Manager Bruce Bochy best summed up the Giants performance Thursday night against the Rockies.
“Ohhh boy, this is about as ugly as we’ve had. Just had an awful game tonight,” Bochy said. “Sure (a no-hitter) would have been embarrassing. We were embarrassed tonight. I don’t care if it’s a pickup game, spring training –We’re leaving here in about 10 days.”
Yes, it’s never good when you have four times as many errors as hits. It’s never good when you get one-hit in a spring training game.
It’s never good when you go 12-up-and-12-down against a 49-year-old pitcher.
But that’s what happened. The Giants only hit was a seventh-inning double off the top of the fence by Pablo Sandoval.
Sandoval has been scuffling this spring. Bochy said he would go to a minor-league game on Friday to get more at-bats and find his groove.
It was so ugly that I didn’t even link the box score. Nothing to see there.
But there are some possible explanations for Thursday’s performance. Some good. Some not so good.
- Giants announcers Jon Miller and Dave Fleming tried to explain that sometimes at this point in spring training players are ready to play games that count, so they lose focus. A good thought, but Thursday’s lineup included hitters who needed to focus because their swing is not quite regular-season ready.
- The Rockies rolled out a lineup that looked a lot like they one they’ll roll out on opening day. The Giants did not. SS Brandon Crawford was under the weather and got the day off. Emmanuel Burriss and Ryan Theriot, both candidates to start at 2B if Freddy Sanche is unable to go, sat out with minor injuries. C Buster Posey got the day off. OF Nate Schierholtz was playing his first game in a few days nursing a minor injury. Even Tim Lincecum passed on facing the Rockies, choosing instead to throw in a minor-league game. So the Rockies faced Brian Burres.
- The Giants have a tendency to struggle against soft throwers. And Moyer is the softest of soft throwers. This was the second time this spring Moyer has shut them down. He’s allowed just one hit in six innings this spring against San Francisco. The Giants can only hope that Moyer doesn’t make the Rockies rotation (doubtful) or that if he does, that he pitches in one of the Rockies first three games, and not in the Rockies’ second series of the season against the Giants (even more doubtful).
- It was just one of those days.
Madison Bumgarner takes the hill as the Giants face the Rangers at 6:05 p.m. The game will be televised on a one-hour delay at 7 p.m. on the MLB Network. But fans with an MLB.TV subscription can watch it live.
Emmanuel Burriss showed off his versatility again Wednesday by getting the start in right field for ailing Nate Schierholtz.
But after getting a walk in two plate appearances, Burriss made a quick exit after three innings, which was curious.
As it turns out, Burriss felt a tweak in his hamstring and decided to let trainers know. Then the decision was made to remove him.
“I’ve got a good thing going,” Burriss told CSNBayArea.com. “Might as well speak up if you don’t feel right. I’ve played a lot of innings. It’s nothing serious at all.”
Burriss, who is hitting .417 this spring, likely will sit out a couple of games, which works out OK for the Giants. Look for Ryan Theriot to get starts at 2B the next couple of days.
Theriot played in a minor-league game Wednesday as he tried to find the timing in his bat. The Giants need to make a call by next Thursday on whether or not to keep Theriot. Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle had a nice story about Theriot’s situation. To read it, click here.
- LF Brett Pill, who has been quiet lately, made some noise with a three-run home run in the fourth. Just as noteworthy, he took his first walk of the spring.
- DH Buster Posey went 2 for 4, raising his spring average to .294.
- C Chris Stewart went 1 for 2 with a walk. He also gunned down Asdrubel Cabrera trying to steal second.
- C Hector Sanchez kept swinging the hot bat, going 2 for 2, with a double, bumping his spring average to .480.
- P Eric Surkamp continues to give the Giants confidence that they have some depth in the rotation. Surkamp would be the No. 1 option to fill in if there is an injury or if someone (read: Zito) struggles. He gave up two runs in five innings, both runs scoring on a two-run homer to Shelley Duncan.
Tim Linecum faces Jamie Moyer as the Giants meet the Rockies at 7:10 p.m.
A little more than two weeks from opening day, the Diamondbacks and Giants met in a mini-preview of the season-opening meeting.
Both teams put out lineups that looked a lot like they might on April 6.
Barry Zito made 83 pitches, the most of any Giants starter this spring. That’s the most important stat. The other numbers were mixed.
He walked four and gave up three runs on seven hits in five innings.
Much of the bad numbers came in a rough first inning.
The game opened with a bunt single by Willie Bloomquist. Zito then gave up a two-run homer to Gerardo Parra. Two batters, two runs. Zito went on to walk two batters in the inning, but a double play helped him escape further damage.
In the second, he gave up a leadoff double to Cody Ransom, who was sacrifice to third and scored on a sac fly by Bloomquist.
But after that, Zito manage to put up three zeros in the next three innings. If he had managed a fourth, that would have been a quality start — the best of what Giants fans can hope for from Zito.
