Results tagged ‘ Joe Martinez ’

Posey stays hot; what will Giants do?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants will face some heavy thinking if Buster Posey sustains his offensive surge.

Posey collected two hits for the second day in a row Saturday in the Giants’ 8-7 split-squad exhibition loss to Oakland. The rookie catcher, renowned as San Francisco’s top position-player prospect, lifted his batting average to .368 and his slugging percentage to .632.

Because Posey has been expected to begin the season with Triple-A Fresno so he could gain experience, manager Bruce Bochy was asked if the 22-year old might be forcing the Giants’ braintrust to reconsider that plan.

“It’s good to see Buster swinging like this,” Bochy said. “It’s really a matter of time. Buster can hit. As we get deeper into spring I can answer those questions a little better. It’s early, but he’s doing what we wanted him to do.”

Bochy plainly stated that he won’t bury Posey on San Francisco’s bench. “We want to continue his development. We don’t want him sitting,” Bochy said. “It’s a matter of if we think he would get enough playing time to warrant being on the club to help us or to continue his progress so we have him ready.”

Bochy added that Posey “possibly” will start a game at first base to help the Giants gauge whether he could play there occasionally. But Bochy also reiterated that he won’t sacrifice Posey’s growth as a catcher to experiment with him at other positions. “I like the way he’s catching. I want to keep him sharp back there,” Bochy said.

*****

In quick succession:

– Tim Lincecum will receive four days’ rest, his full regular-season complement, before making his next start Tuesday against Cleveland. Madison Bumgarner will start Monday night’s split-squad game against Texas while a host of relievers will work the evening’s other split-squad game against San Diego.

– Kevin Pucetas remained in contention for the fifth starter’s spot by throwing three hitless innings in the Giants’ other split-squad contest, an 8-4 victory over Seattle. Pucetas is unscored upon in seven innings spanning three appearances and has allowed three hits. He has walked none and struck out three.

– Right-hander Joe Martinez, the fifth starter candidate who allowed four runs in one inning in his lone spring appearance, believes that the inflammation in his throwing elbow will have subsided enough to allow him to resume throwing in a couple of days.

– This isn’t shocking news, but Bochy made his strongest declaration yet regarding second baseman Freddy Sanchez’s unavailability for the April 5 regular-season opener at Houston. “He’s not going to be ready,” Bochy said of Sanchez, who’s recovering from a left shoulder injury. “He’s come along fine, but there’s not enough time.”

– First baseman Travis Ishikawa (torn ligaments in left foot) might be ready to resume playing in about a week, Bochy said.

– Right-hander Matt Cain admitted that he elevated some breaking pitches while allowing Oakland five runs and eight hits in 2 2/3 innings. However, Cain still hasn’t walked a batter in 8 2/3 innings this spring. “It obviously means you’re around the strike zone,” Cain said, pleased with this development.

– Right-handed reliever Santiago Casilla, stuck in the Dominican Republic with visa problems, finally arrived in camp and struck out the only batter he faced, Ryan Sweeney, to end the fifth inning against Oakland.

– Chris Haft

Sanchez intends to stop thieves

MESA, Ariz. — Jonathan Sanchez distinguished himself last year by pitching a no-hitter and ranking fourth among National League pitchers in strikeouts per nine innings and opponents’ batting average.

But that wasn’t all.

Opponents stole 24 bases while Sanchez was on the mound, the NL’s highest total. Though the responsibility for some those thefts rested with Giants catchers, basestealers undoubtedly capitalized on Sanchez’s leisurely pitching motion.

Toward the end of last season, Sanchez began working more intently with pitching coach Dave Righetti on improving his slide-step to home plate and his pickoff move to first base. Sanchez’s improvement with the latter was evident against the Chicago Cubs in Wednesday’s first inning, when he picked off Ryan Theriot.

“I had too many stolen bases last year,” said Sanchez, who practiced his move in the offseason in front of a mirror.

The successful pickoff contributed to the impression that Sanchez is poised for a breakout season. He blanked Chicago for three innings in the Giants’ 5-1 victory and is unscored upon over five innings in two exhibition appearances.

“My fastball was jumping out of my hand,” said Sanchez, who also expressed satisfaction with his offspeed pitches.

Sanchez, who’s expected to start the Giants’ April 9 home opener against Atlanta, said that he’s not yet ready for the regular season. “But I’m close,” he said. “Almost there.”

*****

The competition for reserve roles on the Opening Day roster is too close to call at this juncture. Most of the contenders are playing well, and the remaining ones have not eliminated themselves.

