CINCINNATI –- There’s plenty of time before the July 31 trade deadline, but the first deal of consequence was made Tuesday – and the annual carousel of conjecture is in full, organ-grinding swing.
Burlingame’s Scott Feldman went from the Cubs to the Orioles in a trade that gives a much-needed change of scenery to Jake Arrieta, Baltimore’s one-time Opening Day starter.
[RELATED: Orioles acquire RHP Feldman from Cubs]
Meanwhile, the latest rumor - that the Giants are interested in Joba Chamberlain - is a bit of hazy dot connecting. The Giants did have special assignment scout Lee Elder, one of GM Brian Sabean’s top evaluators, at the Twins-Yankees game the other day. But he was there to see the Twins, who might make a reliever or three – Glen Perkins and Casey Fien are having the strongest seasons – available for the right price.
For now, the Giants continue to tackle their needs with internal options. And they made one rather obvious decision official Tuesday, with manager Bruce Bochy saying that Chad Gaudin would return to the rotation and make a start when he comes off the disabled list Saturday against the Dodgers at AT&T Park.
Mike Kickham will remain on the roster until then, and possibly beyond, as a reliever. Kickham should be available to toss an inning in relief as soon as Wednesday. The club could have sent him out for another arm, but as Bochy said, “We think he’s our best option right now.”
It sure sounds like Gaudin would’ve returned to the rotation in any event. If Kickham had better results in Monday’s 8-1, rain-shortened loss to the Reds, “it probably would have been discussed a little more.” After the Reds battered Kickham for seven runs in 2 2/3 innings, it became fait accompli.
The Giants will need to clear a roster spot for Gaudin on Saturday. It could be Kickham who gets optioned, but not necessarily. The Giants do like his stuff, and he’s thrown 1-2-3 first innings in all three of his starts.
“Right now, we’ll stay open minded,” Bochy said.
Players do strange things when they’re trying to break an 0-fer streak. The Giants enter Tuesday’s game with three bad ones: Gregor Blanco is 0-for-13, Brandon Crawford is 0-for-15 and Pablo Sandoval is 0-for-18.
Sandoval’s streak has looked worse than the numbers, if such a thing is possible. I asked Bochy if he would’ve sat Sandoval if he had a healthy Joaquin Arias to put at third base.
“Yeah, I would,” said Bochy, indicating he could use Tony Abreu for the same purpose. “He’s not as balanced. He’s expanding too much. You’re fighting it when you get in something like that.”
No question, Sandoval has been the biggest offensive disappointment for the club thus far.
Bochy did meet with the hitters in Colorado in an effort to loosen everyone up and bring some levity to the clubhouse. Let’s just say a hitter or two made changes to their usual pregame wardrobe when they hit in the indoor cage.
As mentioned, hitters will do strange things to escape a slump.
Arias (hamstring) started running curves and remained available to pinch hit off the bench. But that’s it. He hasn’t played the field since he injured himself while scoring a run June 24 – eight days ago - at Dodger Stadium.
Appropriately, Sandoval is sliding in the All-Star voting. The Mets’ David Wright is at 4.4 million and holds a lead of more than 800,000 with three days before online voting closes. Ballpark voting has already ceased.
The Giants aren’t stuffing the box like a year ago. That’s partially because the team had so few home dates in June, and no doubt, partially because of the team’s putrid performance.
Buster Posey (4.67 million) is losing ground at catcher to the Cards’ Yadier Molina (5.09 million). And Marco Scutaro (3.14 million) remains on the periphery at second base, third behind the Reds’ Brandon Phillips (3.41 million) and the Cards’ Matt Carpenter (3.19 million).
It’s expected Posey will make it on the players’ ballot, at least. Hunter Pence has a shot in the outfield. And Bochy could use his executive privilege to add Madison Bumgarner, Sergio Romo, or both if the stars align.
Ryan Vogelsong played catch for a second consecutive day with head athletic trainer Dave Groeschner. All continues to go well.