Results tagged ‘ Ramon Ortiz ’

Stuff that Giants fans need to know

SAN FRANCISCO — Before Friday night’s exhibition against the Oakland A’s, Giants manager Bruce Bochy reiterated that the club’s braintrust is inclined to open the regular season with a 12-man pitching staff rather than an 11-man contingent.

Reasons are varied. Starters might not be prepared to pitch deep into games this early in the season. Rookie right-hander Joe Martinez might be well-suited for long relief duty, but if he is unavailable or not even on the team, the Giants will need multiple one-inning relievers to fill the “long” role.

Bochy acknowledged that the Giants might change their minds on this subject before they announce roster cuts, which could come as early as after Saturday’s game against the A’s in Oakland.

Also subject to change is the two-catcher versus three-catcher issue. The Giants are likely to keep Pablo Sandoval as their lone extra catcher — a considerable risk, given his status as the starting third baseman — and demote Steve Holm to Triple-A Fresno.

At the very least, Bochy gave Holm his due. “Steve Holm has played very well,” Bochy said of the Sacramento native, who entered the game batting .279. If it’s any comfort to Holm and his fans, Bochy indicated that the two-catcher plan might not last much beyond April, when the team has four scheduled off-days.

Quickies: The Giants and A’s mutually agreed to use designated hitters Friday, even though they were playing in a National League park. Bochy said that he didn’t want Randy Johnson, his starting pitcher, bothering with the task of hitting. “With Randy going today, we just want him to concentrate on pitching,” Bochy said.

– Left-hander Jonathan Sanchez, whose left index finger has sufficiently healed from his cooking accident, threw in the bullpen and, in Bochy’s words, is “good to go” and will start Sunday’s exhibition finale against the Dodgers. 

– The Giants will summon six players from Minor League camp to use as substitutes for their final two exhibitions: outfielder Mike McBryde, catcher Eli Whiteside, right-handers Keiichi Yabu and Ramon Ortiz, and infielders Matt Downs and Jake Wald.

– 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

 

Reporting Day leftovers

The world “leftovers” in the headline isn’t meant to be dismissive. After all, leftovers are usually good for a couple of days. So snack on these morsels as you wait for the Giants to officially start Spring Training:

– Manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday that players will engage in conditioning exercises at the end of workouts instead of at the beginning. “One of the primary reasons I changed it was that I want these guys to have their legs fresh as they’re going through fundamentals and the pitchers are throwing on the side,” Bochy said.

– Left fielder Fred Lewis visited Nike headquarters in Beaverton, Ore., in December to approve baseball spikes made specially for him. Lewis underwent surgery last September to have a bunion removed from his right big toe and actually has another bunion on his left foot that hasn’t yet proved bothersome. The shoes, he said, contain a mesh material around the toes to provide flexibility. Lewis expects to be ready to play in the Giants’ Feb. 25 Cactus League opener against Cleveland, although he hasn’t tried moving side to side or cutting sharply on his feet. “I feel like a little kid in a candy store,” Lewis said. “I can’t wait to get out there on the field. I feel like I have something to prove all over again.”

– Bochy named right-handers Kevin Pucetas, Joseph Martinez and Ramon Ortiz and left-hander Pat Misch as candidates to start if Martians abducted a member or two of the existing rotation (my words, not Bochy’s). Pucetas owns a 32-7 Minor League record but hasn’t pitched above Class A; Martinez led the Eastern League with a 2.49 ERA for Double-A Connecticut last year; Ortiz will prepare to pitch long relief as well as start; and Misch started 20 games in 2008 for Triple-A Fresno and the Giants.

– Bochy indicated that left-hander Randy Johnson’s training regimen will be adjusted to accommodate the 45-year-old’s history of back problems. “When you’ve been in the game as long as he has and you’ve had the success that he’s had, he has a routine and we certainly don’t want to change it,” Bochy said. When a reporter mentioned that the Arizona Diamondbacks protected Johnson last spring by prohibiting him from hitting in exhibition games, Bochy said, “We do want him to take a few swings so when he gets in a game he doesn’t hurt himself.” Bochy won’t completely baby Johnson either, judging from his response when another reporter mentioned PFP (pitchers’ fielding practice). “He’ll spend some time there, maybe not as much as a Jesse English,” Bochy said, humorously referring to the rookie right-hander who finished 13-7 last year for Class A San Jose.

– Chris Haft

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