The pitching news from spring training started out bad Monday after the Giants were coming off a terrible outing from Barry Zito.
Things got worse when word spread that Eric Surkamp, viewed to be the first option for the starting rotation if anyone got hurt or pounded, was being shut down for a week with irritated elbow.
On Sunday, GM Brian Sabaen hinted that the Giants might need a No. 5 starter OTHER THAN Vogelsong on April 15.
So Giants were holding their breath when Ryan Vogelsong took the mound Monday against the Royals in his first big-league game this spring after suffering a back strain last month.
Well, Giants fans, exhale.
Vogelsong gave up one run on two hits in 2 2/3 innings, striking out two in his 39-pitch outing. Both Kansas City hits deflected off Giants outfielders. With a little help, Vogelsong could have sailed through a hitless outing.
“I defintiely felt better the second and third inning mechanically and rhythm-wise,” Vogelsong said. “I kind of fell into a good rhythm after the first inning, get that first one out of the way and get back to business.”
After the game, manager Bruce Bochy called Vogelsong’s outing a huge relief and said the plan is for Vogelsong to work towards making his first start on April 15 at home against the Pirates. That means a trip to the DL to open the season.
CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly wrote that Vogelsong will pitch next Saturday and will throw 50 pitches. MoreSplashHits believes that Saturday start will be in a minor league game so the Giants can backdate his DL stint early enough for him to be activated on April 15.
His next outing would then come on April 5, either in extended spring training or possibly the Fresno Grizzlies’ season opener at Tucson (although spring training seems more likely).
Finally, Vogelsong could be slotted to pitch April 10 for the Grizzlies at Las Vegas. That would put him right on line to start 15th against the Bucs.
“If that’s what they tell me to do, that’s what I need to do,” Vogelsong said.
Sounds good to us.
- 3B Pablo Sandoval, who has been scuffling this spring, got things together Monday. He went 3 for 5 with an infield, a double and a game-winning two-run home run in the bottom of the ninth.
- OF Angel Pagan, who also has been scuffling, continued to scuffle. He went 0 for 4 with a strikeout. The Chronicle’ Henry Schulman tweeted that Pagan looks lost at the plate. Need more evidence? Pagan’s .176 spring average is worse than Aaron Rowand’s .182. Yikes!
- Another Giant whose spring keeps getting worse is Ryan Theriot. Theriot rolled his ankle last week but was back at shortstop Monday, with his .194 spring average. Then Theriot went to catch a pick off attempt by Vogelsong at second base when the ball glanced off his glove and hit him in the nose. Theriot was bleeding heavily, but the Giants don’t believe his nose is broken. He went for X-rays afterwards. Even if it’s not broken, the Giants face a Thursday deadline to decide whether to guarantee Theriot’s $1.25 million contract.
- So time is running short.
- C Buster Posey caught seven more innings Monday, and went 1 for 2 with a double and a walk. His spring average is .333. He’ll catchTim Lincecum on Tuesday in his first back-to-back catching effort of the season.
- Brian Wilson pitched a scoreless inning, giving up one hits and striking out one before declaring himself ready to go for the season.
Lincecum will make his second-to-last spring start when the Giants face the Angels at 1:05 p.m. The game will be televised on ESPN2.
Well, that’s more like it.
Tim Lincecum made it a full trip through through the rotation with solid starts. Madison Bumgarner, Matt Cain, Barry Zito and now Lincecum pitched at least three innings with no earned runs.
Lincecum cut his spring ERA in half by pitching four innings, giving up one unearned run on one hit and one walk with four strikeouts.
Heck, even Eric Surkamp, who would be the fill in for Ryan Vogelsong if he’s unable to go, gave up only one run in three innings.
“A lot better than last outing,” Lincecum said. “The fact that I doubled my innings helps and my arm still feels good, my body feels good, and I still kept my mechanics so I’m just trying to take that as a positive and run with it.”
Lincecum threw 37 of his 58 pitches for strikes. The lone run he allowed came when Jarrod Dyson got an infield hit that deflected off Lincecum’s foot. Dyson then stole second and took third when Eli Whiteside’s throw went into center. Dyson then scored on a groundout.
- OF Gregor Blanco continued to keep pressure on Giants brass by going 3 for 3 with a walk and his sixth stolen base of the spring. He’s hitting .545.
- Freddy Sanchez started again at DH, going 0 for 3 with a walk.
- 1B Brett Pill went 2 for 4 with a double.
- 3B Conor Gillaspie belted a solo home run in the second.
Madison Bumgarner gets the start as the Giants play the Cubs in Scottsdale at 1:05 p.m. Buster Posey is scheduled to catch four more innings.
Wins and losses in spring training don’t matter. But the Giants really needed to get one win before leaving Arizona.
Well, they got two. Both on Saturday.
The Giants left Arizona with a 20-12 record after posting wins over the Reds and Indians on Saturday.
The news wasn’t all good Saturday. Tim Lincecum, making his final spring start, got smacked around pretty good by the Reds.
“I just started missing spots and pitches got up, and I wasn’t getting ahead of many batters,” Lincecum said. “My arm feels ready. It would be nice to get to some games that actually matter.”
We guess that’s the good news. Lincecum is healthy and ready for the season. We just wish he went into the regular season on a stronger note.
Lincecum gave up six runs on 11 hits in five innings. The big hits were wind-blown home runs by Juan Francisco in the second and a three-run homer by ex-Giant Fred Lewis.
On the bright side, the Giants hitters who had largely struggled in the past week got going Saturday.
Andres Torres was 3 for 4 with two doubles and four RBI. Two of those hits were right-handed, which was huge. The oblique injury Torres suffered early in the spring limited his right-handed at-bats and he had struggled since then. So Saturday’s performance was a good sign.
