SAN FRANCISCO — There was a time, literally like two weeks ago, when it looked like the Giants might be down two starting outfielders. It was a scary time for the Giants, which is why one aspect of Friday night’s exhibition win over the previously unbeatable A’s was so encouraging.
Angel Pagan had two hits, a walk and a run. He generally spent the night looking like the old Angel Pagan. The healthy one.
“He’s really been bouncing around well,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He’s got a hop to his step. He had some good at-bats tonight. Just watching him move around in the outfield, he looks good. It looks like he’s over the back deal.”
This outburst came a night after Pagan hit a long solo homer off Scott Kazmir. He’s rounding into form just in time, and the Giants hope to ride the wave. Pagan, who had two injections in his back last month, is still an immensely impactful player when on the field, and Bochy said he’ll talk to him often in hopes of keeping Pagan from getting too far from 100 percent. The Giants tried to give Pagan extra rest at times last year and it didn’t really work. They don’t have that luxury with Pence sidelined.
“Ideally we’d like to have him out there as much as we can,” Bochy said. “I’ll check with him. We’ll talk, Angel and I, either tomorrow or the next day. I just want to remind him that if he feels something, let me know. But he feels great. He went nine today and felt great. I think he’s good to go, but if he feels anything we have to give him a break.”
— Tim Lincecum will pitch an inning out of the bullpen tomorrow to stay sharp since he’s not starting in this series. Barry Zito is also expected to pitch Saturday, and Bochy spoke to him for a while on Thursday. “It’s good to see Barry,” Bochy said. “He looks great and he’s really excited to be back pitching. He’s got such a passion for the game. I think that was lost with Z a lot — he has other interests, but he loves baseball.”
— The Giants likely will make a Travis Ishikawa announcement on Saturday morning. Given that Ishikawa is rehabbing in Arizona and is being described as “starting to do baseball activities,” it’s very likely that the first baseman/left fielder begins the season on the DL, opening the door for the Giants to keep both Jean Machi and George Kontos.
— Steven Okert got into Thursday night’s game, allowing two of Jake Peavy’s runners to score before fooling Ike Davis to end the frame. Bochy liked what he saw from the young left-hander.
“He’s had a great spring. I really think this kid handled himself well,” Bochy said. “He has good stuff, good velocity … If he keeps doing what he’s doing, he’s going to get a lot of time in the Major Leagues. You get a left-hander with his kind of stuff, it’s nice to have.”
— Jackson Williams gets a weekend in the Bay Area as the third catcher for this series. Williams spent a year away from the Giants, but is thrilled to be back. He’s likely headed to Double-A since Andrew Susac is the everyday catcher at Triple-A and Guillermo Quiroz is the veteran down there. In Richmond, Williams would lead a staff that’s expected to include Kyle Crick and Chris Stratton. With Jeff Arnold still recovering from ACL surgery, those young pitchers could really use a catch-and-throw veteran on their side.
— The Giants got some really good work out of Juan Gutierrez and Hunter Strickland tonight. Keep 15 pitchers, I guess.
— Matt Duffy took fly balls in the outfield today, just in case. If Duffy makes the team and Ishikawa is put on the DL, Brandon Belt would be the fifth outfielder. So Duffy is getting his feet wet. The Giants still have not informed players of final roster moves. That could come tomorrow. Sleep tight, everyone.