Results tagged ‘ Emmanuel Burriss ’

Burriss survives close call

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants already have watched right-hander Joe Martinez get skulled by a line drive. They didn’t need to see another teammate endure a frightening injury from a batted ball.

And they didn’t, fortunately enough. But it almost happened in Friday night’s second inning. Emmanuel Burriss, minding his own business in the on-deck area, was hit in the back of his neck below his right ear by a ball when Tim Lincecum fouled off a pitch.

Burriss was in obvious pain, but recovered quickly enough to bat (and strike out) immediately after Lincecum was retired.

“I got lucky as hell,” Burriss said. “That ball was coming right at my face. If I wasn’t paying attention or [if I were] looking at something else, that ball would have hit me square in the nose.”

That could have had extremely serious consequences. On August 31, 2007, St. Louis’ Juan Encarnacion was struck in the face by a foul ball hit by teammate Aaron Miles while in the on-deck circle. The resulting eye injuries ended Encarnacion’s career.

According to a sourced Wikipedia entry, Cardinals team physician Dr. George Paletta called it the worst injury he’d ever seen to the face on a baseball player. As the entry related, “Paletta said the eye socket was essentially crushed on impact, comparing the injured area to the disintegration of an egg shell or ice cream cone, and that the optic nerve had sustained severe trauma.”

Yes, Burriss was indeed lucky.

– Chris Haft

Mr. Renteria, meet Mr. Burriss

SAN DIEGO — Shortstop Edgar Renteria and second baseman Emmanuel Burriss collaborated on a first-inning goof Friday that didn’t generate a run for the Padres but, in a more crucial situation, would be disastrous for the Giants — not to mention embarrassing.

Fortunately for the Giants, the misplay proved to be educational for the pair of middle infielders.

With Chase Headley on first base, Kevin Kouzmanoff on second, two outs and three runs in off Barry Zito, Luis Rodriguez hit a simple grounder to Burriss, who flipped the ball to second base for the inning-ending forceout. Except Renteria, who was playing Rodriguez over in the hole, wasn’t expecting to cover second and dashed madly to get there once he realized what his teammate was doing. Headley slid in safely before Renteria could step on the bag, loading the bases. Pitcher Shawn Hill popped up to end the inning, but Renteria and Burriss needed to talk. After the inning, they did.

“That comes from having only a spring together,” Burriss said. “I think it caught everybody by surprise. But I think you won’t see that again. We got it together. it’s a learning process, especially me being new to second base and being new to him.”

Frandsen optioned to Triple-A; Guzman reassigned

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It’s official. The Giants announced Tuesday morning that infielder Kevin Frandsen has been optioned to Triple-A Fresno, meaning that Emmanuel Burriss will be San Francisco’s Opening Day second baseman.

The Giants also reassigned infielder-outfielder Jesus Guzman to Minor League camp. Guzman, who hit a robust .412 but couldn’t find a position, likely will try find one at Triple-A. He said he had not been told what spot he will play.

Though the Giants didn’t announce it, it’s believed that right-handers Justin Miller and Brandon Medders were reassigned to Minor League camp. Miller confirmed the move.

– Chris Haft 

Frandsen’s departure looks ominous

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Tuesday morning, before many of the Giants had even arrived for the team’s pregame workout, infielder Kevin Frandsen met with manager Bruce Bochy, then changed back into his street clothes and left the training complex. A transaction has not yet been announced, but it seems fairly obvious that Frandsen won’t be on the Giants’ Opening Day roster and that Emmanuel Burriss will be San Francisco’s starting second baseman.

– Chris Haft

Omar speaks on Burriss, Frandsen; Cain just wants to pitch

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Omar Vizquel, the still-popular former Giant, didn’t endorse either Emmanuel Burriss or Kevin Frandsen in the showdown for San Francisco’s second base job. But when Omar talks, he’s worth listening to, regardless of the subject. He paid sincere compliments to each player before Monday’s Rangers-Giants exhibition.

“Burriss showed a lot of improvement last year,” said Vizquel, who occasionally teamed up the middle with Burriss when the latter played second base. “I think everybody’s surprised at how well he did, coming from Single-A ball and taking the challenge to play short and second and do everything the right way. Obviously he’s young and has to learn all the habits and everything that happens in the major leagues.

“And Frandsen, a couple years ago, I thought he was the player everybody was looking to be the regular second baseman for awhile and then he got hurt. And when you get hurt you have to [take] a long time again to get used to everything. I don’t know how he’s doing this year, but he’s got the tools to be a Major League everyday player someday.”