John Bowker is batting .333 (6-for-18) with a team-high 11 total bases. He also has a .611 slugging percentage and a .429 on-base percentage.

Eugenio Velez and Kevin Frandsen are hitting .385 and .357, respectively.

Fred Lewis is hitting only .214 but has a .571 slugging percentage, thanks to a home run and a triple. Similarly, Andres Torres owns a .250 batting average but a .500 slugging percentage.

*****

Manager Bruce Bochy knows that the Giants’ 7-1 Cactus League record is largely meaningless, though he pointed out that it does carry some significance.

“The one thing it indicates is that the kids are playing well,” he said, referring to San Francisco’s rookie corps. “They’re playing half the game and doing a great job.”

Bochy added that this will end after the weekend. Next week, he said, San Francisco’s regulars will begin playing together more frequently.

*****

Right-hander Joe Martinez is experiencing soreness in his right shoulder and is expected to undergo an MRI to determine the source of his discomfort.

– Chris Haft

Wellemeyer may get No. 5 shot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Todd Wellemeyer might receive a legitimate chance to challenge Madison Bumgarner for the fifth spot in the Giants’ starting rotation, manager Bruce Bochy indicated Wednesday.

When Wellemeyer signed with San Francisco last week, Giants officials said that the right-hander was being regarded more as a long reliever than as a candidate for the rotation. But Bochy said that Wellemeyer’s presence “makes it more competitive” as he, Bumgarner, Joe Martinez and Kevin Pucetas vie for the rotation’s lone opening.

Some observers believe that Bumgarner, the Giants’ top pitching prospect who’s just 20 years old, would benefit from more Minor League seasoning before taking his inevitable place in the club’s starting five.

*****

Aaron Rowand is 10 pounds lighter than he was last spring, and not because Bochy asked him to bat leadoff.

“I don’t know if he had a crystal ball at his house,” Bochy said.

Rowand took it upon himself to lose weight before Bochy called him to discuss life at the top of the order. Rowand said that he weighs 215, compared to around 225 last Spring Training. He finished the season at 205, reflecting the schedule’s physical rigors.

The center fielder said that he slimmed down by improving his diet and adding bicycling to his workout regimen. Rowand estimated that he rode approximately 2,000-2,200 miles, hitting the pedals four times a week at an average of 25 miles per excursion. 

“I’m 32,” Rowand said. “I need to start doing more cardio stuff.”

– Chris Haft

Martinez leaves team to accelerate comeback

SAN FRANCISCO — Accelerating his comeback from his horrific April injury, right-hander Joe Martinez has left the team to report to the Giants’ extended Spring Training camp at their Scottsdale, Ariz., facility.

It’s not known when Martinez will be ready to pitch competitively, though common sense dictates that it could be sooner than later. He has remained in decent physical condition and has been throwing off a mound for the last couple of weeks.

“My release point’s getting more and more consistent. I’m ready to get out there,” Martinez said recently.

Martinez began the season as the Giants’ long reliever, a role he kept for all of three games. Then a Mike Cameron line drive struck Martinez in his forehead as he was attempting to finish a game against Milwaukee, causing a concussion and three hairline fractures in his skull.

For more than one reason, the Giants won’t rush Martinez. They want to make sure that he’s not only physically recovered, but also mentally able to face batted balls again. Being gunshy has ended the careers of several pitchers over the years, though Martinez seems resilient enough to avoid this unfortunate mindset.

Also, the Giants currently have no room for Martinez, at least as of now. Everybody in the bullpen is performing well, and the starters are routinely pitching deep into games, reducing the need for a long reliever. Martinez doubtlessly is bound for an injury rehabilitation assignment in the Minors; he could end up staying there beyond that, depending on the state of the Giants’ pitching at that time.

– Chris Haft

 

Countdown (maybe) to Thursday’s first game

WASHINGTON — Regarding Thursday’s scheduled Giants-Washington Nationals doubleheader, the prevailing sense was that the teams would manage to play one game, thus giving Randy Johnson the opportunity to secure his 300th career victory.

But don’t even think about a second game, the experts believe.

Right now, you can forget about Game 1 starting on time. It’s about 30 minutes before the scheduled 4:35 p.m. first pitch, and it just began raining harder. Meteorologist — er, manager — Bruce Bochy told reporters during his daily pregame briefing that more storms were expected but that enough clear weather to play a game would follow.

Johnson appeared briefly in the Giants clubhouse in the pregame hours when reporters were allowed in. He glanced at a nearby television monitor when ESPN aired a report on the six-game suspension Yankees right-hander A.J. Burnett received. After a short while Johnson strode away, iPod headphones planted firmly in his ears.

