Results tagged ‘ Bruce Bochy ’
Friday, April 23
SAN FRANCISCO — Fully expecting an answer along the lines of, “Are you kidding?”, I asked manager Bruce Bochy before Friday’s game if he has considered trying Nate Schierholtz as a leadoff hitter during Aaron Rowand’s stay on the disabled list.
Somewhat surprisingly, Bochy said that he has indeed thought about batting Schierholtz leadoff. After San Francisco’s 4-1 victory Friday over the St. Louis Cardinals, Bochy dropped no hints regarding who would lead off Saturday against right-hander Adam Wainwright, St. Louis’ co-ace. Don’t be surprised if it’s Schierholtz, whose playing time in right field has increased lately (though that’s partly due to Rowand’s absence).
The case for Schierholtz:
– He’s hitting .320, and his on-base percentage is .414. Schierholtz has drawn three walks in 30 plate appearances, which isn’t much. But it’s a heck of an improvement over his career ratio. Entering this season, Schierholtz had walked 21 times in 506 plate appearances.
– He’s fast.
– Eugenio Velez, who has been leading off against right-handers since Rowand went on the DL, is in a 1-for-16 skid.
– It’s fair to say that Bochy is reluctant to use Andres Torres, Friday’s leadoff man, against right-handers. Torres, a switch-hitter, batted .210 off righties last year and is 0-for-8 against them this season.
Schierholtz has never started a game at leadoff during his Major League career. But there’s a first time for everything.
– Chris Haft
Tuesday, April 20
SAN DIEGO — I’m not sure whether I committed the following thought to print. I do know that I expressed it in various conversations and voiced it on radio interviews.
Asked when I thought Buster Posey would be promoted to the Majors, I predicted it would happen at the first sign of trouble.
Well, if trouble’s not here, he’s about to pick up his credential granting him access to the Giants’ clubhouse. They’ve lost three games in a row, each by one run; they’re facing a pitcher in Wednesday’s series finale against the Padres (right-hander Jon Garland) who gives them fits; and they’re about to embark upon a homestand in which they’ll face three consecutive 2009 postseason qualifiers — St. Louis, Philadelphia and Colorado.
Right now, a one-out walk constitutes a big rally for the Giants. It’s an opportune time to bring aboard Posey, the heralded prospect who’s batting .354 with a .456 on-base percentage through 12 games with Triple-A Fresno.
But where would Posey play? Catcher Bengie Molina, who’s hitting .351, is part of the short-term solution, not the problem. First baseman Aubrey Huff is batting .288 with a .393 on-base percentage. They occupy the two positions Posey is capable of playing. Unless manager Bruce Bochy is ready to bench Molina and/or Huff at least three times a week so Posey can get appreciable playing time and at-bats. Otherwise, summoning Posey would be a waste … as well as being a potentially costly luxury (assuming Posey stayed in the Majors for good, he’d become eligible for salary arbitration after the 2012 season and would cash in big a year early as a “Super Two,” just as Tim Lincecum did this past off-season).
In a way, there’s no need for the Giants to panic. Their biggest strength, starting pitching, remains intact. But, 1-for-25 through three games with runners in scoring position? It doesn’t get much worse than that.
So let’s see what the Giants do, if anything. I found it interesting to watch general manager Brian Sabean enter San Francisco’s clubhouse. after Tuesday’s loss. He didn’t trudge; he didn’t slouch. He strolled boldly through the clubhouse doors. It’s not too hard to imagine that he made a beeline for Bochy’s office to discuss the struggling offense — with or without Posey.
– Chris Haft
Tuesday, April 6
HOUSTON — John Bowker won the competition to be San Francisco’s Opening Day right fielder. That doesn’t mean he’ll be the everyday right fielder.
With left-hander Wandy Rodriguez starting Tuesday for Houston, Giants manager Bruce Bochy used switch-hitting Andres Torres in right field and sat the left-handed-batting Bowker, who contributed an RBI single to Monday night’s season-opening triumph.
Bochy insisted that it was too early to define this maneuvering as a platoon. But he did say, “Torres did such a great job against left-handers last year (.338) that early on he’s going to get some playing time against them.”
