Results tagged ‘ Jeremy Affeldt ’

Affeldt looks smooth in tuneup outing

Wednesday, May 1

TEMPE, Ariz. — Jeremy Affeldt threw approximately 25 pitches Wednesday morning during what appeared to be a pleasantly uneventful appearance in an extended Spring Training game.

This was expected to be Affeldt’s final step in his recovery from a strained right oblique. Assuming he continues to feel comfortable after this outing — the next day is always a critical period — the left-hander likely will be activated from the disabled list before Friday’s series opener against the Los Angeles Dodgers at AT&T Park.

Assistant athletic trainer Anthony Reyes and strength and conditioning coach Carl Kochan were present to supervise Affeldt. Neither general manager Brian Sabean nor any of his top assistants appeared to be on hand, perhaps reflecting the organization’s confidence in Affeldt’s health.

Facing a squad of Los Angeles Angels farmhands, Affeldt faced seven batters and allowed two singles, neither of which was particularly hard-hit. He coaxed four ground-ball outs and recorded one strikeout.

An amusing moment occurred when Affeldt threw a curveball to the second man he faced. The batter leaned away from the pitch to avoid being hit, but the umpire called it a strike. Staring at the umpire, the hitter exclaimed “Wow” — perhaps in disdain over the ump’s call, or possibly in amazement over the movement of Affeldt’s curve.

Afterward, Affeldt met with Reyes and Kochan for an extended conversation. The topic appeared to be Affeldt’s pitching motion and how it affected his afflicted side, judging from his pantomiming of his delivery.

Chris Haft

Affeldt jams left thumb in dugout mishap

Thursday, Oct. 11
CINCINNATI — The thumb on Jeremy Affeldt’s throwing hand, his left, became a mild concern for the Giants late in Thursday’s 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Game 5 of the NL Division Series.

Affeldt fell in the dugout as he tried to avoid being hit by a foul ball in the top of the eighth inning and jammed his thumb. Otherwise, manager Bruce Bochy said that Affeldt, who pitched a scoreless seventh inning, might have begun the eighth inning, which would have eased the transition to Sergio Romo for the ninth inning.

“I don’t think it’s a big deal,” Affeldt said of his injury. “We did X-rays. It seems to be clear. It’s just a little tight and a little stiff.”

*****

Sergio Romo often has modestly said that he can’t replace Brian Wilson as the Giants’ closer. Probably not, but even Wilson himself approved of Romo’s efforts, including his most recent outing Thursday.

Romo yielded a run but secured the final four outs, including a 12-pitch showdown with Reds slugger Jay Bruce that ended with a harmless fly to left field.

“To keep his composure shows a lot about his character,” Wilson said.

Wilson, who’s recovering from Tommy John elbow surgery and missed virtually the entire season, has been around in recent weeks to offer support and counsel to teammates such as Romo. Wilson has warned Romo, who struggled in the 2010 postseason, that the air becomes tougher to breathe in October.

“I keep telling him, it’s a different beast in the playoffs,” said Wilson, who recorded six saves and didn’t allow an earned run in 10 postseason appearances in 2010. “It doesn’t matter what you do in the regular season.”

*****

A few good lines:

Affeldt, on his seventh-inning confrontation against Cincinnati’s Ryan Ludwick which ended in a comebacker, thus stranding two runners: “That was probably one of the most honorable battles I’ve had all year with a guy.”

Center fielder Angel Pagan, relating how he felt as he watched Romo square off against Bruce: “I had my money on my guy.”

Cincinnati’s Ryan Ludwick on his team’s aborted comeback: “We rallied, you know? I think the main thing is we said we needed to answer, and we did. We answered with a couple of runs, but, shoot, it’s tough to beat Matt Cain four times in one year.”

Cincinnati’s Joey Votto on the same subject, including Buster Posey’s heroics: “I don’t really like saying that there are moments in games where you shift momentum, but when Buster hit that grand slam –- six runs is so difficult to come back from. That we almost came back was pretty impressive. But Buster totally broke our back with that swing.”

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

Veterans play key role for Giants against Phils

Monday, April 26

SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants defeated the Phormidable Phillies on Monday night because their veterans contributed handsomely.

I could have written that the veterans “stepped up,” but I was taught long ago to avoid cliches. Either way, you know what I mean.

Mark DeRosa’s two-run single in the first inning started everything. Aubrey Huff added a key RBI single in the sixth inning.

Guillermo Mota recorded his ninth consecutive scoreless outing, but it was by far the most important one of the bunch. Jeremy Affeldt, having regained his curveball, used it to strike out Ben Francisco in the seventh inning and escape a bases-loaded jam.

