Results tagged ‘ Aaron Rowand ’

Tuesday’s Winter Meetings leftovers

INDIANAPOLIS — Each manager attending the Winter Meetings participates in a half-hour question-and-answer session with reporters. Here are highlights from Giants manager Bruce Bochy’s stint Tuesday:

– On Eugenio Velez’s on-base percentage, which has been lower than desired for a leadoff man (the role he’s expected to play in 2010): “It’s something to work on. We know how important that leadoff guy is in getting on and on-base percentage. Your hope is the experience of getting playing time is going to help increase his on-base percentage and his discipline at the plate and his hitting ability. This kid just continues to get better and better. So that’s part of the growing process for young players, especially a leadoff hitter. I think the more Eugenio leads off, you hope that he does get better and finds more ways to get on base for you.”

– On Edgar Renteria’s position in the batting order if Freddy Sanchez bats second: “Where we are right now, Sánchez could hit second or third. You know, it’s not etched in stone that he will be our No. 2 hitter depending where we are at going into Spring Training. It’s nice to have that flexibility with him, because I think he would be a pretty good No. 3-hole hitter, and I think he does a pretty good job in the 2-hole. I think we could put Edgar in the 2-hole, who has a lot of experience in there, and drop Freddy to the 3-hole.”

– Where does Fred Lewis fit in? “Right now, Fred is one of our outfielders who will compete for a spot with John Bowker and Nate Schierholtz, Velez, (Andres) Torres. I know that’s a lot there, but where we’re at right now, he’s in the mix with the other guys.”

– Any chance you might consider Fred as the leadoff guy, since he had a decent on-base percentage? “I put him there last year. Fred actually came up to me. He wasn’t too comfortable leading off, and so I took him out of that spot. But that was my hope for him, to lead off, because he does see pitches.  He does get on base. You know, he has speed and he could be a good leadoff hitter, but the guy has to want to do it and be comfortable.  He admitted that he was not real comfortable with it.”

– How do you see right field playing out? “It’s going to be competitive. Nate obviously is going to be in the mix there. He’s playing winter ball and doing a nice job in Puerto Rico. My guess is it will be deep into spring before we know how we are going to have those guys placed in the outfield.”

– Is there any reason for optimism about Aaron Rowand putting up better numbers overall? “For me, Aaron had a good first half.  Second half, he did tail off a little bit. But really, going into probably mid-August, his numbers were pretty good. … To have a normal year for him, that might be hitting .270 (with)15 to 20 home runs and driving in 75, 80 runs. Sure, I expect Aaron to have those kind of numbers at the end of the year.”

– You mentioned last year around this time that he may play fewer games, and he did. Seeing that he did tail off again, might you have the same mindset? “Yeah, I have talked about this, too. I haven’t with Aaron, but I did try to call him the other day. With the tailoff the last couple of years, it’s something I’ll sit down with Aaron this spring and talk to him about, maybe try to give him a break now and then in that first half to see if that can help him in the second half.”

– Chris Haft

No shame for Giants against Phils

SAN FRANCISCO — Truly rabid Giants fans still pondering What Might Have Been in 2009 can torture themselves further as the World Series begins Wednesday by recalling San Francisco’s efforts against the Philadelphia Phillies, who hope to capture their second consecutive Fall Classic.

The Giants were 4-3 against Philadelphia and easily could have fared better. They lost twice by one run in a Sept. 1-3 series at Citizens Bank Park. San Francisco took three of four from the Phils July 30-Aug. 2 at AT&T Park, emboldening those who suggested that the Giants would be tough to face in a short postseason series.

A game-by-game look at the season series showed that the Giants were alternately at their most impressive and most vulnerable against the National League champions:

July 30: Pablo Sandoval said he wasn’t acting out of revenge toward Phillies manager Charlie Manuel, who left him off the NL All-Star team. But it sure looked like it as Sandoval homered, doubled and drove in four runs in a 7-2 Giants victory. Jonathan Sanchez turned in a typical performance, lasting only 5 2/3 innings but allowing just three hits while striking out seven.

July 31: The punchless Giants showed up, mustering four hits in a 5-1 loss. Then again, they faced the formidable Cliff Lee, who allowed two runners to reach scoring position while throwing a complete game. San Francisco trailed 1-0 when Brandon Medders and Jeremy Affeldt endured rare struggles as they combined to issue three walks and hit a batter in Philadelphia’s three-run seventh.

