SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — As part of a partnership between MLB and HBO, actor Will Ferrell will take the field as the Giants catcher in the fifth inning of Thursday’s game against the Chicago White Sox. Manager Bruce Bochy said he’s not sure who will throw to Ferrell, who is playing nine positions in five Cactus League games, but one pitcher has already volunteered.
“Bum asked me and I said, ‘No, it’s in the fifth,’” Bochy said of Thursday’s starter, Madison Bumgarner. “He looked at me, seriously, and said: ‘What, you don’t think I’ll be out there in the fifth inning?’”
Getting through five innings on March 12 is an unnecessary workload for any pitcher. On Wednesday, the Giants got just two combined innings from their two starters. Tim Hudson threw one inning in his first start back from ankle surgery and Tim Lincecum was limited to one because of a sore neck. Bochy said both pitchers will have enough time to get up to speed before Opening Day. The same goes for Matt Cain, who threw two innings on Monday.
“I still feel that way, with how (Hudson and Cain) threw the first time out,” Bochy said. “We have time to get them stretched out. You think about where Huddy is at this point and we’ll get ready, so we have time (for Lincecum, too).”
While three-fifths of the rotation is trying to stretch out, Bumgarner apparently feels ready to rock. Bochy felt that even if Ferrell had been scheduled to catch a different inning, it still wouldn’t be a good idea to put him behind the plate for a Bumgarner inning.
“You can’t tell Bum to take it easy,” he said. “Bum would give him his best stuff.”
HEALTH UPDATE: Brandon Crawford had no issues while playing shortstop for the first time this spring. Crawford has been slowed by a sore shoulder but he’ll be back out in the field on Friday. Juan Perez returned to the lineup after dealing with some back soreness.
LIGHTER SIDE: So the Ferrell thing will be the talk of Twitter on Thursday (I hear it’s likely he just catches an intentional walk), but this is better: Gio Gonzalez going all Super Troopers during his in-game interview. All it was missing was a snozzberries reference.
PROSPECT WATCH: Who is the fastest player in camp? Matt Duffy had an interesting suggestion, saying it might be Double-A infielder Kelby Tomlinson, one of Duffy’s teammates last summer. Tomlinson stole 49 bases in 61 attempts for Richmond and teammates remembered him getting to about 30 in a row before being caught for the first time.
“And I think I was safe on that one,” Tomlinson said, smiling.
Tomlinson hasn’t shown much power in the minors, but coaches have kept an eye on the 24-year-old this spring because of his reputation on the bases. He has mostly been a shortstop but played a lot of second base last year, posting a .340 on-base percentage.
NOTEWORTHY: Brandon Belt hit a loooooong solo homer in the fourth, his first of the spring. He also drew a walk and singled … Casey McGehee continues to play a solid third base and swing a hot bat; he had two hits, raising his Cactus League average to .467.
Santiago Casilla has had command issues and was hit hard today, giving up two runs in the seventh. Casilla came into camp in great shape but was set back a bit when he took a McGehee liner off the leg during live BP.
“It’s mistakes with the fastball,” Bochy said. “He said right now he’s not sharp with the command of the fastball.”
George Kontos, on the other hand, pitched 1 2/3 scoreless innings out of the bullpen, continuing his push for a spot. He has allowed just one run on a solo homer in 4 2/3 innings. Just a hunch here, but I wouldn’t be surprised if Kontos and Jean Machi make the team. The Giants could put a veteran on the DL to start the season, and they have a few options.
QUOTABLE: “One (stressful) inning down. A sick stomach. This never gets easier!” — Kim Hudson, on Twitter, after her husband’s spring debut.