettled position in their starting lineup: left field.
And while many Giants fans had hoped the team would improve that position through free agency or trade, the Giants preferred to fill that spot from within — with Jarrett Parker or Mac Williamson or both.
The Giants entered camp with that intention, bringing in some veterans for support.
By the end of spring, all had performed well — Parker, Williamson, Mike Morse and Chris Marrero. Williamson (quad) and Morse (hamstring) had their springs ended early by injury and aren’t expected back until late April at the earliest.
That left the Giants to open the season with a left-field platoon of Parker and Marrero, but early results have not been good — proving once again that success in spring training does not always translate into success in the regular season.
In 10 plate appearances in the first two games of the season, Giants left fielders — which includes Gorkys Hernandez — had struck out eight times.
Eight Ks in 10 PAs.
The left fielders have represented 42 percent of all Giants strikeouts in the first two games of the seaso (8 of 19).
By comparsion, Giants pitchers (Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto) have not had a single strikeout in six plate appearances in two games.
Here’s how they compare:
- LF 0-9, SF, RBI, 8 Ks, 0 BB
- SP 3-5, 2 HR, 3 runs, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 0 K
Again, it’s early. A 3-for-5 game can change these numbers quickly for Giants left fielders. But the lopsided nature of all those Ks is disturbing.
The Giants will see a mixed bag of righties and lefties over the next few days.
- RH Taijuan Walker (Parker)
- LH Robbie Ray (Marrero)
- RH Luis Perdomo (Parker)
- RH Jhoulys Chacin (Parker)
- LH Clayton Richard (Marrero)
The calendar says 2017, but it still feels a lot like 2016.
The San Francisco Giants blew a major league-high 32 saves in 2016.
So far in 2017, they have two blown saves, and they’ve only played one game.
Derek Law gave up the tying run in the bottom of the eighth against the Arizona Diamondbacks.
And then after the Giants seized the lead back in the top of the ninth thanks to a Joe Panik triple, the Giants blew another save in the ninth when new closer Mark Melancon gave up two runs – all with two outs – as the Giants fell to the Diamondbacks 6-5.
Yes, 6-5 – the same score that ended the Giants’ 2016 campaign.
All of this overshadowed a history-making day by Madison Bumgarner when the big lefty became the first pitcher in major league history to hit two home runs on Opening Day.
He became the first Giant to hit multiple home runs on Opening Day since Barry Bonds in 2002.
He became the fifth Giant since 1920 to hit multiple Opening Day home runs, joining Bonds, Matt Williams, Willie Mays and Bob Elliott.
But all of that was long forgotten because the Giants have not yet solved their bullpen issues.
It started in the eighth when Bumgarner was pulled after seven innings and 88 pitches.
Manager Bruce Bochy’s first option out of the pen was Derek Law. That’s not a bad choice looking at Law’s 2016 body work. Law was 4-2 with 2.13 ERA and 50 strikeouts in 55 innings with 0.964 WHIP.
But Law has looked off this spring, posting 5.06 ERA in 10.2 innings.
Yes, we know that spring stats don’t mean anything. But it also must be taken into consideration that just because games go from being exhibitions to counting doesn’t mean that a struggling pitcher can just flip the switch and be good again.
Law walked almost as many batters in 10.2 innings this spring (8) as he did all of last season (9).
Even Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle was surprised that the Giants sent Steven Okert to the minors instead of Law to open the season, just to give Law a little more time to find his touch.
But no. The Giants kept Law. And then to put a cherry on top, Bochy put him into the first game as the eighth-inning set-up guy.
And guess what? I didn’t work out.
Law gave up two crisp singles to AJ Pollock and Chris Owings. Then he gave up a seeing-eye single to Paul Goldschmidt to tie the game. Three batters, three hits, no outs.
Lefty Ty Blach came in to face Jake Lamb and got Lamb to hit into a double play. Hunter Strickland entered and got Yasmani Tomas to hit a comebacker. Inning over.
The Giants went up 5-4 in the ninth and brought on new closer Mark Melancon to close it out. Melancon got two quick outs before giving up a double to Jeff Mathis (aided by some less-than-stellar outfield defense by Gorkys Hernandez, in the game for his defense), a single to Daniel Descalso, a single to Pollock and a game-winning single to Owings.
Of course, all of these bullpen struggles could have been a non-issue if the Giants also have brought out another big piece of their 2016 woes – batting with runners in scoring position.
The Giants were 1 for 10 with RISP on Sunday, and that doesn’t even include the two outs they made that scored runs – sacrifice flies by Panik and Conor Gillaspie.
The Giants had the bases loaded and one out in the ninth off a struggling Fernando Rodney with Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford coming up. But Posey flied to shallow right and Crawford hit a one-foot groundout in front of the plate.
Ugh. Enough with 2016 already.
Let’s move on with 2017. The season continues Tuesday.