Results tagged ‘ Eugenio Velez ’

Bochy ‘fesses up on Penny hijinks; Velez glows

PHILADELPHIA — Now the story can be told. When Bruce Bochy managed the Padres and Brad Penny pitched against them as a visitor with Florida and the Dodgers, the velocity readings at the ballpark were about 5 mph slower than they should have been.

That’s because Bochy, knowing that Penny habitually checked the speed of his deliveries after every pitch, tried to mess with the right-hander’s head by ordering the velocity gurus to slow down his readings by 5 mph.

Penny casually mentioned this after throwing his eight shutout innings Wednesday night, and Bochy confessed to this crime Thursday.

Trouble was, Penny’s speed-run readings were still impressive. “I’d see ’94,’ ” Bochy said. When he reminded the crew to subtract 5 mph from the speed readings, the reply came, “We are.”

*****

Despite the Giants’ 2-1 loss Thursday, Eugenio Velez couldn’t resist a smile when he was asked to discuss his home run off his Dominican countryman, Pedro Martinez.

“Man, that’s my favorite pitcher,” Velez said. “I feel so excited because that’s the best pitcher I’ve faced.”

Velez jumped on the game’s first pitch, a fastball. He explained that this was the wisest approach to take against Martinez.

“With a pitcher like him, you have to be aggressive, always,” Velez said. “You’re going to see only one pitch [to hit], and then he’s going to make his pitch.”

*****

Bengie Molina, who returned to the starting lineup Thursday after an eight-game absence due to a tight right quadriceps, met with Bochy after Wednesday night’s game. Shockingly, they didn’t invite reporters to join them. But Bochy revealed that the talk was constructive and mostly involved Molina’s physical state. The chat apparently wasn’t dominated by Molina’s concerns about management’s plans for him in light of Buster Posey’s promotion, as was reported.

“We talked about [Molina’s] start today and we’ll give him more time [off] if he wants,” Bochy said. “He wants to do all he can to help contribute to the cause here.”

*****

Asked what he thought the ideal scenario for Posey’s Major League debut would be, Bochy said, “I think it would be a start, to help him in his preparation.” That’s not likely, though, as long as Molina stays healthy and the Giants remain in contention.

– Chris Haft 

Giants might bid adieu to Aurilia

SAN FRANCISCO — Nothing’s official, so this could be pure speculation. But a huge hint was dropped Monday night that when right fielder Nate Schierholtz is activated Tuesday, releasing veteran infielder Rich Aurilia will be the corresponding roster move.

If so, it’ll be an untimely development for an individual who has conducted himself with class through 12 Major League seasons. The thinking here is that the Giants could have used Aurilia’s bat off the bench down the stretch — if he’s indeed gone.

A Giants official said that no move had yet been made. But shortly after reporters were admitted into the Giants’ clubhouse following their 4-2 loss to the Dodgers, Aurilia and bench coach Ron Wotus were seen exchanging a hug. They wouldn’t have been doing that sort of thing if Wotus planned on hitting Aurilia grounders during batting practice on Tuesday.

Aurilia remained mostly mum — and cordial. “I’ve got nothing to say, guys,” he said. “Good night. I’ll see you tomorrow.”

*****

Some bright spots for the Giants:

– Bengie Molina homered for the third time in four games.

– Randy Winn, who entered the game in a 6-for-42 (.143) skid, went 2-for-4.

– Eugenio Velez extended his hitting streak to 16 games. He’s batting .420 (29-for-69) in that span.

– The bullpen was outstanding. Justin Miller worked two scoreless innings, Sergio Romo continued his dominance of the Dodgers (they’re 1-for-32 in seven games off him) and Merkin Valdez coolly stranded a runner on third base.

But …

– The Giants have lost back-to-back home games since the Angels swept them in mid-June.

– Chris Haft

Looking past Reds to Dodgers? Naaah

SAN FRANCISCO — Bruce Bochy seemed horrified at the mere thought that any of the Giants might — m-i-g-h-t — be looking past this weekend’s series against the Cincinnati Reds to the three-game set against the National League West rival Los Angeles Dodgers beginning Monday.

“We’re playing the Reds right now,” Bochy said before Friday night’s 10-5 loss to Cincinnati. “That’s our focus. That’s how it has to be.”

Fresh off the disabled list and a Minor League injury rehabilitation assignment, infielder Rich Aurilia said that he’d be more than happy to help Bochy point the less-experienced Giants in the proper direction, if necessary.

