Results tagged ‘ Eli Whiteside ’

More from Friday (Giants 1, Padres 0)

Friday, Sept. 10

SAN DIEGO — Ah, the little things. They make such a big difference, as was the case Friday night in the Giants’ 1-0 victory over San Diego that pulled them into a virtual tie for first place in the National League West.

Here’s a partial list of the little things that fueled not just this triumph but also San Francisco’s postseason hopes:

– Catcher Eli Whiteside’s strong throw that apprehended Everth Cabrera, who tried to steal second base in the eighth inning. “That kind of sealed it for us,” Giants closer Brian Wilson said.

– Nate Schierholtz’s hustling slide into second baseman David Eckstein to break up a seventh-inning double play and enable the Giants to tally the game’s lone run. “He [Eckstein] was right on top of the bag and I was able to get a piece of him,” Schierholtz said.

– Juan Uribe’s defense. He assisted on four putouts, three involving Miguel Tejada.

– Chris Haft

Whiteside-for-Posey move confounds many

Monday, July 5

MILWAUKEE — The Giants’  4-3 loss Sunday could be remembered for its sheer duration (15 innings spanning five hours and 24 minutes), its novelty (the back-to-back homers by Nate Schierholtz and Andres Torres, with the latter being inside-the-park — the first such tandem of homers by Giants since Mays/McCovey in 1966) or its agony (the Giants’ 10th defeat in 12 games).

Judging from the reaction back home and wherever Giants fans reside, none of this matters to the public. You — and your opinion counts, because you buy tickets and drive TV/radio ratings — are incensed over manager Bruce Bochy’s use of Eli Whiteside to pinch run for Buster Posey in the eighth inning.

Bochy explained after the game that he wanted Whiteside on the basepaths instead of Posey, who had just singled Pablo Sandoval to third. “On a ball in the gap, he [Whiteside] is going to score,” Bochy said. “He runs well. Which almost happened.” That last remark was a reference to Travis Ishikawa’s two-out single, which sent home Sandoval and moved Whiteside to third. But Edgar Renteria grounded out, the score remained tied 3-3 and you know the rest.

You’re disturbed because Whiteside went 0-for-3 with two strikeouts, including a 13th-inning whiff with Aubrey Huff on third base and one out and a popup to end the 15th with Huff on second base. You’re annoyed because Whiteside was charged with a throwing error in the 14th that put Seth Smith on third base with nobody out (though Guillermo Mota, the eventual losing pitcher, admirably escaped that jam). You’re confounded because you’re wondering whether Whiteside really is that much faster than Posey.

From my vantage point, he isn’t. But I will never pretend to know half as much about baseball as Bochy or any of his coaches. At the same time, y’all are UPSET. It just adds to the rising tide of discontent surrounding the Giants that probably won’t ebb right away, unless they go on a nice little 12-game winning streak.

Today’s game is about four hours away as I write this. Can’t wait, can you? My best guess is that Whiteside won’t be running for Posey today — mainly because Huff, who did virtually everything he could to try to win Sunday’s game, will be worn out and in need of a rest. So Posey probably will play first while Whiteside catches.

After Sunday, what else can befall the Giants?

– Chris Haft

Plenty to salvage for Giants in defeat

Saturday, May 8

NEW YORK — The Giants actually did a lot more right than they did wrong on Saturday. But their 5-4 loss to the New York Mets obscured that.

Many of their 44 plate appearances resulted in quality at-bats. Aubrey Huff made solid contact each time up. Aaron Rowand, after going 0-for-3, came through with a key single in the Giants’ two-run eighth inning that tied the score. Juan Uribe had a big two-out RBI single in the fourth. Eli Whiteside reached base safely in three of his four plate appearances, singling solidly twice.

Nate Schierholtz lined a pinch-hit single to lead off the eighth against Johan Santana and is now batting .471 (8-for-17) against left-handers. Facing Mets closer Francisco Rodriguez for the second game in a row, pinch-hitter John Bowker didn’t hit another home run, but managed to coax a 10th-inning walk.

As for struggling Pablo Sandoval, the Kung Fu Panda still looked like he was fighting himself. But he wasn’t helpless, either. He blooped a fourth-inning single to right-center field and launched an eighth-inning sacrifice fly off Santana on a two-strike count. “That was a little relief for him,” manager Bruce Bochy said, summarizing Sandoval’s day. “I thought he took some better swings.”

Bochy will take all of this into account as he assembles Sunday’s lineup. He didn’t rule out resting Sandoval, who has started all 29 games at third base. Schierholtz likely will return to right field; his prowess against lefties — the Giants face Mets southpaw Oliver Perez — doesn’t hurt.

On to the pitching. Brandon Medders recorded what might have been his best outing of the season, working 2 2/3 scoreless innings to trim his ERA from 6.23 to 4.76. Jeremy Affeldt blew away the Mets for two innings, striking out two. The pair of eighth-inning hits he allowed were bloops that no fielder could reach. “That was the best I’ve felt all year,” Affeldt said. This is particularly encouraging for the Giants, who are relying on Affeldt to be a shutdown setup man.