Virtually everybody who played contributed in some way for the Giants. But against opponents such as the Phillies, proven champions who are capable of overcoming any deficit, a team needs its most reliable performers to provide stability and the winning edge. It needs its veterans. The Giants provided a reminder of that in the opener of a series which should be a compelling one.

– Chris Haft

RF up for grabs; long look for Posey; new pact for Cain?

Friday, March 26
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Don’t assume that Nate Schierholtz will be the Giants’ Opening Day right fielder.

Schierholtz was virtually handed the right-field job before Spring Training began, but his pedestrian offense and John Bowker’s torrid hitting prompted the Giants’ braintrust to rethink matters.

Schierholtz is a superior defender who has proven capable of handling AT&T Park’s tricky acreage in right field. But he’s batting .234 with a .280 on-base percentage and 12 strikeouts in 47 at-bats this spring. By contrast, Bowker began Friday tied for the Major League lead with 18 RBIs — due largely to his seven-RBI outburst Wednesday against Kansas City — and is hitting .298 with a .596 slugging percentage and a team-high four home runs.

Bowker also has been strikeout-prone, with 11 in 57 at-bats.

Giants general manager Brian Sabean confirmed that Schierholtz had slipped from his all-but-certain starting perch.

“He’s struggled to the point where you have to pay due respect to the other guys who are going well, including Bowker,” Sabean said Friday.

The Giants’ other reserve outfield candidates are Fred Lewis, who’s batting .222 but has a .528 slugging percentage; Andres Torres, who’s hitting .289 with a .418 on-base percentage and a .578 slugging percentage; and Eugenio Velez, a .298 hitter.<p/>

Referring to the preponderance of qualified outfielders, Sabean said, “Maybe our bigger challenge is how many infielders we keep over outfielders.” He cited left fielder Mark DeRosa, who can play every infield spot, and Velez, who made his first Cactus League appearance at second base Friday and booted a grounder for an error, as “dual-position guys” who can provide flexibility.

*****

Sabean also said that the Giants will keep Buster Posey with them through the conclusion of the exhibition season — though that doesn’t necessarily mean that the organization’s top prospect will make the Opening Day roster.

Reading between the lines of what Sabean said, it seems — <i>seems</i> — that Posey will begin the season with Triple-A Fresno. If that’s the case, Posey probably will join the Giants at the first sign of trouble.

“We’ll keep him to the end,” Sabean said. “I don’t know that the actual decision will need to go to the end. I think, internally, we know what we’re going to do, but obviously we’re going to hold that close to the vest because it’s subject to change and you never know what might happen.”

With the Giants trailing, 3-2, in Friday’s eighth inning against the Los Angeles Angels, Posey hit a windblown ground-rule double that tied the score and lifted his average to .415 with nine RBIs. He has a .442 on-base percentage and a .585 slugging percentage. Manager Bruce Bochy said that there are no plans to try Posey at any position other than catcher and first base.

*****

Friday ended with no official announcement regarding the reported contract extensions for relievers Brian Wilson and Jeremy Affeldt. This prompted speculation that the Giants are engineering an extension for a third player.

A likely suspect is right-hander Matt Cain, whose ridiculously affordable $6.25 club option for 2011 surely will be picked up by the Giants barring a disaster. It would behoove the Giants to reach an agreement with Cain. Otherwise, they’d enter the 2011-12 offseason facing the burden of negotiating with both Cain and Tim Lincecum, whose two-year deal will have expired.

– Chris Haft

Burriss could be back this season

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

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

Thursday leftovers: No ifs, ands or bunts

ATLANTA — A discerning manager does not ask his players to perform tasks they’re incapable of handling. That largely explained why Bruce Bochy didn’t order Fred Lewis to bunt in a pair of situations Thursday when most players might have been asked to sacrifice.

Lewis has one career sacrifice bunt. Bochy figured the Giants were better off letting Lewis swing away.

Bochy had an additional reason to avoid the bunt when Lewis batted in the fifth inning with Barry Zito on second base, Randy Winn on first and nobody out. With Zito as the lead runner, Bochy said, “I didn’t have any speed there.”

Lewis’ next at-bat followed Randy Winn’s leadoff double in the seventh. Lewis flied to center without Winn advancing. That wasn’t the sort of “productive out” the Giants had hoped for. Besides, said Bochy, “I wanted three shots” at driving the run in. As it turned out, Winn was marooned on second base, but the Giants scored four runs in the eighth to settle matters.

*****

Jeremy Affeldt hiked his Major League-leading total of double plays induced to 14 during his scoreless eighth. He’s having one of the best years I’ve seen from a reliever.