Aug. 1: Tim Lincecum was nothing short of magnificent, striking out eight and retiring the final 10 batters he faced in an eight-inning effort. Juan Uribe drove in the game’s only runs with a pair of sacrifice flies off Joe Blanton in a 2-0 Giants victory. Lincecum improved to 12-3 and Brian Wilson pitched a perfect ninth for his 27th save.

Aug. 2: Trailing 3-1 against Cole Hamels, the undaunted Giants scored three runs in the fifth and three more in the sixth to pull away and win, 7-3. Eugenio Velez contributed to both uprisings, blooping a two-out single and scoring on Freddy Sanchez’s two-run double in the fifth before stroking a two-run single in the sixth.

Sept. 1: The Giants arrived in Philadelphia tied with Colorado for the Wild Card lead, but Hamels precipitated their September slide by allowing two hits in a 1-0 decision. Sanchez struck out eight in six innings, lapsing only when Shane Victorino singled leading off the fourth inning and scored on Ryan Howard’s one-out double. Rich Aurilia opened the ninth with a pinch-hit single but pinch-runner Andres Torres was thrown out trying to steal second base, ending the rally before it began.

Sept. 2: Brad Penny dominated in his Giants debut, surrendering five hits in eight shutout innings. The resurgent Torres hit a fifth-inning single to open the scoring before Uribe and Aaron Rowand delivered back-to-back homers in a three-run sixth to hasten San Francisco’s 4-0 win.

Sept. 3: An instant classic ended in frustration for the Giants. Lincecum struck out 11 in seven innings while allowing two runs and four hits. But Pedro Martinez was slightly better, blanking San Francisco for seven innings after Velez homered to open the game. After the Cy Young Award winners left the stage, the Giants put runners on the corners with two outs in the ninth against Brad Lidge before pinch-hitter Fred Lewis grounded into a force play to end Philadelphia’s 2-1 triumph.

– Chris Haft

Burriss to undergo surgery; Rowand turns in gem

SAN FRANCISCO — Infielder Emmanuel Burriss’ season possibly has been ended by his broken left foot.

Burriss, who fractured his fifth metatarsal while running the bases earlier this week while playing for Triple-A Fresno, will undergo surgery on Friday in San Francisco and is expected to miss at least two months. Dr. Larry Oloff, the Giants’ foot specialist, will perform the procedure.

Burriss, 24, opened the season as the Giants’ starting second baseman but was optioned to Fresno on June 16. He appeared in San Francisco’s first 56 games but ultimately was compromised by his offensive inconsistency. He hit .238 in 61 games. With Fresno, Burriss hit .268 in 17 games.

Despite his demotion, Burriss remained valued by the Giants for his speed, ability to switch hit and flair for the spectacular on defense. The organization has continued to envision him as a potential starting middle infielder.

*****

Aaron Rowand turned in the play of the day Wednesday in the Giants’ 7-0 loss to Florida, catching up with Wes Helms’ fifth-inning drive and grabbing it a step in front of the left-center field wall. Rowand held onto the ball despite bumping into the wall close to the 404-foot marker.

Giants right-hander Ryan Sadowski appreciated the defensive support. Initially, Sadowski didn’t even turn around to follow the ball’s flight, since he was convinced that Helms had hit a home run. “I thought it was way gone,” Sadowski said.

Then he quickly became mindful of his pitcher-friendly surroundings and had a change of heart.

“I know this is a big yard, so let’s see what [Rowand] does with it,” Sadowski said.

– Chris Haft

Affeldt excels; ‘D’ isn’t that bad; history’s safe

ST. LOUIS — If Jeremy Affeldt seems like he’s one of the best setup relievers you’ve seen, it’s not your imagination.

Affeldt worked a perfect ninth inning Wednesday to extend his scoreless-innings streak to 19. It’s the longest streak by a Giant since Noah Lowry and Jason Schmidt each put up zeroes for 19 consecutive innings in 2005. The last Giants reliever to enjoy a longer streak was Joe Nathan, who went unscored upon for 22 1/3 innings in a row in 2003.

During Affeldt’s 20-game stretch, he has allowed only 10 hits in 60 at-bats (.167). Moreover, none of the 10 baserunners he has inherited in his last 11 appearances have scored. He also leads NL relievers with 10 double plays induced.

*****

Despite their three errors Wednesday, the Giants actually played some decent defense.