“I was aggressive early [in the count],” he said. “I was getting strike one instead of falling behind early. I threw curveballs for strikes when I needed to and for balls when I needed to.”

About the only thing the Giants neglected to do was win.

– Chris Haft

Sandoval looks slick; Romo feels relieved

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Pablo Sandoval presumably has more work to do before he reaches what the Giants consider an acceptable playing weight, but the third baseman looked nimble enough in their 5-3 exhibition victory Thursday over the Milwaukee Brewers.

Playing his first Cactus League game, Sandoval moved quickly to his left to snare catcher Eli Whiteside’s wide throw as Brewers baserunner Rickie Weeks, who had broken for second base, tried to advance to third once Barry Zito’s first-inning pitch went to the backstop. Sandoval deftly grabbed Whiteside’s one-hop peg and tagged out Weeks.

Sandoval also made a nice play to open the third inning as he charged Corey Hart’s roller and made a strong off-balance throw to first for the out.

*****

Right-hander Sergio Romo observed his 27th birthday Thursday. In his mind, he had more to celebrate than turning one year older.

Romo pointed out that he strained his throwing elbow last year in the second exhibition game and first home date of the Cactus League season, when he yielded six ninth-inning runs to the Los Angeles Dodgers.

So when Romo took the mound in the ninth inning against the Brewers, all he wanted to do was leave the game physically whole.

“I didn’t care what happened today,” Romo said. “They could have lit me up.” That didn’t come close to happening, as Romo struck out two in a perfect inning to record a save.

Romo, who the Giants are counting on to shoulder part of the late-inning setup load, praised the Giants’ athletic training staff for keeping him sound.

“I worked with them all offseason,” he said. “This is probably the most healthy I’ve been.”

*****

Two days, two at-bats and two hits for Jesus Guzman, who commanded attention with his torrid hitting last spring. “He’s starting up again, isn’t he?” manager Bruce Bochy said.

Another fast starter is Kevin Frandsen, who’s 3-for-5 in two games. Frandsen, who’s competing for a reserve middle infield role, could benefit from increased exposure while Emmanuel Burriss (left foot) is sidelined.

– 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 

Lincecum makes another tuneup

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s February 26, not April 26 or September 26, so the sight of Tim Lincecum yielding line drives to John Bowker on back-to-back pitches Friday shouldn’t be alarming.

If anything, it was an encouraging sign from Bowker, who’s competing for a reserve outfield spot.

Bowker pounded a curveball that Lincecum dangled and a fastball that the two-time Cy Young Award winner left over the plate. Lincecum then coaxed a swing and a miss from Bowker on a breaking ball.

Overall, it was a matter of “getting work in” for Lincecum, who threw approximately 40 pitches to Bowker, Jesus Guzman, Brett Pill and Hector Sanchez. Lincecum is scheduled to start Wednesday’s Cactus League opener against Seattle.

*****

Second baseman Freddy Sanchez has insisted that his recovery from left shoulder surgery is ahead of schedule, and he’s about to prove it. Sanchez is expected to begin fielding ground balls Saturday in his first baseball-related activity since his Dec. 23 operation.

“Awesome” was how Sanchez described his feelings.

Sanchez still isn’t certain when he’ll begin swinging a bat, and he remains likely to open the season on the 15-day disabled list.

*****

Bruce Bochy, who possesses a dry and underappreciated wit, spun a good line when he delivered the news that catcher Eli Whiteside’s wife, Amy, gave birth to the couple’s first child, Whit.

Somebody asked whether the infant had gray hair, referring to Whiteside’s prematurely whitening locks. Bochy paused for a beat and replied, “DARK gray.”

*****

MLB Network will provide delayed telecasts of four Giants exhibitions from the Cactus League: March 16 vs. Cleveland, March 20 vs. Cincinnati, March 25 vs. Oakland and March 27 against the Los Angeles Angels.

– Chris Haft 

Lincecum’s next start pushed back a day

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants announced what appeared to be a wise move after Sunday’s 9-5 victory, disclosing that right-hander Tim Lincecum’s next start will be delayed by a day.

Lincecum thus will start in Philadelphia on Thursday, giving him five days’ rest — one more than usual. He threw a season-high 127 pitches during his eight shutout innings Friday against Colorado, compelling the Giants to allow him more recovery time.

The ubiquitous To Be Announced temporarily fills Wednesday’s spot in the Giants’ rotation. They can’t recall right-hander Joe Martinez, who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on Friday and must stay there at least 10 days (a period which extends virtually to the end of the Minor League regular season). Other possibilities abound at Fresno, including Ryan Sadowski, who had an earlier stint with the Giants; Matt Kinney or Ramon Ortiz, both big league veterans, or 10-game winner Steve Hammond.