Torres went 0-for-3 with a walk. Meanwhile, Bowker grounded a pinch-hit single in the ninth inning off right-hander Matt Lindstrom.
Also, don’t expect Aaron Rowand to be rested in Wednesday’s series finale, just because he’s 0-for-10.
“It’s two games. It happens,” Bochy said. Reminding interrogators of Rowand’s excellent Cactus League hitting, Bochy added, “He just needs a hit to get going. But I don’t think he needs a day [off].”
– Chris Haft
Thursday, March 25
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants remain hopeful that infielder Emmanuel Burriss can play later this season after undergoing surgery last Sunday on his twice-fractured left foot.
Noted foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson performed the procedure in Charlotte, N.C., replacing the screw inserted in Burriss’ foot after last July’s injury with a larger, longer screw. Ideally, this will prevent recurrences of the injury, such as the one Burriss endured in the Giants’ exhibition opener March 3. Giants head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner said Thursday that Dr. Anderson also extracted some bone marrow from Burriss’ hip and sprayed it across the fracture to facilitate healing.
Groeschner said that Burriss will on crutches for 10 to 14 days before shifting to a walking boot. If all goes well, the 25-year-old switch-hitter could be back on the field in 10 weeks.
Had Burriss remained healthy, he would have had a strong chance of making the Opening Day roster, given his ability to play second base and shortstop with equal skill. Kevin Frandsen’s just as versatile, if not more, but the Giants’ braintrust values Burriss’ speed — which he must strive to regain after his latest mishap.
Manager Bruce Bochy said that second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who has been hitting off a tee, will graduate to taking soft-toss batting practice Friday. Sanchez is still expected to be sidelined until late April or early May as he recovers from left shoulder surgery.
A group of five position players defeated the starting pitchers in a pregame bunting contest, with a Frandsen bunt in the final round providing the difference.
“I consider that an upset,” Bochy said.
In the early rounds, participants were required to drop bunts within rectangles marked by strings about 20 feet up the first- and third-base lines in fair territory. Then third-base coach Tim Flannery, the team’s bunting guru who organized the contest, converted the rectangles to triangles, reducing the area for a “successful” bunt by more than half.
“It was a tough drill,” Bochy said. “A lot of them laid down perfect bunts that weren’t in the box.”
Tim Lincecum, Barry Zito, Matt Cain, Jonathan Sanchez and Todd Wellemeyer represented the pitchers, while Frandsen, Andres Torres, Mark DeRosa, Pablo Sandoval and Eugenio Velez bearing the standard for the position players.
– Chris Haft
GLENDALE, Ariz. — Matt Cain had every right to feel tired Tuesday. But he didn’t look fatigued at all.
Cain recorded the longest Cactus League outing by a Giants starter so far, working 6 2/3 innings in Tuesday’s 6-1 victory over the Chicago White Sox. The Giants improved their Major League-best spring record to 16-6 with their sixth consecutive victory and seventh in their last eight games.
Cain surrendered just three hits. Fifth-inning fielding errors committed by first baseman Aubrey Huff and second baseman Matt Downs largely accounted for the lone, unearned run Cain yielded.
Though Cain pitched six innings in his previous appearance, a Minor League exhibition game last Thursday,the deepest he had gone in an exhibition game was a mere three innings. He relished the opportunity to push himself.
“You get to that kind of tired point and you have to start using your legs,” Cain said. “That’s what you want to get to toward the end of spring, to be able to carry that over into the season.”
Cain issued his first walk of the exhibition season when Paul Konerko drew a free pass with two outs in the fourth inning. That remained Cain’s lone walk in 15 1/3 innings this spring. The right-hander struck out just two batters but recorded several outs early in the count, helping him stay on the mound longer.
Cain augmented his effectiveness by using his slider for the first time this spring. “I’m feeling pretty good about everything,” he said. “I’m trying to make sure I can hit both sides of the plate with my fastball and throw strikes with my offspeed stuff.”