Center fielder Aaron Rowand made a breathtaking diving catch of Skip Schumaker’s third-inning line drive. Left fielder Randy Winn duplicated the feat on the luckless Schumaker in the fifth inning.

*****

They say it’s difficult to sweep any opponent. History proves that this is so.

Had the Giants won Wednesday, they would have entered Thursday’s finale with a chance to record their first four-game series sweep in St. Louis since May 6-9, 1912. Nineteen-twelve! That’s when Christy Mathewson and Rube Marquard were the Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain of their day for San Fran — er, New York — and the roster included two star-crossed players: Fred Merkle (who failed to touch first base in a critical 1908 game) and Fred Snodgrass (whose error in the final game of the 1912 World Series helped opposing Boston prevail).

It’s worth remembering that four-game series aren’t played much anymore. Still, 97 years is a heck of a long time.

The Giants’ last four-game sweep of St. Louis anywhere occurred July 24-26, 1987 at Candlestick Park. It helped launch their second-half drive toward the National League West title.

– Chris Haft

Defense helps Lincecum; Wilson lauds Mariano; Rowand hurt

ST. LOUIS — For the first 4 2/3 innings Monday night, while it seemed as if Tim Lincecum might pitch a no-hitter, a handful of close calls and sparkling plays stood out.

Albert Pujols ended the fourth inning by scorching a line drive directly at third baseman Pablo Sandoval. Had it traveled a few feet in any other direction, it would have been a double.

Second baseman Juan Uribe preserved Lincecum’s perfect game in the fifth inning by darting up the middle to snare Chris Duncan’s smash on one hop and make an off-balance but strong throw to first base for the out.

Then Rick Ankiel swung at Lincecum’s very next pitch and broke his bat but managed to bloop the ball into right-center field for a single.

Still, I remain convinced that Lincecum or Matt Cain will throw a no-hitter someday.

Even Bruce Bochy admitted that thoughts of Lincecum pitching a no-hitter crossed his mind, though that’s not the kind of thing a manager often admits.

“To be honest, yeah,” Bochy said. “That’s a good-hitting ballclub over there. But with Timmy, sure.”

But Bochy added, with Ankiel’s hit squarely in mind, “It takes a lot of luck to throw a no-hitter.”

*****

Giants closer Brian Wilson, who has listened ad nauseum to coaches and managers telling him that he must mix up his pitches more, seized upon Mariano Rivera’s milestone 500th save as an example of a pitcher who excels without variety.

“The guy’s gone after hitters with one pitch his whole career,” Wilson said, referring to Rivera’s cut fastball. “Pitching coaches always harp on getting a third pitch, a fourth pitch, and he has always been the case where I’d say, ‘Well, Mariano’s got one pitch, so” — and then dot, dot, dot.

“It’s such a good pitch that it’s really four different types of pitches. He can throw it front door to a righty, back door to a lefty, he can throw it to the other side of the plate and he can throw it down. Maybe that’s all you need. His plate zone because of that pitch is expanded.”

*****

Center fielder Aaron Rowand left Monday’s game in the seventh inning after he was hit above the left knee by a pitch from St. Louis’ Clayton Mortensen, who was making his Major League debut. Rowand hopes to play Tuesday, though he sported an ugly bruise on his leg that’s likely to swell.

– Chris Haft 

Rowand’s unruffled; take the Big Unit test

MIAMI — Giants center fielder Aaron Rowand remained his jovial self after his personal-best, 17-game hitting streak evaporated in an 0-for-4 performance Monday as San Francisco fell to Florida, 4-0.

“It’s not like it was Ryan Zimmerman’s 30-game hitting streak or anything like that,” said Rowand, whose streak was the longest by a Giant since Randy Winn sustained a 20-gamer from April 29-May 21, 2007. “But it was fun. It was cool. I didn’t feel like it was all that big a deal, honestly. I was just trying to win ballgames, trying to go up and take good at-bats. And with the exception of one today [a sixth-inning strikeout against Sean West], I felt three out of four were good at-bats.”

Rowand hit a robust .411 (30-for-73) with three home runs, 10 doubles, 11 RBIs and 10 multi-hit games during his streak, which lifted his overall average from .246 to .309. Wary of jinxing Rowand, print reporters covering the Giants avoided interviewing him as his streak reached the teens. But the intrepid broadcasting pair of Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper had no trouble quizzing Rowand on the subject during Sunday’s postgame show.

“I told them I don’t really get all that worked up about it because I know someday it’s going to end,” Rowand said.

