Results tagged ‘ Jesus Guzman ’

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

Giants announce callups

PHILADELPHIA — Most of the transactions the Giants announced Tuesday were expected, as roster limits expanded to 40 across the Major Leagues.

First baseman-outfielder John Bowker, first baseman Jesus Guzman and right-hander Waldis Joaquin were recalled from Triple-A Fresno. The left-handed-batting Bowker and the right-handed-swinging Guzman will give manager Bruce Bochy more options off the bench, while Joaquin, a hard thrower, will deepen the bullpen.

Infielder Rich Aurilia and outfielder Andres Torres were activated from the 15-day disabled list, providing even more depth.

In a procedural move, infielder Emmanuel Burriss, whose season ended prematurely with a broken foot, was recalled from Fresno and moved to the 60-day disabled list. This cleared a roster spot for right-hander Brad Penny, whose Minor League contract was purchased. Penny will start Wednesday here, filling the No. 5 spot in the pitching rotation.

– Chris Haft

Sanchez, Joaquin in; Sadowski, Guzman out

SAN FRANCISCO — As expected, Freddy Sanchez’s status was officially added to the 25-man roster Saturday, but it’s unknown at this point whether he’ll be in the lineup against the Philadelphia Phillies.

First baseman Jesus Guzman was optioned to Triple-A Fresno to clear roster room for Sanchez.

Another sequence of player moves has been signed, sealed and delivered: Right-hander Ryan Sadowski was optioned to Fresno, while right-hander Waldis Joaquin was recalled from Double-A Connecticut. Joaquin could be here for only a few days — to be precise, until the Giants need a fifth starter, which will be Wednesday at Houston.

Sadowski reported discomfort in his shoulder after his four-inning stint Friday against Philadelphia, but had the malady been serious, he likely would have gone on the 15-day disabled list. After pitching shutout ball over 13 innings in his first two starts, Sadowski allowed 14 earned runs in 15 1/3 innings spanning four outings.

Joaquin opened the Giants’ eyes in Spring Training. He posted a 2.08 ERA and struck out nine in 8 2/3 innings spanning eight appearances. With Connecticut, he was 4-5 with a 2.67 ERA in 36 games, having allowed only 36 hits but walking 28 in 54 innings.

– Chris Haft 

Lincecum to relieve in Seattle? Not a chance

SAN DIEGO — It was worth asking about, though it might have been a silly idea. After all, some of you might have been thinking about the same thing, once it became certain that Tim Lincecum wouldn’t start in Seattle.

Checking into the possibility, however remote, that Lincecum might give Seattle fans what they want and pitch in relief during the Giants’ upcoming Interleague series in his hometown, I talked to the Cy Young Award winner himself and pitching coach Dave Righetti. Conceivably, Lincecum could be used in relief on Saturday, the day he’d normally throw in the bullpen between starts, or perhaps Sunday.

Lincecum said that he had not requested to be used in relief. He indicated that making such demands would be out of character: “That wouldn’t be my way,” he said.

Righetti reacted much more strongly when posed the question. “Heck no,” he said, though he actually said something a little more salty than “heck.”

“No, no definitely not. We wouldn’t do that,” Righetti continued, adding that Jonathan Sanchez would be the only starter the Giants would consider using in that role “because he has [relieving] experience.”

Sorry, Seattle.

*****

So Jesus Guzman grounded into a double play in his first Major League at-bat in Thursday’s seventh inning with runners on the corners and one out. But don’t let the GIDP in the boxscore deceive you.

Guzman made solid contact, but the ball hit the side of the mound, so it caromed more directly to Padres shortstop Chris Burke. Otherwise, Guzman might have had an RBI single.

“I thought he had a good at-bat,” Bochy said, referring to the fact that Guzman hit a couple of stinging fouls off reliever Joe Thatcher before hitting into the double play. “He got a bad break there.”

Then again, the words of Lincecum were applicable in this situation, though he was speaking of his inability to field a third-inning comebacker by Burke, who came around to score.  “Shoulda, coulda, woulda,” Lincecum said.

– Chris H.