One Giant position player I talked to expressed concern about whether Johnson would get his shot at No. 300 tonight. This indicated that while the Giants aren’t obsessing over The Big Unit’s impending milestone, it’s definitely in the backs of their minds.

*****

Some non-Johnson stuff: Right-hander Joe Martinez, he of the healed skull, continued his recovery by throwing in the bullpen before showers began falling. The Giants remain pleased with Martinez’s progress. “There’s nothing wrong with his arm,” Bochy said. “He’s going to be fine.”

– Chris Haft 

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

Joe Martinez, superhuman

SAN FRANCISCO — Dr. Anthony Saglimbeni’s praise of Joe Martinez might have been a little hyperbolic. But it certainly sounded good, and part of it made perfect sense.

During Friday’s news conference to update Martinez’s condition, a reporter asked how the Giants right-hander managed to remain mostly headache-free in the days immediately after Mike Cameron’s line drive struck him in the right side of the forehead.

“Athletes are out there, their adrenaline is going, especially the pitcher trying to get the last out of the game,” began Dr. Saglimbeni, a team internist. “The rest of it, I think, might be a little bit more than human. Joe’s a little bit more than human because I think most of us would have a headache the next day.”

The “little bit more than human” part made Martinez look embarrassed. If his teammates get a hold of this, the teasing won’t stop for a while. Maybe somebody will hang a Superman T-shirt in his locker.

The stuff about adrenaline is easily understandable to anybody who has played competitive sports or found themselves in fight-or-flight mode.

“You know he has a couple of bones that are fractured,” Saglimbeni continued. “They’re not displaced or anything, but that hurts in itself. I think he has a high threshold of pain.”

Let’s hope that threshold is never seriously tested again.

– Chris Haft

Cain’s non-complaint; Martinez out of hospital

LOS ANGELES — Rarely will a pitcher differ with an umpire as calmly as Matt Cain did Wednesday night.

Asked if the 3-2 fastball he threw to Los Angeles’ Russell Martin was a strike — which was the way it looked — Cain said he thought it was. But instead of growling about plate umpire Ed Rapuano, Cain pointed out that Rapuano called balls on pitches in that low area all night. Thus, both Cain and Clayton Kershaw of the Dodgers knew what to expect.

“He stayed consistent with the zone. You can’t fault him,” said Cain, even though Rapuano’s call hurt Cain, who also walked the next batter, James Loney, to force in a run.

***

Right-hander Joe Martinez is out of the hospital, which is good news. But, remember, he’s not expected to resume physical activity for close to another month while those three hairline fractures, courtesy of Mike Cameron’s line drive, heal in his forehead.

A scary, scary moment

SAN FRANCISCO — As of this moment, Joe Martinez’s condition remains unknown. We’re all praying that he’s OK.

Martinez needed one out to end the Giants’ 7-1 victory Thursday over the Milwaukee Brewers when Mike Cameron slammed a line drive back at the right-hander. The ball struck the right side of Martinez’s forehead with such force that the ball caromed all the way back to the Brewers’ dugout on the first-base side.

Martinez remained conscious but wisely sat on the mound, not trying to move and allowing Giants athletic trainers to attend to him. An angry red mark could be seen on Martinez’s forehead. Meanwhile, numerous players began praying — Brian Wilson, leaning against the Giants dugout railing; shortstop Edgar Renteria and all three outfielders, squatting on the outfield grass; Cameron, hunched over at second base and visibly upset. Randy Winn and Fred Lewis came over to console Cameron.

Giants head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner held a bandage to Martinez’s forehead as the pitcher walked off the field under his own power — an encouraging sign.

– Chris Haft  

Patience will be necessary

SAN FRANCISCO — An update: Unfortunately, more showers were expected to hit between 12:30 p.m. and 1 p.m., endangering Tuesday’s 1:25 p.m. scheduled starting time. Giants managing general partner Bill Neukom urged fans to be patient, indicating that the teams will try to wait out the weather for at least another hour or so.

Meanwhile, most hitters didn’t even bother taking batting practice. Why expend energy prematurely or even unnecessarily? One exception was Aaron Rowand, who strode into the clubhouse with a bat in his hand at around 11:30, having apparently spent some time in the batting cage.

Barry Zito played long toss, but this was part of his usual between-starts routine, not just a way to kill time. Pitchers Brian Wilson, Alex Hinshaw, Joe Martinez and Brandon Medders played bridge, and Rich Aurilia sorted out wristbands, batting gloves and other equipment at his dressing stall. Not too many players watched the Royals-White Sox telecast. Fascinating stuff.

– Chris Haft

 

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