Results tagged ‘ Bengie Molina ’

Velez, not Frandsen, sent down; Renteria returns; Tim’s dry wit

SEATTLE — In a mild surprise, the Giants optioned Eugenio Velez to Triple-A Fresno to clear room for infielder Juan Uribe, who was reinstated from the bereavement list Friday.<p/>

Velez actually had begun to hit proficiently despite playing sporadically. He collected two hits in each of two starts during the San Diego series, hiking his batting average from .111 to .194.

But the Giants want Velez to play more regularly. And manager Bruce Bochy indicated that with only Bengie Molina and Pablo Sandoval available to catch, San Francisco can use the versatility of Frandsen, who has sharpened his skills at the position behind the scenes. Bochy said that Frandsen’s skills behind the plate exceeded those of a typical “emergency” catcher.

Also, as expected, Edgar Renteria returned to shortstop after missing six games with a strained right hamstring. Though Renteria entered Friday hitting a pedestrian .256, he ranked second on the club with 17 RBIs upon being sidelined. Bochy acknowledged that the Giants could have used Renteria during the San Diego series, which consisted of three low-scoring one-run defeats.

“He’s such a professional hitter,” Bochy said of Renteria. “We missed him. We played such tight ballgames. A guy like that could have made a difference in all those games.”

*****

Seattle-area native Tim Lincecum held a dugout news conference for local media hungry for a word from The One Who Got Away.

Lincecum said all the right things, including when he was asked about whether he dwells on the Mariners’ bypassing him in the 2006 First-Year Player Draft. “Not any more,” Lincecum said. “It’s just one of those things that happened and you go with it. I’m happy where I am.”

Lincecum spun a good line when asked what he remembered about Randy Johnson, who he grew up watching when the left-hander starred for the Mariners in the ’90s.

“The mullet and the fastball,” Lincecum said. “Not necessarily in that order.”

– Chris Haft

 

Leftovers from Giants 2, Mets 0 (5/17/09)

SAN FRANCISCO — A lot happened in this riveting game that couldn’t be squeezed into game coverage. In no particular order:

– Breaking down Matt Cain’s triumph was relatively simple. He limited Carlos Beltran, Gary Sheffield and David Wright, New York’s 3-4-5 hitters, to one hit in their first three plate appearances. In the series’ previous three games, that trio combined for 16 hits in their first three plate appearances.

– Kevin Frandsen went 0-for-4 in his (likely brief) return to the Giants, but he still contributed to the victory. He made a slick short-hop pickup as he charged Sheffield’s sixth-inning grounder, and he quickly collaborated with second baseman Emmanuel Burriss on an eighth-inning double play.

– After stealing 13 bases in the series’ first three games, the Mets had none in this one. Bengie Molina threw out Wright at second base in New York’s lone attempted theft.

– Cain on his three consecutive walks in the second inning: “I felt good. I was just missing a little bit here, a little bit there. He [plate umpire Brian Knight] wasn’t giving a ton either. So it was going to have to be that [kind of] day where you’re going to have to get it over the plate a little bit.”

– Brian Wilson, downplaying his ability to bounce back from absorbing defeats Thursday and Friday in the series’ first two games: “That’s what every closer is supposed to do.”

– Chris Haft 

Despite slugging, Molina gets rest

LOS ANGELES — Most managers would have rushed to scribble Bengie Molina’s name on the lineup card after the catcher’s productive offensive effort Thursday. But not only did Bruce Bochy rest Molina in Friday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers, the skipper also cited a few sensible reasons for doing so.

One factor Bochy didn’t mention to reporters, because he didn’t have to, is that Molina has not caught Barry Zito’s last three starts. Pablo Sandoval, who started behind the plate Friday, was Zito’s batterymate twice in that span while Steve Holm caught the other game. Zito has been impressive in those three starts, recording a 1.33 ERA (three earned runs in 20 1/3 innings). Call it coincidence or call it a case of Zito and Molina not being on the same wavelength, which both deny. But with Zito pitching, the timing was right to give Molina a break.

Bochy pointed out that he didn’t want to tire Molina, who caught the first four games of this three-city trip. Moreover, Bochy added that the alternating starting time of those games — night-day-night-day — was grueling enough to prompt a breather for Molina.

Molina, said Bochy, will start Saturday and Sunday, thus restoring the Giants’ biggest offensive threat to the lineup. The 34-year-old entered the game tied for third in the National League with 27 RBIs and had seven home runs, compared to nine for the rest of the team.