One final Zimmerman item; thoughts on Renteria (and Frandsen)

SAN FRANCISCO — Giants third-base coach Tim Flannery delivered the final word on the 30-game hitting streak that ended for Washington’s Ryan Zimmerman on Wednesday. Well, maybe you could choose from more than one word. Such as “classy.” Or “impressive.”

Zimmerman grounded into a force play in the ninth inning to end an 0-for-3 afternoon. Up came the Giants, trailing 6-2. Thursday, Flannery related that he approached Zimmerman, who was playing third base, before the bottom of the ninth and said, “We’re going to score four, tie this thing up and get you a chance to hit again.”

Zimmerman’s response, according to Flannery, was, “At this point, I’d rather take the win.”

Flannery was bowled over by Zimmerman’s selflessness. “Think about that,” he said. “How many guys would do that?”

*****

Should Edgar Renteria’s hamstring injury force him onto the 15-day disabled list, it’s tempting to assume that Kevin Frandsen would be recalled from Triple-A Fresno to fill the roster spot.

However, Juan Uribe is perfectly capable of starting at shortstop short-term. As much as many people want to see Frandsen back in San Francisco, he’d go to waste sitting on the bench behind Uribe and second baseman Emmanuel Burriss.

Unless, of course, the Giants’ braintrust decides that it wants Frandsen, who has played some shortstop at Triple-A, to handle the position instead of Uribe while Renteria mends. Otherwise, the Giants could call up just about anybody.

Many others would like to see first baseman Jesus Guzman get a shot. But he’s another guy who’d go to waste on the bench and should ascend to San Francisco only if he’s going to play more than semi-regularly.

*****

The note about Sergio Romo was filed shortly before he made his injury rehabilitation debut for Class A San Jose at Visalia. He pitched a scoreless inning, walking one and striking out one. Expect Romo back soon.

– 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

Guzman’s first Giants project: First base

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jesus Guzman, who has impressed the Giants this spring with his hitting while dismaying them with his fielding, has played first base for three days in a row in Minor League exhibitions as the organization strives to find a position he can handle adequately.

“He can get nine innings of learning the peripherals of first-base play,” manager Bruce Bochy said Tuesday.

Guzman has virtually no chance of making the Opening Day roster despite hitting .404 this spring. Not only has he looked inadequate defensively at first base and third base and in left field, but he also has played only 15 games above the Double-A level. Polished as Guzman seems at the plate, he must prove himself in all phases of the game.

Other items of note from Tuesday:

– Nate Schierholtz’s third-inning home run in the Giants’ 7-3 victory over the Arizona Diamondbacks gave San Francisco at least one homer in 22 of its 29 Cactus League games. The Giants entered the afternoon with 37 homers, second in the Majors to Kansas City’s 41.

– Matt Cain lasted only five innings but was effective when necessary, stranding five runners in scoring position while yielding two runs and seven hits. “I probably felt more relaxed and comfortable toward the end. Sometimes it works that way,” said Cain, who struck out five during his 90-pitch outing.

– Closer Brian Wilson worked the ninth inning and allowed his first run in 10 spring appearances, though it was unearned. Bochy has been pleased with Wilson’s use of a changeup to complement his fastball and slider. “That can be a big pitch for him if he gets comfortable with it and feels like he can throw it anytime,” Bochy said.

– The Giants have re-signed right-hander Matt Kinney, who will pitch at Triple-A Fresno. Kinney, who pitched for the Giants in 2005, gives them more Minor League depth.

– Chris Haft

Guzman, P.S.

PHOENIX, Ariz. — In Friday’s second inning, Jesus Guzman, playing third base for the Giants, dropped Jermaine Dye’s leadoff smash but recovered the ball quickly, as solid infielders do. Then Guzman overthrew first base, as solid infielders don’t. Thus, two of Chicago’s three runs in the inning were unearned.

True, Guzman saved Thursday’s victory over the White Sox with a diving play to his right. But he’s clearly inconsistent afield.

And his hitting skills would atrophy if the Giants kept him on the Opening Day roster as a reserve. To repeat, he has to play, hit and improve defensively, even if the improvement is only marginal.