***** 
Eli Whiteside, who caught all six games of the Giants’ homestand while Bengie Molina nursed a tight right quadriceps, contributed significantly to the club’s success. He hit only .238 (5-for-21), but threw out three of four runners attempting to steal bases and handled the pitchers smoothly.

“He saved us on this homestand with his play,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Any time you have a guy who has spent some time in the Minor Leagues like Eli has, they learn the game. They get so much more experience versus a young guy who might be rushed up here.”

*****

There was no such thing as a routine fly ball at AT&T Park on Sunday. It could have been the shifting breezes; it could have been the changing sky, as the fog burned off and the sun alternately retreated behind and emerged from clouds.

Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa had an adventurous time with Troy Tulowitzki’s third-inning popup, falling over backward at the pitcher’s mound after making an off-balance catch. Colorado left fielder Ryan Spilborghs seemed to have a shot at catching Fred Lewis’ sixth-inning double but missed it, and right fielder Brad Hawpe played Juan Uribe’s eighth-inning fly ball into a single and a two-base error.

“The park was playing a little funny today,” Giants right-hander Matt Cain said. “Balls were going a little farther than they should, the way this park [usually] plays. … Once it went up in the air, you really didn’t know where it was going to go or where it was going to come down.”

– Chris Haft

 

Lewis finds power source: Griffey

SEATTLE — Fred Lewis politely said that he didn’t want to delve too deeply into his home run surge, which consists of two in two days.

But another Giant helpfully pointed out that Lewis tends to flex his muscles whenever he’s playing in front of his baseball hero, Ken Griffey Jr.

There’s definitely something to this theory.

The first time Lewis played against Griffey, during a 2007 Giants-Reds series in Cincinnati, Lewis hit a grand slam on July 4 at Great American Ball Park.

Last year, Lewis homered on April 26, the middle game of a Giants-Reds three-game series at AT&T Park.

Now this, with Griffey in the Seattle Mariners dugout. Maybe the Giants should leave a life-sized cardboard image of Griffey in Lewis’ locker.

*****

As you might guess, getting to Seattle from Des Moines, Iowa, was quite an adventure for Eli Whiteside.

Summoned to the Giants to provide catching depth, Whiteside learned of the move Saturday night after Triple-A Fresno’s game at Iowa, too late to go anywhere. So he caught a 6:30 a.m. flight from Des Moines, changed planes in Minneapolis and headed for Seattle, where he arrived at 11 a.m. He reached Safeco Field at about 45 minutes later, not knowing he was in the lineup against the Seattle Mariners.

“That was the best thing about all of it,” Whiteside said, not minding at that he was thrust so quickly into a Major League game. “I didn’t have time to think about anything, pretty much. Just get in there and play.”

That’s something Whiteside hadn’t done in the Majors since the end of the 2005 season with Baltimore. Many players would have given up beating their head against the wall, but not Whiteside.

“It’s something I’ve been waiting for for four or five years now, since the last time I was up here,” he said.

– Chris Haft

 

Stuff that Giants fans need to know

SAN FRANCISCO — Before Friday night’s exhibition against the Oakland A’s, Giants manager Bruce Bochy reiterated that the club’s braintrust is inclined to open the regular season with a 12-man pitching staff rather than an 11-man contingent.

Reasons are varied. Starters might not be prepared to pitch deep into games this early in the season. Rookie right-hander Joe Martinez might be well-suited for long relief duty, but if he is unavailable or not even on the team, the Giants will need multiple one-inning relievers to fill the “long” role.

Bochy acknowledged that the Giants might change their minds on this subject before they announce roster cuts, which could come as early as after Saturday’s game against the A’s in Oakland.

Also subject to change is the two-catcher versus three-catcher issue. The Giants are likely to keep Pablo Sandoval as their lone extra catcher — a considerable risk, given his status as the starting third baseman — and demote Steve Holm to Triple-A Fresno.

At the very least, Bochy gave Holm his due. “Steve Holm has played very well,” Bochy said of the Sacramento native, who entered the game batting .279. If it’s any comfort to Holm and his fans, Bochy indicated that the two-catcher plan might not last much beyond April, when the team has four scheduled off-days.

Quickies: The Giants and A’s mutually agreed to use designated hitters Friday, even though they were playing in a National League park. Bochy said that he didn’t want Randy Johnson, his starting pitcher, bothering with the task of hitting. “With Randy going today, we just want him to concentrate on pitching,” Bochy said.

– Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, whose left index finger has sufficiently healed from his cooking accident, threw in the bullpen and, in Bochy’s words, is “good to go” and will start Sunday’s exhibition finale against the Dodgers. 

– The Giants will summon six players from Minor League camp to use as substitutes for their final two exhibitions: outfielder Mike McBryde, catcher Eli Whiteside, right-handers Keiichi Yabu and Ramon Ortiz, and infielders Matt Downs and Jake Wald.

– Chris Haft

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