***

It’s fair to suppose that Matt Cain, whose determination is beyond question, is dead set on not enduring another season like the previous two, when he posted respectable ERAs yet finished with dreadful records (7-16, 3.65 in 2007, 8-14, 3.76 in 2008) due to poor run support.

But Cain reminded reporters that the wins and losses assigned to a starting pitcher often depend on factors he can’t influence. So he’ll once again focus on lasting as long as he can in each game — a mindset that has enabled him to average 202 2/3 innings in his three full big league seasons.

“I try to keep that same goal, and I feel like that goal will pay off,” said Cain, whose solid effort against Texas (seven innings, four hits, one walk, eight strikeouts) was marred by two home runs.

Cain said that he employs different mental devices to push himself.

“You almost make it a little competition (with) yourself, staying in as long as possible, or you try to outdo the other pitcher — ‘Oh, he’s going back out there? Then I’m going back out there.’ You drive yourself in different little ways as well as trying to win.”

Both Cain and Tim Lincecum have been reluctant to throw their sliders, but since each has only one exhibition start left, the time to refine that pitch is at hand, if not overdue. Cain admitted this: “It’s kind of hit-and-miss right now. That’s kind of a big pitch. I need to be more consistent with it.” He concluded that his slider might react better out of the dry Arizona air, a common complaint from pitchers regarding their offspeed deliveries.

***

Jesus Guzman homered with two outs in the ninth and the Giants trailing, 5-4, to force extra innings. He’s now hitting .412 with five homers, a team-high (along with Juan Uribe) 15 RBIs, a .922 slugging percentage and a .444 on-base percentage.

But we’ve said it before and we’ll say it again: Because of his lack of polish at any position, he won’t make the Opening Day roster. Expect him to receive plenty of defensive tutelage at Triple-A, though.

– Chris Haft

Decision near at second base? Just part of the intrigue

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It was tempting to derive significance from Emmanuel Burriss’ second consecutive start at second base on Sunday. Previously, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had alternated Burriss and Kevin Frandsen day by day, virtually without fail.

But Bochy declined to say that this meant Burriss, who’s hitting .362, had won the second base tug-of-war with Frandsen, who’s batting .286.

Asked if anything should be read into Burriss’ back-to-back starts, Bochy replied, “Right now, no. I knew with (Pablo) Sandoval down (with a mild left ankle injury) that I was going to split the game at third. Instead of moving Franny from second to third, I was going to give him the back half of the game there.” Frandsen replaced Rich Aurilia, who started his second game of the spring at third base, in the fifth inning.

Still, the Giants’ apparent interest in seeing what Frandsen can do at other positions creates the appearance that Burriss will secure the second base job. If it’s any comfort to Frandsen’s faithful legion of fans, he’d still have a good chance to make the Opening Day roster as a reserve.

The returns of Keiichi Yabu and Ramon Ortiz from Minor League camp constituted another intriguing development. Installing a long reliever in the bullpen would make it easier for the Giants to open the season with an 11-man pitching staff (and keep an additional deserving position player on the roster, such as Frandsen, Andres Torres or Eugenio Velez). The Giants have experimented with their existing bullpen candidates by using them in multiple-inning stints. But Yabu, who often pitched in long relief last year for the Giants, and Ortiz, a former starter, could be better-suited for the role than anyone remaining in big league camp.

Bochy didn’t hide the Giants’ intentions while indicating that either Yabu, who yielded the game’s only run on Richie Weeks’ fifth-inning homer, or Ortiz could return.

“We’re staying open-minded here,” Bochy said. “… It (recalling players during Spring Training who have been sent to the Minors) is not unusual at all. We tell these guys that when you go down there, you’re not out of the picture. If we have the opportunity, we’ll bring you back. They’ve been doing what they need to be doing, and that’s throw the ball well down there.”

This final item isn’t controversial, Earth-shaking or intriguing at all. Just worth mentioning. Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa turned in probably the club’s finest defensive play of the spring when he hurled himself to his right, snared Mike Lamb’s grounder and righted himself in time to flip the ball to Yabu covering first for the out.

Ishikawa looked like the reincarnation of J.T. Snow.

“That’s a highlight play right there,” Bochy said.

Ishikawa, a genuinely modest individual, couldn’t hide his delight.

“Those are the kind that you dream about, feeling like you get full extension and completing the play,” he said. “Offensively, I might not always be there, but (I’ll be) giving my all on defense as well.”

At various times this spring, Ishikawa has benefited from the tutelage of Snow and Will Clark, who made first base the glamorous position that it was when Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey roamed the bag (and the batter’s box) for the Giants. 

