Results tagged ‘ Dan Runzler ’

Uggla to SF? Stranger things have happened

Thursday, Nov. 11

SAN FRANCISCO — Let the Dan Uggla-to-the-Giants rumors resume.

Maybe such talk is premature or even foolish, given Uggla’s stated desire to remain with the Florida Marlins despite the club’s apparent shutdown of talks regarding a contract extension.

And if the Giants didn’t part with Madison Bumgarner or Jonathan Sanchez for Uggla when they previously had a chance, as was rumored, they won’t do so now. Not with Bumgarner and Sanchez having thrived in the second half and through most of the postseason for the World Series winners.

But if Uggla, who’s eligible for salary arbitration, begins the 2011 season with the Marlins, they’ll almost have no choice but to trade him if the team falls out of contention by July. That might be the best time for the Giants to pounce, since the “price” on Uggla could be deflated somewhat by his impending free agency following next season.

Here’s another thing: While speaking with Florida-area reporters on Thursday after winning the Silver Slugger, Ugga professed his undying love for Miami and its enrivons. He also mentioned the joy he felt after his dear friend, Marlins-turned-Giants outfielder Cody Ross, won the World Series with San Francisco.

It’s safe to assume that Ross has to’d Uggla, who’s probably play third with the Giants, about the joys of performing for a successful team. Even if Uggla’s productivity dropped — another safe assumption, considering he’d be playing half of his games at AT&T Park — he’d boost the offense considerably.

Keep an eye on this one.

– Chris Haft

 

Posey plays complete game in more ways than one

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Starting his first Cactus League game of this spring at catcher, Buster Posey demonstrated why he’s the Giants’ top position-player prospect.

Posey excelled defensively, which is always a catcher’s top priority, while playing all nine innings of the Giants’ 6-2 exhibition victory over the Chicago White sox. He threw out a Sox baserunner attempting to steal second, barely missed nabbing another runner and looked nimble overall.

Posey also rapped two hits, including an opposite-field home run to right in the Giants’ five-run eighth inning, though even he admitted that the drive was windblown.

A change at catcher is not imminent. Bengie Molina will remain the primary starter, and, as everybody who has been paying attention knows, Posey might open the season at Triple-A Fresno. Still, this was a step forward for Posey, especially since he shared game experience with five pitchers (Matt Cain, Jeremy Affeldt, Brian Wilson, Dan Runzler and Sergio Romo) who almost certainly will be mainstays for the Giants.

“He’s very observant,” Cain said of Posey. “He tries to see what you want to do. He asks questions. He does a great job on that part. He learns really quickly with catching guys.”

One of Posey’s finer moments was a quintessential not-in-the-boxscore play. In the third inning, speedy Juan Pierre chopped a pitch in front of home plate. Pierre didn’t move, believing the ball was foul. But Posey sprang from his crouch, grabbed the ball and tagged Pierre about as quickly as you can say, “You’re out.”

Posey explained that plays like that are why catchers work so diligently at improving their lower-body “explosion” through weightlifting. The more leg strength a catcher possesses, the quicker he can propel himself.

“That’s the type of stuff you can’t really work on,” Posey said, referring to the Pierre play, “other than in the weight room.”

Posey’s pair of hits lifted his spring average from .143 to .273. “I’ve felt pretty good the whole time,” he said. “My timing’s there, though I’ve clipped the ball a little bit or rolled it over.”

– Chris Haft

Ishikawa sidelined but not forgotten

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Travis Ishikawa likely remains more than a week away from participating in workouts as he nurses the torn ligaments in his left foot. As part of a deep and relatively talented group of projected reserves, he conceivably faces a stiff challenge for a spot on the Opening Day roster.

Yet manager Bruce Bochy indicated Saturday that Ishikawa, despite losing his role as the Giants’ primary first baseman to free agent Aubrey Huff, has strong chance of claiming a Major League job.

It helps that Ishikawa plays excellent defense and hit .349 in 62 games at AT&T Park last year. The rest of the team batted .263 at home.

“You saw what he did at home. He’s a threat,” Bochy said. “I think ‘Ishi’ has shown that he can do some things to help you win ballgames. He’s still in the mix here.”

Ishikawa has tried to stay as sharp as possible by hitting off a tee and throwing in a batting cage, which he can do while wearing a walking boot on his left foot. Ishikawa, who underwent an MRI on Friday and saw a doctor Saturday, said that he’ll probably have to wear the boot for at least a week. But he’s healing.

“At least it’s going in the right direction,” he said.

*****

The Giants receive little “down” time in Spring Training. Their only scheduled off-day in the Cactus League season is March 18.

So Bochy, after consulting with general manager Brian Sabean, decided to excuse the team from workouts Tuesday. San Francisco opens the exhibition season Wednesday against Seattle.

Lest you think the Giants are a bunch of slackers, remember that they opened camp before most of their Cactus League brethren.

“We’ve had some long days here,” Bochy said. “This gives them a chance to freshen up before games start.”

*****

The alternative rock group O.A.R. visited Scottsdale Stadium and met several Giants, including leading musicologist Tim Lincecum, before Saturday’s workout. The group, in town for a concert, filmed excerpts for an upcoming video. Accompanied by Lincecum, band members took the mound and held a contest to see who could throw the hardest fastball. Left-hander Alex Hinshaw, another music enthusiast, served as catcher, while infielder Kevin Frandsen provided encouragement.

*****

Injury updates, comings and goings:

Second baseman Freddy Sanchez, recovering from left shoulder surgery, felt healthy and enthusiastic after his initial session of fielding ground balls. Sanchez said that he’ll continue to take grounders daily, though no timetable has been set for when he’ll begin swinging a bat.

Infielder-outfielder Mark DeRosa (left wrist) still hasn’t swung against Giants pitchers in “live” batting practice, though he has taken hundreds of hacks in the cages and against coaches. Bochy said he wasn’t sure when restrictions on DeRosa will be lifted, but it could be soon. “He’s eager to start letting it go,” Bochy said.

Catcher Eli Whiteside returned a day earlier than expected after his wife, Amy, gave birth to their first child, Whit.

Left-hander Madison Bumgarner returned home to North Carolina for personal reasons. He’s expected to return Sunday night and should make his scheduled appearance in Wednesday’s exhibition opener. Left-hander Dan Runzler was sent home with the flu.

Last but not least, pitching coach Dave Righetti was excused to travel to the Chicago area to be inducted into the National Italian American Sports Hall of Fame. Former big leaguer Gary Gaetti was among the other inductees.

– Chris Haft 

The remarkable Mr. Runzler

PHILADELPHIA — For a Minor Leaguer to earn promotion to a higher classification is accomplishment enough. To be summoned to the Majors is greater still.

With that in mind, what Dan Runzler has done this year is off the charts.

Runzler, a 24-year-old left-hander, began the season at Augusta, the Giants’ low-Class A affiliate. He ascended to high-Class A San Jose. He didn’t stop there, progressing to Double-A Connecticut and Triple-A Fresno. Finally, he impressed enough people with his 5-1 record and 0.76 ERA in 47 appearances to have his contract purchased by the Giants on Wednesday.

“Talk about climbing the ladder,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “He took it a rung at a time to get here.”

Runzler, San Francisco’s ninth-round selection in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, credited ex-Giants left-hander Steve Kline, Augusta’s pitching coach, for hastening his rise. Runzler related that Kline advised him to “pitch to contact” — that is, let the hitters put the ball in play, albeit harmlessly. Runzler nevertheless struck out 83 batters in 59 innings.

“He’s phenomenal in all aspects of the game,” Runzler said of Kline, who he continues to consult by phone.

– Chris Haft 

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