– Chris H. 

Guzman must find a position in minors, but which one?

PHOENIX, Ariz. — Though it’s easy and dangerous to be seduced by Spring Training performances, Jesus Guzman appears to be a truly special hitter. Whether the Giants ever manage to capitalize on Guzman’s skills, however, could become an issue.

Guzman’s defensive shortcomings have been well-documented. Simply put, he struggles with the glove, and his footwork isn’t especially precise. In fairness to Guzman, he’s only 24 and has played only 15 games above Double-A. Since he seems to be a decent athlete, spending a season in the high Minors trying to learn and master a position could benefit him.

But, assuming Guzman goes to Triple-A Fresno, which spot should he play? Do the Grizzlies oust Scott McClain from first base or Ryan Rohlinger from third? What if third baseman Conor Gillaspie, a top prospect, lands in Fresno? Second base, where Guzman has said he feels comfortable, might be a possibility. I personally think that the outfield ultimately could be a decent spot for him. Typically, infielders find it easier to adjust to playing outfield than vice-versa.

Here’s something about Guzman that concerns me: Two American League organizations, the Mariners and A’s, gave up on him. If neither system envisioned him as a potential designated hitter, which would enable him to skirt his defensive struggles, that raises some red flags.

Here’s something about Guzman I like: If he reached the Majors with the Giants, he wouldn’t let AT&T Park affect him mentally. He’d learn to use the park’s dimensions to his benefit, spraying line drives everywhere for doubles and triples and pulling home runs to left. In this respect, Guzman could be — dare I say it? — the Giants’ next Jeff Kent.

As I write this, Guzman grounded into a double play with the bases loaded and nobody out in the first inning of Friday’s exhibition against the Chicago White Sox. But that didn’t negate his remarkable output overall (.410, four homers, a team-high 12 RBIs and a .974 slugging percentage entering the game).

Guzman demonstrated his hitting skill in subtle fashion Thursday by “spoiling” a pitch — swinging at a two-strike delivery he knew he couldn’t put in play and fouling it off. Except he didn’t just nick the ball, as even accomplished hitters do. He lined it a couple of hundred feet outside the right-field foul line. The man can flat-out hit. But part of the beauty and challenge of baseball is the prerequisite that each player must possess multiple skills. Guzman doesn’t have to learn to use his glove as well as his bat, but he had better close the gap between the two, or else he’ll never be seen at AT&T Park.

– Chris Haft

Non-roster sleepers awaken Giants; injury updates

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Jesus Guzman and Andres Torres almost surely won’t make the Giants’ Opening Day roster. But they’re starting to show that if the Giants ever need them during the season, they’ll be ready when they show up.

Guzman, 24, is the more well-known of the two, although “well-known” isn’t a term commonly associated with non-roster players. Guzman commanded some attention in the offseason by hitting .349 with 13 homers in 61 games and driving in a Venezuelan Winter League-record 67 runs for Caracas. That earned the third baseman league Most Valuable Player honors. The Giants are his third professional organization.

Torres, 31, is a switch-hitting outfielder who has spent 11 years in professional baseball, including fractions of the 2002-05 seasons with Detroit and Texas. That’s the profile of a baseball journeyman.

Except that neither he nor Guzman have looked like journeymen so far in Cactus League games. Guzman ricocheted an eighth-inning RBI triple off the right-field fence Sunday, and Torres has made two excellent plays in center field in recent days. Torres also scored twice in the Giants’ 5-2 victory Sunday over Milwaukee.

Manager Bruce Bochy was especially impressed with Torres: “Those were impressive jumps he gets to the ball, and he has pop from both sides of the plate. He’s interesting.”

“Interesting” can lead to a mid- or late-season callup under many circumstances.

As for the injuries, outfielder Nate Schierholtz is expected to be sidelined for two to three days with back spasms. Those, said Bochy, could be related to Schierholtz’s tight hamstrings.

Left-hander Noah Lowry didn’t throw over the weekend, as expected, but could resume tossing sometime this week.

Follow

Get every new post delivered to your Inbox.

Join 89 other followers