Freddy Sanchez was 2 for 3 before leaving the game after being kicked in the head trying to break up a double play. He was said to be OK, which was good news.
Buster Posey walked three times. Pablo Sandoval was 1 for 3, so was Pat Burrell and Mark DeRosa. Miguel Tejada’s bat continued a strong finish to the spring, going 2 for 4 with two runs.
The Giants scored six runs in the sixth, five coming off Reds reliever Aroldis Chapman.
Also good news is four scoreless innings by the Giants bullpen. Four pitchers — Shane Loux, Guillermo Mota, Jeremy Affeldt and Steve Edlefsen combined to give up just one hit and one walk.
In the Saturday evening game, the Indians announcers were belly-aching about how the fans in Goodyear were being cheated because the Giants sent out a Triple-A lineup. Then that Triple-A lineup pounded out eight runs on 13 hits in an 8-5 win.
Mike Fontenot, Brandon Crawford and Eli Whiteside were all 2 for 5. Brandon Belt was 2 for 4, including a three-run home run. Nate Schierholtz was 2 for 4 and Roger Kieschnick was 2 for 3 with a home run.
On Sunday, the Giants capped their Arizona schedule with a 7-4 loss to the Royals. Jonathan Sanchez suffered his first spring loss. He gave up five runs, four earned, on six hits in 5 1/3 innings. The good news is that he only walked one, a four-pitch walk to Kila Kaaihue that would come back to bite Sanchez.
In the fourth, Sanchez gave up a double to Melky Cabrera, who scored on a single by Billy Butler. After the walk to Ka’aihue, Sanchez got Alex Gordon to pop out and Jeff Francoeur to strike out. Sanchez was one strike from ending the inning against Wilson Betemit, who then smacked a three-run homer for a four-run inning.
The Giants again ran out a lineup devoid of regular starters.
Expect the regular to be in the lineup Monday when the Giants return to San Francisco to open a three-game series against the A’s.
If Friday’s game against the Royals were three innings long, Friday would have been a good day for the Giants.
The Giants were knocking out hit after hit in building a 3-0 lead against Royals starter Vin Mazzaro. Madison Bumgarner was sailing, retiring nine of the first 10 batters he faced.
And then things went bad. Very bad.
The Royals tagged Bumgarner for four runs in the fourth and four more in the fifth. In the end, MadBum gave up eight earned runs on 10 hits in 4 1/3 innings on the way to the Royals winning 15-3. Yikes.
“I think the biggest thing was that I was missing over the middle a lot more,” Bumgarner said. “Early on, I was hitting spots pretty well. I don’t know if it was fatigue, but obviously I’d rather have better results.”
So would we. But Bumgarner did get himself stretch out. He’s slated to pitch again on Wednesday against the A’s in the preseason finale, then make his 2011 regular season debut on April 5 at San Diego. If there was a positive note, it’s that Bumgarner didn’t walk anyone. So it was clear that he wasn’t trying to be too fine.
On the flip side, Santiago Casilla, a candidate to close in the event Brian Wilson is not ready to open the season, had a terrible outing. He gave up five runs in the sixth to the Royals, walking four in the process.
But the Giants play twice on Saturday, doubling their chances of snapping this skid of five losses and seven losses out of eight.
The Giants will roll out an A lineup against the Reds Saturday afternoon of: CF Torres, 2B Sanchez, RF Huff, C Posey, LF Burrell, 3B Sandoval, SS Tejada, 1B DeRosa, SP Lincecum.
It could be the opening day lineup. We could also see DeRosa in RF and Huff at 1B in the opener. The other option is Rowand in CF, Torres in RF and Huff at 1B. Remember, the Giants are facing lefty Clayton Kershaw in the opener.
The Giants will send the B lineup against the Indians Saturday night: 2B Fontenot, RF Schierholtz, 1B Belt, CF Rowand, LF Ishikawa, 3B Rohlinger, SS Crawford, C Whiteside, DH TBA, P Vogelsong.
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.
John Bowker made his claim to earn a spot on the opening day roster by belting two home runs and driving in all seven runs in the Giants 7-0 win over the Kansas City Royals.
Bowker now has four home runs this spring and 18 RBI, the most in the majors.
Yet, as opening day approaches, Bowker still finds himself as the guy without a spot on the club.
With the Giants looking like they’ll break camp with 12 pitchers, it leaves five bench spots available. One will go for the backup catcher (Buster Posey or Eli Whiteside), a backup first baseman (Travis Ishikawa), a backup infielder (Matt Downs) and two backup outfielders.
But with the Giants leaning toward speedy Andres Torres and Eugenio Velez, there appears to be no spot left for Bowker. The most vulnerable player in the starting lineup in RF Nate Schierholtz. Torres and Velez can play RF. The Giants don’t think Bowker can do that. The ability for Torres and Velez to play all three OF positions, plus Velez’s ability to play 2B, make them more attractive options. Bowker can also play 1B, but so can Aubrey Huff, Ishikawa, Pablo Sandoval, Mark DeRosa or even Posey.
“We know Johnny can hit,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy told the San Francisco Chronicle. “That’s a great bat there. It’s a matter of what’s going to fit best for the ball club. The ball is jumping off his bat, but there are other things to consider.”
Not encouraging words for Bowker. It’s curious, though, that a team with such offensive deficiencies as the Giants have can’t find a place on the roster of a good bat.
On Wednesday, Bowker had a two-run double in the second, a solo home run in the fourth and a grand slam in the sixth.
Inside the box score
Travis Ishikawa was 2 for 4 with two runs scored.
Buster Posey was 2 for 3 with two runs scored
Todd Wellemeyer looks to further lock down the No. 5 starter job when he gets the start at 7:05 p.m. Thursday against the Oakland A’s. The game will be carried live on MLB Network.