“He got better as he went,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He started locating better, getting a better rhythm there. Earlier he got some balls up, and he wasn’t quite hitting his spots. But he threw good his last couple of innings.”
- OF Angel Pagan continued an uneven spring by going 0 for 4 with three strikeouts. Meanwhile, OF Gregor Blanco, who was a late addition to the lineup for the injured Nate Schierholtz, was 1 for 3 with a walk and two more stolen bases. Pagan was batting leadoff, and Blanco in the No. 6 spot. Hmmmmm. But, again, Blanco was a late add, and was just plopped into Schierholtz’s spot in the lineup.
- C Buster Posey was back behind the plate. He went 1 for 2 with a walk.
- OF Melky Cabrera continue to hit, going 2 for 4.
- The Giants had eight hits, seven singles. The lone double was from Ryan Theriot, who was 1 for 2 with a walk as he continues to heat up from a very slow start. Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle had a nice blog post on Theriot. I knew Theriot’s contract was a non-guaranteed one. I was not aware that Fontenot’s also was not guaranteed. To see the full post, click here.
It’s Eric Surkamp’s turn to take the hill as the Giants face the Indians at 1:05 p.m. The game will be broadcast live on the MLB Network.
The past is the past, and it’s always better to look to the future. But we still thought it would be worthwhile to take a look at the players parted ways with since the end of last season.
We’ll start with Pat Burrell and Orlando Cabrera, who decided to retire after last season. And then there’s Miguel Tejada, who had the decision to retire made for him by the other 29 big league clubs who didn’t offer him a spring training invite.
But there are other ex-Giants who are still playing. So let’s take look at some of them.
Andres Torres, of, Mets: Torres was a fan favorite in San Francisco and many were sad to see him go. But after a breakout 2010, Torres could not repeat that success in 2011. Now, the Mets are hoping he will claim their starting job in CF. He’s had a modest spring, slowed some by a hip injury earlier this month. He’s hitting .273 (6 for 22) with a triple and two stolen bases. He’s only struck out twice, but only walked once.
Cody Ross, of Red Sox: Ross started the winter looking for a three-year deal. He ended up taking a one-year deal for $3 million from Boston. Now, the Red Sox are hoping Ross can hold down an outfield job until Carl Crawford gets healthy. So far, it’s looking like a good move for Boston. Ross is hitting .455 (10 for 22) with 2 HRs and 5 RBI. He’s also only struck out three times.
Ramon Ramirez, rp, Mets: Probably the most painful parting for the Giants of the offseason in terms of quality. But the bullpen was strength of the Giants. Early returns for the Mets have been mixed: 11.25 ERA, 9 hits, 5 earned runs in four innings. But he also has seven strikeouts. But Ramirez has never put up big spring numbers. He has spring ERAs of 8.71 and 7.94 the past two seasons.
Mark DeRosa, inf., Nationals: DeRosa looked done by May of last season, with a lingering wrist injury. But he says his wrist feels as good as it has since he originally hurt it back in 2009. And the spring numbers show that: .429 (6 for 14), 1 HR, 1 RBI and a whopping 8 walks, giving him an .636 OBP. It’s odd for anyone to walk that much in the spring when hitters are trying to find their stroke. But it will be a big part of DeRosa’s game as he tries to earn a bench role for the Nationals.
Jeff Keppinger, 2b, Rays: A lot of Giants fans wanted Keppinger to stay and Mike Fontenot to go. But Keppinger is not quite as versatile and a bit more expensive. Now, he’s looking for a bench job with the Rays, doing his usual Keppinger stuff: .333 (8 for 24), 1 2B, 2 RBI and two walks.
Jonathan Sanchez, lhp, Royals: The Royals were hoping to catch a diamond in the rough with Sanchez. So far, they’re just getting rocks. Sanchez has made two spring starts. In his first, he worked on throwing strikes and got tagged for three runs on four hits and no walks in one inning. His second start included two walks, and four runs on three hits in two innings. He has a 21.00 ERA in 3 IP this spring.
Aaron Rowand, of, Mia: Rowand is trying to land a reserve outfield job with the Marlins, and it’s not going well. He got a hit on Saturday, but it was just his second of the spring. He’s hitting .077 (2 for 26) with five strikeouts. Looks like he’ll be spending quality time with the family this summer, counting the $11.5 million the Giants will be paying him this season.
First, we heard it was going to be last Wednesday.
Then, no, it was Friday.
Then possibly on Saturday.
And now it’s Monday, the Giants have a day off, and we still don’t know when second baseman Freddy Sanchez will play his first game in the field.
It won’t be Tuesday. Wednesday?
Bochy said Sanchez was still throwing tentatively during his last full-speed infield drill last week, and the manager wants to see him game-ready in practice before putting him into a game.
“Once he takes a good infield and feels like he can play in a game, we’ll put him out there,” Bochy said. “But not until then.”
Sanchez could take infield practice on Tuesday or Wednesday, then take a day off, and could be ready to play the next day. But the uncertainty has led Bochy to admit that his second baseman could open the season on the DL.
