ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy finally confirmed what’s been suspected for days: Barry Zito is out of the rotation.
For now, at least.
Zito won’t take the ball Sunday against the Tampa Bay Rays at Tropicana Field. He will yield to right-hander Guillermo Mocsoco, whom the Giants acquired last week from the Chicago Cubs’ Triple-A club.
For now, the Giants have a $126 million long man.
“Sometimes it’s just time for a change,” said Bochy, whose club is 0-9 in Zito’s starts away from AT&T Park. “You get in a rut and it’s just kind of been that kind of year for Barry. He pitched so well last year. But we did this in 2011, backed him off, and he pitched well.
“How long this is going to be, I couldn’t tell you.”
The Giants should have Ryan Vogelsong back in the rotation Aug. 9, assuming all goes well in his final rehab start Sunday for Double-A Richmond.
But the club also has discussed using a six-man rotation down the stretch, in order to preserve a staff that might have shown the effects of pitching to the end of October in two of the previous three seasons.
“You give the guys a little break, and it allows you to look at some younger guys,” Bochy said. “So yeah, it’s been discussed.”
But going to a six-man rotation might be interpreted as raising the white flag, which is something management, coaches and players are not willing to do right now. Plus the Giants would have to grow from a 12- to a 13-man pitching staff to accommodate six starters. That means shedding a position player.
Zito is in the final season of his much maligned seven-year, $126 million contract. He has a $7 million buyout on an $18 million option next year, and missing a start practically guarantees he won’t throw enough innings for that option to become guaranteed –- something that was an extreme longshot to happen in any event.
His story arc within these seven years is straight out of Six Flags. Last year, it was the highest of highs: The Giants went 11-0 in his final 11 regular-season starts, then he staved off elimination in Game 5 of the NLCS at St. Louis and beat the Tigers’ Justin Verlander in Game 1 of the World Series.
But this current decision was near automatic. Zito had a 9.97 ERA in his nine starts away from AT&T Park. And the Rays are 23-11 against left-handed starters –- the best wining percentage in baseball.
It didn’t make the conversation any easier for Bochy.
“You never like to tell a guy you’ll make a change,” Bochy said. “He understood. He’s struggled on the road. We’ve made an adjustment with this staff before. He said (Thursday), 'If you need help in the 'pen, I’ll be ready.'”
Zito was not immediately available for comment. When approached at his locker, he said he hadn’t been told anything yet –- despite the fact he was listed as a reliever and Moscoso as a starter on the lineup card, and Moscoso joined Tim Lincecum and Madison Bumgarner in a meeting to go over Rays hitters.