“You’ve got two of the better first basemen who ever played,” Ishikawa said, referring to Clark and Snow. “What better first baseman’s dream is that? Two Gold Glove-winning first basemen working with you — it doesn’t get better than that.”

– Chris Haft

 

An ode to Dave Roberts

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Dave Roberts’ value cannot be measured by statistics.

Roberts is that rarest of ballplayers: Somebody who’s good for the team even when he’s not playing. Unfortunately for the Giants, that was all too often over the last couple of years, partly explaining why they released Roberts on Thursday.

Sentiment is a luxury the Giants can’t afford. Eugenio Velez is proving capable of handling the backup outfielder’s role Roberts would have occupied. Velez also switch hits, plays second base and is faster than Roberts. As Giants general manager Brian Sabean said, “I told him [Roberts] we’re on a path to get younger and healthier. Right now that’s not on his resume.”

Still, as Roberts prepares to clean out his Scottsdale Stadium locker — his gear remained in it after he departed Thursday; he had mentioned dropping by one more time to bid goodbye to players he had missed — it’s only right to salute a truly fine individual.

Aaron Boone, another player I’ve known whose character eclipses his statistics, said upon being traded from the Reds to the Yankees that in the end, the relationships a ballplayer forges within the game are the richest assets he derives from it. Certainly a guy can feel fulfilled by making a lot of money or winning a World Series ring. But baseball, which throws disparate men together for 200 or more days a year, forces you to bond. Pity those who are incapable of forming or unwilling to relish those bonds. The best things in life, after all, are free.

Roberts knows this. So he savored the people who surrounded him. He offered a hello and a big smile to anybody who crossed his path, whether it was a clubhouse attendant, a reporter or a teammate.

On the Giants, he was closest to fellow veterans Randy Winn and Rich Aurilia. They were dubbed the “Rat Pack,” owing to the Frank Sinatra-Dean Martin-Sammy Davis Jr. triumvirate of the 1960s (no, we’re not forgetting Joey Bishop or Peter Lawford, but let’s face it, the others were the Big Three). But Roberts didn’t confine himself to any clique. When Emmanuel Burriss, Rajai Davis or Velez showed their inexperience on the field, Roberts counseled them afterward, doling out fatherly advice on how to avoid repeating such transgressions. When Matt Cain had endured one luckless defeat too many, Roberts was there to remind him that there was nothing wrong with him and assure him that he’ll ultimately be rewarded. This might sound like self-evident stuff, but it’s easy to lose perspective under the pressure big leaguers face. Roberts was always willing to offer that perspective in a patient, understanding, caring package.

During Barry Bonds’ final ascent to the home run record in 2007, Roberts tirelessly answered reporters’ incessant questions about the slugger. Roberts didn’t do this to win points with the media or seem better than the other players. He did this because he knew the media’s demands wouldn’t subside, and by answering a question here or a question there he could spare teammates some of the hassle. In short, he took one (in this case, hundreds) for the team.

I’ve been blessed to cover baseball for most of my career since 1991, and when I grope through my memory for other players who possessed the same intangible worth that Roberts brought the Giants, I find few parallels.

There was Casey Candaele, who everybody thought was too small, too slow and just not physically gifted enough to play Major League baseball. His mere presence (never mind his outrageous sense of humor) inspired teammates to give their best.

There was Pete Harnisch, who pitched only every five days but provided influence constantly. Like Candaele, Harnisch had a stiletto-sharp wit that he could use to motivate, ridicule, or lead his teammates. I also remember how he literally gave up a start toward the end of the 2000 season with Cincinnati so Ron Villone could get a shot at his 10th win. Not only did Villone reach double figures, he also struck out 16 in a 150-pitch complete game that remains one of the most stunning efforts I’ve seen.

Roberts has been the same way, always there for others. It’s no surprise that he was a championship-winning quarterback in high school — playing the most important position in the ultimate team sport. He’s no longer a Giant, and he might have trouble finding a Major League job. But any team that picks him up ought to hold onto him. He’s a winner in a profound sense of the word.

– Chris Haft  

Now we know it’s baseball season: Mays is here

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants were graced Monday by the arrival of Willie Howard Mays, who needs no introduction.

Mays appeared in camp to begin his annual visit. As is often the case, he avoided giving formal interviews, though he reversed roles by eagerly quizzing reporters about Giants players.

Mays, who continues to revel in the company of ballplayers, welcomed shortstop Edgar Renteria to the Giants and chatted animatedly with left fielder Fred Lewis and infielder Emmanuel Burriss.

– Chris Haft

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 103 other followers