The afternoon’s oddest play occurred in the fourth inning, when Chicago’s Gordon Beckham led off with a popup behind the mound. Huff and shortstop Edgar Renteria converged on the ball and collided. Renteria nevertheless caught the ball and held onto it while Huff fell over backward. Still on the ground, Huff pointed at Renteria as he asked him whether he made the catch.
“I will say, Huff wanted the ball,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Third baseman Pablo Sandoval ended his three-game absence in fine fashion by doubling twice in four at-bats, scoring a run and driving in one. “He didn’t look like he missed a beat,” Bochy said of Sandoval, who needed five stitches to close a cut on his right ankle last Friday after he slid into Cleveland catcher Lou Marson’s shinguard.
– Chris Haft
GOODYEAR, Ariz. — Andres Torres owns a creditable .310 batting average. But as a switch-hitter who’s naturally bats right-handed, he’s susceptible to flaws hitting left-handed.
So Torres listened intently the other day when one of the best left-handed hitters in Giants history — heck, in all of history — summoned him for a chat. Hello, Mr. Willie Lee McCovey.
Sitting in front of the Giants dugout at Scottsdale Stadium, McCovey watched Torres take batting practice and noticed that the outfielder was wagging his bat excessively as he waited for the pitch. That might work for Barry Bonds, but not for Torres, who needs to hit line drives and grounders to capitalize on his speed.
“Wrapping” his bat — angling the barrel toward the pitcher — produced too many harmless fly balls.So McCovey advised Torres on Sunday to hold his bat straighter. “He told me to be more ‘quiet,’ because I was doing too much movement,” Torres said Tuesday.
Torres stuck with his old habits in Monday’s exhibition against Texas, but he tried McCovey’s method on Tuesday in batting practice and in the Giants’ 7-1 loss to the Cleveland Indians. Torres went 1-for-3 in the game and believes that McCovey’s advice will help.
“You have more time to go straight to the ball,” Torres said. “It makes sense.”
Second baseman Freddy Sanchez, who remains limited to hitting balls off a tee, sounded doubtful about appearing in an exhibition to test his recovering left shoulder before the Giants leave Arizona on March 31.
“That hasn’t even been discussed,” Sanchez said.
Sanchez added that he has practiced tee hitting seven times so far. Taking “soft-toss” batting practice — hitting balls flipped underhanded — will be the next step in his progression.
Buster Posey started his first game of the spring at first base and played error-free, though he was challenged occasionally by relatively unfamiliar plays — such as when he had to throw to Tim Lincecum covering first base in the third inning.
“He looks more and more comfortable over there,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Posey, who went 1-for-3 and is batting .429.
It’s fairly obvious, isn’t it? The more the Giants utilize with Posey like this, the more evident it is that they’re intensely curious about finding any way they can to get him on the field (and in the batter’s box) on the Major League level.
The Giants announced their first round of roster cuts after Tuesday’s game. First baseman Brett Pill was optioned out while shortstop Ehire Adrianza, second baseman Nick Noonan, outfielders Wendell Fairley and Thomas Neal and catchers Johnny Monell, Hector Sanchez and Jackson Williams were reassigned to Minor League camp.
Also, right-hander Steve Johnson cleared waivers and was offered back to the Baltimore Orioles, his previous organization.
San Francisco selected Johnson, 22, for $50,000 in last December’s Rule 5 draft. Under terms of the draft, if the Giants determined that Johnson wouldn’t make their Opening Day roster, he had to be offered back to Baltimore for half of the $50,000 purchase price. Johnson recorded a 5.79 ERA in three Cactus League appearances.
The moves left the Giants with 56 players in Major League camp.
– Chris Haft
Tim Lincecum’s appearance Tuesday against the Cleveland Indians will almost surely be his last against Major League competition until next week.
The right-hander’s following turn would come against Arizona on Sunday in Tucson, but the Giants would prefer to spare him the four-hour round trip. So fifth starter candidate Kevin Pucetas will face the Diamondbacks while Lincecum remains in Scottsdale to pitch in a Minor League intrasquad or exhibition game.
Assuming the Giants remain in a five-day pitching rotation, Lincecum’s next outing against big league competition will be Friday, March 26 against the Los Angeles Angels.