So it’s not as if Bochy didn’t want to play Molina. But Bochy also wants to keep him fresh for the duration of the season. “It catches up with you,” Bochy said, referring to Molina’s activity. “I was getting concerned early in April.”

As this is being written, the game’s first pitch is about 45 minutes away. Bet on Molina to appear in the game anyway as a pinch-hitter, as he did in each of the three previous games he didn’t start.

***

Right-hander Sergio Romo keeps progressing. Bochy said that he threw an extended Spring Training game on Friday and will pitch one more of those games before reporting to high-Class A San Jose on Tuesday, assuming the reliever avoids further physical setbacks. Romo, 26, has been sidelined since late February with a strained elbow.

Bochy mentioned that the Giants envision Romo’s pitching at Triple-A Fresno before rejoining the Giants. But Bochy indicated that this step could be skipped — perhaps if Romo pitches unbelievably well at San Jose; perhaps if there happens to be a crying need for another bullpen arm at the Major League level. “Do we think that [Fresno] is a must? No,” Bochy said.

***

The weekly Minor League report issued to the media included the following factoid: Shortstop Brian Bocock was demoted from Double-A Connecticut to San Jose. Bocock, who demonstrated during his Giants stint last year that his hitting wasn’t equal to his fabulous fielding, inspired hopes by hitting a healthy .350 in Cactus League games this year. But his .171 average with Connecticut reflected a regression.

– Chris Haft 

More position-player shuffling in store

SAN FRANCISCO — Manager Bruce Bochy sounded like an editor Wednesday when he said that adding catcher Steve Holm to the club will enable the Giants to have “better coverage.”

Bochy meant better coverage at catcher, a position Bengie Molina had manned for every inning of the previous 13 games. The Giants added Holm not just to serve as Molina’s occasional backup while Pablo Sandoval continues to play third base. Holm will enable the Giants to rest Molina in the late innings, sparing the veteran some wear and tear.

And, of course, Bochy still has the option of doing what he did Wednesday: Starting Sandoval behind the plate and inserting capable utilityman Juan Uribe at third. If Bochy had to remove Sandoval for some reason or switch him to another position, Molina could continue to rest, as long as Holm’s around.

Before the Giants could recall Holm, he had to heal a bruised right elbow he sustained when he was hit by a pitch on April 13. Holm rested a few days before playing Saturday and Sunday for Triple-A Fresno.

Most observers figured that the Giants would summon Holm at some point, given their stated desire to keep a three-catcher contingent (including Sandoval). But Holm himself assumed nothing.

“I didn’t know,” Holm said. “You don’t want to get caught up in stuff like that.”

As has been reported, Holm’s arrival shrank the pitching staff to 11, since reliever Alex Hinshaw was optioned to Fresno. But with only four scheduled off-days between May 1 and the All-Star break that begins July 13, San Francisco’s pitchers could be susceptible to fatigue, meaning another move will have to be made.

“My guess is we’ll go back to 12 (pitchers) at some point,” Bochy said.

Once the Giants feel that need, Holm won’t necessarily be the position player who disappears to the Minors. Eugenio Velez or Andres Torres could be vulnerable instead.

– Chris Haft

Tuesday’s postgame move: Hinshaw out, Holm returns; etc.

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants re-entered the mode they appeared to favor during much of Spring Training — using an 11-man pitching staff and employing three catchers — by optioning left-hander Alex Hinshaw to Triple-A Fresno and recalling Steve Holm after Tuesday’s 8-3 victory over San Diego.<p/>

To answer the question that seemed to be on everybody’s lips, Pablo Sandoval, the everyday third baseman, will still catch Wednesday afternoon’s series finale, as manager Bruce Bochy had announced before Tuesday’s game.

Asked about the timing of the move, Bochy said “it’s getting at that point” where an extra catcher is necessary. Using Sandoval to catch even occasionally is risky, since the Giants don’t want to lose their regular third baseman to one of those injuries that easily strikes catchers.

Besides, Bochy said, “I’m getting concerned about wearing Bengie down, even though it’s early (in the season).” Molina caught every inning of the Giants’ first 13 games.<p/>

Hinshaw, who had an 8.44 ERA in seven appearances, might have been demoted no matter what he did in Tuesday’s game. But he didn’t help himself by falling behind on the count 3-1 against a left-handed batter, Brian Giles, who ultimately singled. Hinshaw did retire Adrian Gonzalez, another left-handed hitter, to end the game. But Hinshaw, who walked five in 5 1/3 innings, might not return until his command does, also.