“Hopefully we can instill that in some of the younger guys. Just worry about winning tonight and not about what happens Monday,” Aurilia said.

Still … as a public service, here are the pitching matchups for the Dodgers series:

Monday: Hiroki Kuroda (4-5, 4.44 ERA) vs. Jonathan Sanchez (5-9, 4.49);

Tuesday: Randy Wolf (5-6, 3.55) vs. Joe Martinez (2-0, 5.87);

Wednesday: Chad Billingsley (11-6, 3.73) vs. Tim Lincecum (12-3, 2.20)

Los Angeles right-hander Jason Schmidt was in line to face his ex-teammates, but he returned to the disabled list with a shoulder injury.

*****

Get this: Buster Posey hit his third home run for Triple-A Fresno on Friday night. As a shrewd witness in Fresno observed, the pitcher who yielded Posey’s homer, Clay Hensley, happened to allow Barry Bonds’ 755th career homer in August 2007. Hensley was then pitching for the San Diego Padres.

*****

Shortstop Edgar Renteria probably would have preferred a more pleasant 34th birthday. His double error in the fifth inning handed Cincinnati an unearned run. With two outs, Renteria fumbled Willy Taveras’ grounder, then threw wildly past first base. That allowed Taveras to reach second base and score on Alex Gonzalez’s subsequent single.

Nevertheless, I will leave AT&T Park tonight with a higher opinion of Renteria than I had when I arrived here. A Reds coach who I deeply admire told me before the game that Renteria’s positive influence, particularly on younger Latin American players, has been obvious. This echoes what a Giants coach recently told me. I suppose I feel somewhat ashamed that people had to point this out to me; this is something I should be able to observe myself. But Renteria is extremely soft-spoken and goes about his business in an unassuming manner, never calling attention to himself. I’m sure Renteria’s intangibles are an asset. I’m also sure he prefers to operate below the radar, so to speak.

*****

Also:

– The Reds have won six consecutive games against the Giants.

– Eugenio Velez extended his hitting streak to 13 games. He’s batting .429 (24-for-56) in this span.

– Pablo Sandoval recorded his fourth multiple-hit game in a row, hiking his batting average to .336.

– The last time San Francisco committed five errors in a game — June 25, 2005 at Oakland in a 6-3 loss — the club took that hangover into its next performance, a 16-0 loss to the A’s which had to have been one of the Giants’ worst defeats since moving to San Francisco in 1958. I’ll go out on a limb and suggest that the current Giants won’t follow up Friday’s dud with another one.

– Chris Haft

On improvements in Velez, Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — Anybody watching Eugenio Velez play would agree that he doesn’t look like the same guy who has been erratic, at best, in his previous Giants stints.

He’s waiting for a good pitch to hit, instead of swinging anxiously. He looks sure-handed defensively and is no longer an error waiting to happen, though he made a mistake Saturday night by not rushing from the outfield grass to charge Ryan Howard’s roller.

Manager Bruce Bochy has noticed a difference in Velez, who’s hitting .444 (12-for-27) since his recall from Triple-A Fresno.

“I think more than anything, he’s comfortable, and he’s got that sense of belonging that you need when you’re up here,” Bochy said. “It probably helped him to go down to [Triple-A] Fresno and get consistent playing time. He’s got loads of talent and we know it. He looks very relaxed and he’s laying off pitches that he swung at before.”

*****

This Phillies-Giants series was a potential Division Series preview, but you’ll never get the Giants to discuss that sort of thing. They’re still striving to reach the postseason, obviously enough, so they won’t jump to conclusions.

Having established control in the National League East, the Phillies feel less restrained when it comes to addressing the subject of the postseason. Left-hander Cole Hamels, who yielded  all of San Francisco’s runs in five-plus innings Sunday as the Giants won, 7-3, was at ease with looking toward October.

And he thinks the Giants have a good chance to be part of it.

“They definitely have the type of team that will go to the postseason, just for the fact that they have really strong pitchers,” Hamels said. “It will be interesting. … Definitely fun to watch what goes on.”

Hamels pondered the several long drives that the Phillies hit during the series and said, “If we play at our field, I think it will be different. I think if you saw where we hit balls, those are definitely out of our ballpark. The score could definitely be a little different.

“But then again, you know what? They can hit balls just as well as we can.”

– Chris Haft

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

 

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

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