Who says Spring Training dates aren’t important? The Giants and Kansas City Royals will make up their March 7 rainout on Wednesday, March 24 in Surprise beginning at 6:05 p.m. That turns the day’s activities for the Giants into a day-night doubleheader, combined with their regularly scheduled game against Cincinnati at 1:05 p.m.
Guillermo Mota looked impressive in the Giants’ split-squad loss to San Diego, working two scoreless innings in a starting role. Manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Mota maintains a strong chance of claiming a spot as a middle reliever on the Opening Day roster.
Sergio Romo finished the Giants’ 8-5 split-squad victory over Texas with a perfect ninth inning. Romo has allowed just two hits in 20 at-bats (.100) and is unscored upon in six appearances.
– Chris Haft
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants will face some heavy thinking if Buster Posey sustains his offensive surge.
Posey collected two hits for the second day in a row Saturday in the Giants’ 8-7 split-squad exhibition loss to Oakland. The rookie catcher, renowned as San Francisco’s top position-player prospect, lifted his batting average to .368 and his slugging percentage to .632.
Because Posey has been expected to begin the season with Triple-A Fresno so he could gain experience, manager Bruce Bochy was asked if the 22-year old might be forcing the Giants’ braintrust to reconsider that plan.
“It’s good to see Buster swinging like this,” Bochy said. “It’s really a matter of time. Buster can hit. As we get deeper into spring I can answer those questions a little better. It’s early, but he’s doing what we wanted him to do.”
Bochy plainly stated that he won’t bury Posey on San Francisco’s bench. “We want to continue his development. We don’t want him sitting,” Bochy said. “It’s a matter of if we think he would get enough playing time to warrant being on the club to help us or to continue his progress so we have him ready.”
Bochy added that Posey “possibly” will start a game at first base to help the Giants gauge whether he could play there occasionally. But Bochy also reiterated that he won’t sacrifice Posey’s growth as a catcher to experiment with him at other positions. “I like the way he’s catching. I want to keep him sharp back there,” Bochy said.
In quick succession:
– Tim Lincecum will receive four days’ rest, his full regular-season complement, before making his next start Tuesday against Cleveland. Madison Bumgarner will start Monday night’s split-squad game against Texas while a host of relievers will work the evening’s other split-squad game against San Diego.
– Kevin Pucetas remained in contention for the fifth starter’s spot by throwing three hitless innings in the Giants’ other split-squad contest, an 8-4 victory over Seattle. Pucetas is unscored upon in seven innings spanning three appearances and has allowed three hits. He has walked none and struck out three.
– Right-hander Joe Martinez, the fifth starter candidate who allowed four runs in one inning in his lone spring appearance, believes that the inflammation in his throwing elbow will have subsided enough to allow him to resume throwing in a couple of days.
– This isn’t shocking news, but Bochy made his strongest declaration yet regarding second baseman Freddy Sanchez’s unavailability for the April 5 regular-season opener at Houston. “He’s not going to be ready,” Bochy said of Sanchez, who’s recovering from a left shoulder injury. “He’s come along fine, but there’s not enough time.”
– First baseman Travis Ishikawa (torn ligaments in left foot) might be ready to resume playing in about a week, Bochy said.
– Right-hander Matt Cain admitted that he elevated some breaking pitches while allowing Oakland five runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings. However, Cain still hasn’t walked a batter in 8 2/3 innings this spring. “It obviously means you’re around the strike zone,” Cain said, pleased with this development.
– Right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, stuck in the Dominican Republic with visa problems, finally arrived in camp and struck out the only batter he faced, Ryan Sweeney, to end the fifth inning against Oakland.
– Chris Haft
TUCSON, Ariz. — Buster Posey demonstrated Friday why the Giants drafted him fifth overall and handed him a $6.2 million signing bonus two years ago.
Posey opened the scoring in the Giants’ 9-2 exhibition victory over the Colorado Rockies with a two-out, first-inning single off Jorge De La Rosa, last year’s winningest National League left-hander with a 16-9 record. Posey drove in the final run in San Francisco’s four-run fifth inning with a double to left-center, a line drive that touched down in the middle of the outfield but was hit so hard that Rockies center fielder Carlos Gonzalez couldn’t catch up with it.