“We’re down to two weeks, and he hasn’t gotten out there yet,” Bochy said. “We’re still optimistic that we’ll get him out there, but each day that goes by the possibility grows a little bit that he’s not going to be ready.”
Mike Fontenot, Ryan Theriot and Emmanuel Burriss are battling for backup infield jobs. It figures that only two will make the team. Henry Schulman of the SF Chronicle said Theriot has not looked good in the field or at the plate this spring. Theriot is hitting .200 (6 for 30).
The Giants covet Theriot for his experience, his right-hand bat and his ability to hit lefties. But they have also starting give shortstop Brandon Crawford more opportunities this spring against lefties. Crawford hit his first spring home run off a lefty, the Mariners’ Hong-Chih Kuo.
“Any home run feels good,” Crawford said. “That is came off a lefty, it probably feels better.”
Burriss went 2 for 2 with a triple and a walk Sunday, raising his spring average to .441 (15 for 34). He also has five steals.
If Sanchez opens on the DL, all three infielders should make the team. Another option is to put Ryan Vogelsong on the DL to open the season, activating him on April 15 when the Giants first need a No. 5 starter.
Then, the Giants could open the season with 11 pitchers, allowing them to keep an additional position player on the roster at least for the first nine days of the season.
- Brandon Belt had a double in three at-bats, leaving his spring average as .368 as Aubrey Huff sat out with a sore back.
- Madison Bumgarner looked ready for the season, giving up four hits and no walks in five scoreless innings. He wanted to pitch into the six, but Sunday’s less-than-ideal conditions led Bochy to have MadBum finish his day with 20 pitches in the bullpen.
- Clay Hensley gave up three rusn on three hits in one inning, although two runs were unearned.
The Giants will keep their rotation intact by having Matt Cain throw a minor-league game Monday. Barry Zito will get the start Tuesday against the Diamondbacks at 1:10 p.m.
Outfielder Gregor Blanco is a non-roster invitee who hasn’t played in the majors in two seasons. He had an injury-riddled 2011 in the minors.
And yet the vibe around media members in the Cactus League is the speedy outfielder will be on the Giants’ 25-man roster to open the 2012 season.
After watching Blanco use his speed to leg a single to right into a double in Saturday’s 3-3 tie with the Dodgers, Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury noted how a couple of opposing beat writers reacted.
“Gee-whiz, he’s fast,” said one.
“Sheesh, he can fly,” said another.
OK, OK. Those aren’t direct quotes. But MoreSplashHits is a family fan blog, so we cleaned up the language.
Pavlovic noted it was the third time this spring that he’s heard other beat writers marvel at Blanco’s speed. “Likely won’t be the last,” Pavlovic added.
In another post, Pavlovic shared a conversation he had with a Venezuelan writer, who said Blanco has been the best player in the Venezuelan Winter League the past five years, calling him “an on-base percentage wizard.” Blanco was the VWL MVP this past winter.
On-base wizards have been a myth on the Giants rosters in past seasons, so his addition would be appreciated.
This spring, Blanco is hitting .444 (16 for 36) with 10 runs, two doubles, five walks, a .512 OBP and a major-league best seven steals in eight attempts.
Mark Purdy of the San Jose Mercury News says Blanco has already earned a spot as the No. 4 outfielder. For his impressions, click here.
Is it possible to scatter six extra-base hits? Well, Tim Lincecum found a way to do that Saturday against the Oakland Athletics.
Lincecum gave up six hits — one single, two triples and three doubles — but only one run in six innings, his longest outing of the spring.
Five of those extra-base hits came in the first two innings, but Lincecum worked his way out of a trouble with a little help from Nate Schierholtz.
It was all part of Lincecum’s pledge this spring: Throw more strikes.
“No walks,” he told CSNBayArea.com’s Andrew Baggarly. “It’s a huge thing for me. It’s about getting ahead, and even when you don’t, not being afraid to throw a wrinkle down the middle. For me, that’s a two-seamer. Hopefully, you induce a ground ball or something.”
Lincecum’s 86 walks last season ranked second in the National League last season (with extra thanks to Jonathan Sanchez and Barry Zito being hurt for a good portion of the year). Also, his 3.99 pitches per batter kept Lincecum from going deeper into games.
He was worried that was the case Saturday when he came in after the fourth inning and was surprised to find out he was only at 48 pitches.
“I was like ‘oh, I guess it’s not as bad as I thought,” he said.
- The offense got off to a slow start, managing just one hit in the first three innings. But the Giants got it going in the fourth with a single by Freddy Sanchez, double by Melky Cabrera, sacrifice fly (with two strikes) from Pablo Sandoval, double by Nate Schierholtz and home run from Ryan Theriot.
- Theriot’s home run was one of three on the game for the Giants. Sandoval and Angel Pagan added solo shots.
- Pagan, coming off have a wisdom tooth pulled earlier this week, went 2 for 4 with a stolen base and home run.
- Brian Wilson allowed an unearned run, but also walked two in his two-third of an inning. He also struck out two.