SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — As he met with reporters one afternoon earlier this week, manager Bruce Bochy joked that he wasn’t worried about his rehabbing starters, but rather closer Santiago Casilla, who was feeling so strong that coaches felt he was going too hard in bullpen sessions.
Casilla looked sharp as he started to throw during a live batting practice session Thursday, but his time on the mound was cut short when a Casey McGehee screamer hit Casilla just above his left ankle. He rolled on the ground for about a minute and left the field with a trainer, but the Giants got good news when an X-ray revealed that Casilla has just a shin contusion.
The test result allowed the Giants to keep having fun with Casilla, who was talking smack the second he took the mound and took joy in letting hitters know that he was on top of his game.
“The Baseball Gods got him a little bit,” Bochy said. “He was having fun with the hitters and getting on them because they weren’t hitting him. He’s a very strong Christian. We told him about the Baseball Gods, and I think he gets it now.”
Casilla smiled as he talked about getting hit.
“I was talking too much on the mound,” he said, shaking his head.
All kidding aside, the Giants caught a break when Casilla was able to walk off the field. Bochy has already said Casilla will open the year as his closer, and the 34-year-old is coming off a remarkable year. He had a 1.70 ERA in 54 appearances in 2014 and made sure the Giants didn’t skip a beat when Sergio Romo faltered, saving 19 of 23 chances.
Casilla was fifth among NL relievers with a 0.86 WHIP and held hitters to a .177 average. He didn’t allow a run in nine postseason appearances.
Casilla has come to camp looking like a man eager to build on that success, and teammates and coaches have raved about his energy and stuff over the first week. Bochy expects Casilla to miss just a few days.
“He didn’t want to do the conditioning today and tomorrow,” McGehee joked. “I told him I’d help him out.”
Standing a locker away, catcher Hector Sanchez chugged a Gatorade as he tried to recover from a long morning on the field.
“Bro,” he said to McGehee. “Can you help me out?”