Posey also unleashed a fourth-inning throw to second base that nullified the decent jump Troy Tulowitzki got on a steal attempt. The throw beat Tulowitzki, but umpire Chris Guccione changed his call from “out” to “safe” when shortstop Kevin Frandsen dropped the ball.
“The more action he has gotten, the more comfortable he is,” Bochy said of Posey, who’s batting .333 (5-for-15) this spring and is competing with Eli Whiteside for the backup catching job.
Bochy was particularly impressed with Posey’s throw on Tulowitzki. “Electric,” said Bochy, adding that the Giants’ staff timed Posey’s release at 1.9 seconds. The Major League average is 2.0.
Andres Torres also turned in a strong all-around performance, doubling twice in three at-bats and ranging far and wide in center field to record four putouts in the first two innings. By that time, Bochy said, “He pretty much locked up the game ball.”
Four of Torres’ five hits this spring have gone for extra bases, explaining why his slugging percentage (.556) doubles his batting average (.278).
In Scottsdale, left-hander Barry Zito remained on his work schedule by throwing 60 pitches in the equivalent of five innings against Minor Leaguers. Zito yielded two hits and no runs while walking none, striking out one and hitting a batter.
This was likely the Giants’ final spring game at Hi Corbett Field, since the Rockies are moving to a Phoenix-area facility next year. The cozy ballpark, which was built in 1937, is so old that Hall of Famer Bob Feller actually pitched in it.
The Giants and Rockies received an unofficial flyover during the National Anthem as a pair of Air Force jets returned to a nearby base. Several other planes flew overhead during the afternoon.
“I did think about it,” Bochy said of the Giants’ finale. “As much as the game, I’m going to miss the planes, the show they put on sometimes.”
– Chris Haft
MESA, Ariz. — Jonathan Sanchez distinguished himself last year by pitching a no-hitter and ranking fourth among National League pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings and opponents’ batting average.
But that wasn’t all.
Opponents stole 24 bases while Sanchez was on the mound, the NL’s highest total. Though the responsibility for some those thefts rested with Giants catchers, basestealers undoubtedly capitalized on Sanchez’s leisurely pitching motion.
Toward the end of last season, Sanchez began working more intently with pitching coach Dave Righetti on improving his slide-step to home plate and his pickoff move to first base. Sanchez’s improvement with the latter was evident against the Chicago Cubs in Wednesday’s first inning, when he picked off Ryan Theriot.
“I had too many stolen bases last year,” said Sanchez, who practiced his move in the offseason in front of a mirror.
The successful pickoff contributed to the impression that Sanchez is poised for a breakout season. He blanked Chicago for three innings in the Giants’ 5-1 victory and is unscored upon over five innings in two exhibition appearances.
“My fastball was jumping out of my hand,” said Sanchez, who also expressed satisfaction with his offspeed pitches.
Sanchez, who’s expected to start the Giants’ April 9 home opener against Atlanta, said that he’s not yet ready for the regular season. “But I’m close,” he said. “Almost there.”
The competition for reserve roles on the Opening Day roster is too close to call at this juncture. Most of the contenders are playing well, and the remaining ones have not eliminated themselves.
John Bowker is batting .333 (6-for-18) with a team-high 11 total bases. He also has a .611 slugging percentage and a .429 on-base percentage.
Eugenio Velez and Kevin Frandsen are hitting .385 and .357, respectively.
Fred Lewis is hitting only .214 but has a .571 slugging percentage, thanks to a home run and a triple. Similarly, Andres Torres owns a .250 batting average but a .500 slugging percentage.
Manager Bruce Bochy knows that the Giants’ 7-1 Cactus League record is largely meaningless, though he pointed out that it does carry some significance.
“The one thing it indicates is that the kids are playing well,” he said, referring to San Francisco’s rookie corps. “They’re playing half the game and doing a great job.”
Bochy added that this will end after the weekend. Next week, he said, San Francisco’s regulars will begin playing together more frequently.
Right-hander Joe Martinez is experiencing soreness in his right shoulder and is expected to undergo an MRI to determine the source of his discomfort.
– Chris Haft