Besides, with two more scheduled off days coming up each of the next two Thursdays and the starting pitchers beginning to work deeper into games, the Giants figure that they can afford shrinking the staff from 12 to 11.

***

This has nothing to do with anything, but I must confess that sometimes I’m a little TOO old-school.

When Molina just missed tagging out two runners at home plate on the same play Tuesday, my first thought was, “Luke Sewell.” Luke Sewell caught for 20 years in the big leagues between 1921 and 1942 and was good enough to be an All-Star. With Washington in 1933, he also tagged out Lou Gehrig and Dixie Walker at home on the same play. I remembered this because I read about it in “This Great Game,” an early 1970s coffee-table book stuffed with outstanding photographs and historical perspective. I also read a recollection of this play rendered by my patron baseball-writing saint, Roger Angell.

But a Google search revealed a list compiled by Society of American Baseball Research members David Smith and David Vincent, who compiled a list of similar plays — although there have been only about six others remotely like it. Luke Sewell’s was the oldest, chronologically. I swear, sometimes I think I’m a living, breathing rotary phone.

– Chris Haft

Sandoval, Renteria sustain mild injuries

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Third baseman Pablo Sandoval and shortstop Edgar Renteria sustained mild injuries in the Giants’ 11-10 exhibition loss to the San Diego Padres at Peoria, Ariz.

Sandoval sprained his left ankle while trying to avoid a pitch and Renteria developed tightness in his right (throwing) elbow, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. Bochy added that although Sandoval will rest for at least one day, the same injury might not sideline him in the regular season. Renteria, said Bochy, might play Sunday against Milwaukee.

Still, these minor ailments foil Bochy’s plan to play his regulars for three days in a row. He also wants them to play significant numbers of innings to condition them for the regular season. But the slow pace of Saturday’s game — it took about two hours to play four innings — forced Bochy to remove some of his regulars prematurely. Also, catcher Bengie Molina stayed in Scottsdale on Saturday to catch Tim Lincecum in a Minor League exhibition and probably will skip Sunday’s game to collaborate with Randy Johnson, who’s getting his work in by pitching in a Minor League intrasquad game.

Though Friday night’s Jack Taschner trade robbed the Giants of a left-handed relief option, Bochy said that he would not hesitate to use an all-right-handed bullpen, save for Jeremy Affeldt. Asked if he’d find this arrangement comfortable, Bochy said, “It will be if e feel we have at least a guy or two who can get left-handers out. It doesn’t matter if they’re left-handed or right-handed.”

One other news tidbit: Right-hander Osiris Matos stayed at home Saturday with flu-like symptoms.  

Worse than Candlestick? Quite possibly

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — One waited for trailers, cars and phone booths (excuse me, those are scarce nowadays) to blow through Scottsdale Stadium on Thursday night.

The Giants and Cubs played 6 1/2 innings through unforgiving winds before the game was called by agreement among the umpires and the teams’ managers. “You get the risk of injury. For the safety of the players, that was enough.”

The wind, which blew to right field, was measured at 25 mph with gusts reaching 30 mph at gametime. It was generally agreed that conditions worsened as the evening lengthened.

Giants right fielder Randy Winn resembled a cross between Fred Astaire and a drunk as he somehow caught three consecutive fly balls while battling the breezes.

“Miserable,” Winn said, describing the conditions which forced him to douse his eyes with Visine to remove the dirt that blew into them. “It was probably the most challenging outfield I think I’ve ever played.”

Winn never played at Candlestick Park, where the Giants dealt with infamous winds from 1960-1999. “If Candlestick was like that, I wouldn’t have wished that upon anybody,” he said.

Two drives to left field that appeared to be home runs upon contact — by San Francisco’s Bengie Molina in the first inning and Chicago’s Derrek Lee in the fourth — were caught in medium-deep left field, demonstrating the futility of hitting the ball into the wind.

Giants left-hander Barry Zito pitched adequately despite the elements, yielding three runs and seven hits in five innings.

“It was as bad as I’ve ever seen it, windy-wise,” Zito said. “It was really blowing you over in your windup. One time it even blew Bengie back out of his crouch. He had to call time out.”

Zito encouraged the Giants by striking out seven and even fanned the side in the first inning — retiring Alfonso Soriano, Mike Fontenot and Lee consecutively.

“It’s the result of being aggressive and just going after it,” Zito said. “I knew I had the ‘A’ lineup out there tonight. I wanted to come out and make a statement.”

– Chris Haft

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