SAN FRANCISCO – Giants manager Bruce Bochy kept the media waiting long after the cooling-off period before he entered the interview room Thursday night, leading to speculation that the club would make a roster move to shore up a shorthanded bullpen.
But it appears the club will try to soldier on with a tired and undermanned relief crew as this series with the Atlanta Braves continues on Friday.
“Right now there are no plans but we’ll talk about it once we’re done here,” Bochy said. “We have guys who can go short tomorrow. “These guys got pushed so we’ll see where we’re at.”
The Giants needed George Kontos and Chad Gaudin to throw two innings apiece after Ryan Vogelsong couldn’t survive the fifth. But Gaudin was magically efficient, throwing 13 of 15 pitches for strikes, and so he might be able to go. Kontos threw 40 pitches but told me he planned to be available as well.
The club already was down a man because Santiago Casilla’s knee pain requires at least two days of rest; Bochy didn’t want to lose Casilla for 15 days to the disabled list, knowing that his knee bounced back after a couple days when it flared up last season.
The Giants could recall Jean Machi from Triple-A Fresno if they were to place Casilla on the DL. The good news: Machi didn’t pitch Thursday. The bad news: The Grizzlies are in Nashville. So if the Giants decided to make a move, they had to decide quickly.
Prior to the game, Bochy said he wouldn’t change the way he manages Ryan Vogelsong. His hook wouldn’t get any quicker just because Vogelsong was 1 for 6 in posting quality starts.
Well, it’s 1 for 7 now. And Bochy absolutely made a decision that reflected on the right-hander’s struggles.
In the fifth inning, with the Giants up 3-2, Jordan Schafer hit a leadoff triple that barely cleared Brandon Belt’s leaping attempt. There were times when Bochy might have considered playing the infield in, hoping to keep the tying run from scoring on a ground ball.
But the club has been so bitten by big innings, including Vogelsong. So shortstop Brandon Crawford was nearer to his customary spot when he fielded Andrelton Simmons’ RBI ground out. (It was hit hard, though, and might have gotten through if Crawford had been playing in.)
It wasn’t exactly an indictment of the way Vogelsong has been pitching. But Bochy is seeing something different from his rotation this season, and he’s altering his game management as a result.
Didn’t get this in the main story on Vogelsong, but here’s Buster Posey’s take:
“The main thing was just some balls in the middle of the plate.”
Posey said Vogelsong was “pretty crisp” and velocity wasn’t the issue. Nor is it his focus or mentality.
“He’s good,” Posey said. “Vogey has been playing this game for a long time. I’m sure he’s been through some patches like this throughout his career. He can draw on and use that past experience.”
I realize that Brian Sabean said that he is not considering anyone other than Brandon Belt as the club’s first baseman, but the club owes it to Brett Pill to promote him the first chance they get.
Pill likely would’ve been on the opening-day roster as a right-handed bench bat if he hadn’t needed knee surgery in the spring. Since returning to Triple-A Fresno, he’s been crushing it night after night.
After a six-RBI game Thursday, he now has 43 RBIs – the most in the minor leagues and the major leagues, too.
When you leave a guy like that at Triple-A for too long, it can send the wrong message to every minor leaguer in your organization.
It isn’t often that we see Giants advance scouts Steve Balboni and Keith Champion at AT&T Park. They’re usually off breaking down the club’s next opponent. But they came back home to roost for good reason this weekend.
They received their World Series rings on Thursday.
Considering the job they did against the Reds, Cardinals and Tigers last October, they’re well deserved.
Give special commendation to former Giants catcher Brian Johnson, too. Nobody saw the Tigers more than he did last year.