“The guy really could have made the All-Star team, when you look at the job he’s done,” Bochy said.

*****

Nate Schierholtz is one tough dude. His left leg looked as if a saber-toothed tiger had tried to have it for lunch.

Schierholtz nearly mangled his leg while leaping at Turner Field’s right-field wall, which has a cyclone fence “padding” in some parts.

“Just wait until you see my leg,” Schierholtz said after the Giants’ 5-1 win as he greeted reporters at his dressing stall.

We could have waited a little longer. The outside of Schierholtz’s leg was scraped almost from top to bottom. Discoloration — budding bruises? — were spread throughout.

*****

Has anybody noticed:

Barry Zito is 3-1 with a 2.42 ERA in four career appearances against Atlanta?

Infielder Matt Downs wears No. 37 — same as late-1980s right-hander Kelly Downs?

– Chris Haft 

Affeldt excels; ‘D’ isn’t that bad; history’s safe

ST. LOUIS — If Jeremy Affeldt seems like he’s one of the best setup relievers you’ve seen, it’s not your imagination.

Affeldt worked a perfect ninth inning Wednesday to extend his scoreless-innings streak to 19. It’s the longest streak by a Giant since Noah Lowry and Jason Schmidt each put up zeroes for 19 consecutive innings in 2005. The last Giants reliever to enjoy a longer streak was Joe Nathan, who went unscored upon for 22 1/3 innings in a row in 2003.

During Affeldt’s 20-game stretch, he has allowed only 10 hits in 60 at-bats (.167). Moreover, none of the 10 baserunners he has inherited in his last 11 appearances have scored. He also leads NL relievers with 10 double plays induced.

*****

Despite their three errors Wednesday, the Giants actually played some decent defense.

Center fielder Aaron Rowand made a breathtaking diving catch of Skip Schumaker’s third-inning line drive. Left fielder Randy Winn duplicated the feat on the luckless Schumaker in the fifth inning.

*****

They say it’s difficult to sweep any opponent. History proves that this is so.

Had the Giants won Wednesday, they would have entered Thursday’s finale with a chance to record their first four-game series sweep in St. Louis since May 6-9, 1912. Nineteen-twelve! That’s when Christy Mathewson and Rube Marquard were the Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain of their day for San Fran — er, New York — and the roster included two star-crossed players: Fred Merkle (who failed to touch first base in a critical 1908 game) and Fred Snodgrass (whose error in the final game of the 1912 World Series helped opposing Boston prevail).

It’s worth remembering that four-game series aren’t played much anymore. Still, 97 years is a heck of a long time.

The Giants’ last four-game sweep of St. Louis anywhere occurred July 24-26, 1987 at Candlestick Park. It helped launch their second-half drive toward the National League West title.

– Chris Haft

No controversy with Affeldt, etc.

SAN DIEGO — When Bruce Bochy removed Jeremy Affeldt after the left-hander fell behind 2-0 on pinch-hitter Edgar Gonzalez in the seventh inning, it was easy to imagine that the manager was impatient with the reliever for falling behind on the count.

That assumption, like many others, was false.

Affeldt had thrown 22 pitches, and probably would have needed a few more to finish the inning. With left-handed batters Andre Ethier, James Loney, Blake DeWitt and Doug Mientkiewicz awaiting the Giants in Los Angeles, Bochy wants Affeldt to be fresh. So he took the unconventional step of removing Affeldt in the middle of a plate appearance.

“I didn’t want to work him,” Bochy said. “We may need him tomorrow.”

***

Tim Lincecum’s next outing will be Saturday against Arizona. I expect him to pitch a strong game. Then again, I expected that here, and look what happened.

Lincecum doubtlessly has encountered mini-slumps like this before, and they didn’t stop him from reaching the Major Leagues. He’s good at analyzing himself, and if he has any questions, he can consult his father, Chris, who knows his pitching mechanics best of all. Lincecum might not finish 18-5 as he did last year, but he’ll remind everybody just how formidable he is sooner than later.

*** 

Ah, the first Giants-Dodgers series of the season. Time to unearth Willie McCovey’s great line about the rivalry: “You can hear the electricity.” The non-stop buzz, whether real or perceived, is intoxicating.

It’ll be intriguing to see how Randy Johnson, Monday’s starter for the Giants, responds to being thrust into baseball’s best rivalry (yes, I said “best.” I’ll explain some other time). As intense as Johnson is, it probably won’t make a difference in his approach. Not like when Juan Marichal or John “The Count” Montefusco would get extra pumped-up to face the Dodgers. The Big Unit gets pumped up to face everybody.

– Chris Haft

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