SCOTTSDALE — The first official day of spring workouts is always a good time to check on any potential changes. Asked about Santiago Casilla on Thursday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had a quick answer.
“He’s our closer,” Bochy said.
So there’s one job that’s not up for grabs, despite the presence of some big arms in the bullpen. Casilla had a 2.79 ERA last season and saved 38 games in 44 chances. There were blips, but as the season wound down Casilla gave Bochy few reasons to even think of an offseason change. The right-hander allowed just one run over 12 innings in September and October.
Hunter Strickland still looks like the closer of the future here, and he’ll surely see higher-leverage spots this season. Josh Osich also has the stuff to pitch the ninth one day, but for now he’s slotted in as the new Jeremy Affeldt. Asked how life is with Osich in the Affeldt spot, Bochy smiled.
“A lot better,” he joked.
Affeldt may not be the only one missing when Cactus League games start March 2. Sergio Romo didn’t throw off a bullpen mound Thursday, instead playing catch with a trainer. He later had a conversation with head trainer Dave Groeschner, and Bochy admitted that Romo will be held back a bit early in camp.
“He’s healthy,” Bochy added. “There’s nothing wrong.”
Romo has traditionally taken a week or so off in spring training to rest his elbow and the Giants have always managed him a little differently than some of the other relievers. It’s worked, too, as Romo has been a mainstay of the bullpen for years. At least for now, coaches don’t see this turning into any sort of issue beyond the first few weeks of the spring.
STOCK RISING: To Bochy, today was a very good day for Matt Cain. He said he really liked how the longest-tenured Giant was throwing as pitchers got on the mounds for the first time.
“He was throwing free and easy,” Bochy said. “He’s in great shape. It’s evident. He didn’t hesitate in letting the ball go.”
There wasn’t any doubt, but Bochy confirmed that Cain will definitely be one of the five starters when the season starts. Chris Heston will continue to work as a starter down here, but he’s ticketed for sixth starter/long relief duty this season.
STOCK FALLING: The prospect of losing Madison Bumgarner at-bats. Every couple of months some national reporter asks the commish about putting the DH in the National League, but it isn’t happening anytime soon. Just in case, Bumgarner appears to be ready to find a different way to get his bat in the lineup.
SOCIAL MEDIA CORNER: Can I interest you in a slow-motion video of Buster Posey crushing a baseball? Thought so.
FAMILIAR FACE: A very animated Willie Mays was in the clubhouse today, and he looked great. The eyesight is mostly gone so players have to introduce themselves, and Mays cracked up a corner of the room when Brandon Crawford shook his hand. "Oh," he said, looking up. "You got a raise!"
ROSTER MATH: The additions of Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija should stabilize the roster quite a bit, and it's hard to picture the Giants having to go to a four-man bench at any point. With those two and Madison Bumgarner slated to go deep into games, Bochy said he could go with a smaller 'pen. "We're confident in the innings these guys are going to give us," he said.
ICYMI: Here's my feature on Cueto's first day in orange and black, and a quirk that has his infielders talking.
QUOTABLE: After the first shot at Affeldt, Bochy briefly softened his stance. “You can’t help but miss a Jeremy Affeldt,” he said. Affeldt sent Bochy a text yesterday after hearing that Bochy had a scope on his left shoulder.
“He said, ‘you’re trying to get out of throwing BP,’” Bochy said.
The devastating text back from Bochy: “You’re coming here to throw BP — like you did in games for us.”