*****

How well do you know baseball?

If you think you’re an expert, try to identify the most crucial juncture in Randy Johnson’s five-inning performance against the Marlins. A lot of folks probably would cite the 1-1 pitch that Brett Carroll socked for a three-run homer in the second inning, which accounted for all the scoring off Johnson.

But Johnson himself said that his real mistake was walking Ronny Paulino, the batter preceding Carroll. Had Johnson retired Paulino, Carroll would have batted with two outs, which probably would have changed the complexion of the inning.

“Anybody that knows a little bit about baseball would probably assume that,” Johnson said. “At least I felt it was.”

– Chris Haft

Rowand ascends to leadoff spot

SAN DIEGO — At the very moment I started to write this, Aaron Rowand doubled off the left-field wall in Wednesday’s fifth inning for his second hit of the game against the San Diego Padres.

Perhaps that’s an indication that manager Bruce Bochy’s lineup innovation will help Rowand and the Giants.

Bochy moved Rowand to the leadoff berth, which he last occupied May 30, 2007 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I just wanted to shake things up a little bit,” went Bochy’s simple explanation. After all, the Giants ranked 14th in the National League in runs scored entering Wednesday.

Rowand, who has hit fifth, sixth and seventh this season, backed Bochy’s decision.

“He asked me what my thoughts were, and I said, ‘I don’t mind,’ ” Rowand said. “If he wants to put me in the ‘one’ hole, I’m completely fine with it.”

Rowand also joked, “I told him it’s about time he realized he should put speed at the top of the lineup, anyway.”

Though Rowand began the game with a .246 batting average, he probably can’t do much worse than the recent Giants leadoff hittters. Fred Lewis and Emmanuel Burriss hit proficiently lower in the order but slumped when Bochy switched them to leadoff. Lewis and Burriss batted .197 and .148, respectively, at leadoff.

Overall, the Giants’ leadoff numbers have been dreadful. Their No. 1 hitters began this game ranked last in the NL in several offensive categories, including batting average (.208), runs (14) and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage, .555). The respective league averages in those categories were .265, 25 and .720.

Rowand spent some time at leadoff during his 2001-05 tenure with the Chicago White Sox, starting 59 games in 73 appearances at that spot before Wednesday. His performance as a leadoff man was respectable, demonstrated by his .293 average and .882 OPS. Rowand also collected 15 home runs and 43 RBIs in 259 at-bats while hitting leadoff.

Of course, a leadoff batter might actually hit first only once a game, as Rowand noted. Thus, he said he felt no pressure to change his hitting approach. “It’s not anything different from hitting anywhere else in the lineup,” he said.

– Chris Haft 

 

It’s Ishikawa, not Aurilia, at first base

SAN FRANCISCO — Contrary to what he announced Tuesday, manager Bruce Bochy started Travis Ishikawa at first base instead of Rich Aurilia on Wednesday afternoon against the San Diego Padres.

Bochy’s explanation was simple: He liked what he saw Tuesday night, when Ishikawa went 2-for-3 with two RBIs. Keeping his bat in the lineup was the right thing to do, Bochy reasoned.

“This is where, as a manager, you have the right to change your mind,” Bochy said. Of Ishikawa, Bochy said, “He looks like he’s being more selective, yet at the same time when he gets his pitches, he’s letting it go.”

Center fielder Aaron Rowand, bothered by a mild ankle injury, received Wednesday off. This, combined with Thursday’s scheduled off-day, should enable Rowand to rejoin the lineup Friday at Arizona.

Patience will be necessary

SAN FRANCISCO — An update: Unfortunately, more showers were expected to hit between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m., endangering Tuesday’s 1:25 p.m. scheduled starting time. Giants managing general partner Bill Neukom urged fans to be patient, indicating that the teams will try to wait out the weather for at least another hour or so.

Meanwhile, most hitters didn’t even bother taking batting practice. Why expend energy prematurely or even unnecessarily? One exception was Aaron Rowand, who strode into the clubhouse with a bat in his hand at around 11:30, having apparently spent some time in the batting cage.

Barry Zito played long toss, but this was part of his usual between-starts routine, not just a way to kill time. Pitchers Brian Wilson, Alex Hinshaw, Joe Martinez and Brandon Medders played bridge, and Rich Aurilia sorted out wristbands, batting gloves and other equipment at his dressing stall. Not too many players watched the Royals-White Sox telecast. Fascinating stuff.

– Chris Haft

 

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