Giants

Bochy, Giants have their eyes open as Mac Williamson puts the pressure on in Triple-A

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Bochy, Giants have their eyes open as Mac Williamson puts the pressure on in Triple-A

SAN FRANCISCO — A year ago, the Giants told Christian Arroyo to go down to Triple-A and force his way up. Arroyo hit his way into the big league lineup by April 24. 

Could Mac Williamson do the same thing this year?

After a big swing, Williamson was sent back to the River Cats to continue working on swing changes he made in the offseason. The results so far have certainly opened eyes. Williamson is 10 -or-17 through five games with two homers, three doubles and just two strikeouts. 

[JOHNSON: Down on the Farm: Mac Williamson off to scorching start in Sacramento]

“A really good start. He’s doing what we were hoping he would do — go down and make noise and play well and put pressure on us,” manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday morning. “This is a huge year for Mac and where he’s at as far as his career. It’s time for him to dominate that league.”

Williamson, 27, now has 856 at-bats in Triple-A. He would appear to be stuck in limbo, as the Giants prefer center field options — Gregor Blanco and Gorkys Hernandez — on their bench and there are veterans at every starting outfield spot. But this is a bit of a different time for the front office and coaching staff. There is a greater sense of urgency, seen already with moves in the bullpen that will continue as the Giants aim to increase their flexibility. Bochy said he has talked to relievers already about the fact that they might be sent down regardless of their numbers, if they have options and the Giants need a fresh arm. 

All involved with these decisions know that they might not survive another losing season, and the offense has been frustrating to watch through most of nine games. Hunter Pence, in the last year of his contract, has a .435 OPS so far in left field, and while the bench has been part of some comebacks there haven’t been many power flashes. 

“We would find a way to put somebody in our lineup when we think he could help us,” Bochy said. “We could get creative here to mix it up. It’s a small sample, whether it’s here or in Triple-A, so let’s play some baseball and see where we’re at.”

Samardzija, other Giants pitchers need to move on quickly from 15-2 loss

Samardzija, other Giants pitchers need to move on quickly from 15-2 loss

SAN FRANCISCO -- Ten minutes into his start Wednesday, Jeff Samardzija got a mound visit from manager Bruce Bochy and a member of the training staff. 

His fastball was sitting 89-91 at the time, and given that Samardzija is just two starts removed from a DL stint for a strained pectoral, the concern was understandable. 

"He's fine. We just wanted to check on him at that point," Bochy said. "He said he was fine and as you saw his stuff picked up, which you see sometimes from starting pitchers."

Samardzija did get back to the 93-94 range by the third, which is still a couple ticks from normal for him, but at least isn't concerning. He didn't make it to the fourth, though. A Matt Adams homer put the last three of six runs on his line.

"Just one of those days," Samardzija said. "I've been feeling really good. It just took a little longer today (to get loose). There's really no explanation for it sometimes.

"Obviously it's a little bit of a different script for me right now (coming off the injury). We're going to learn from it and keep getting better and get on to the next one." 

A few Giants need to move on quickly after this one. Josh Osich, coming off a sparkling spring, continued to backslide at the worst possible time. The Giants will need to clear a roster spot for Will Smith next week. Osich was charged with four earned runs. Cory Gearrin walked two of three he faced and cashed in two of Osich's runners. He, too, has fallen down the depth chart a bit.

"They're not on track. O really had some good moments today, lots of swings and misses, but also had trouble getting the ball where he wanted at times," Bochy said. "Cory is battling too much right now instead of going out there and attacking the strike zone. This game is all about confidence and if they get shaken a bit they don't throw the ball with as much conviction."

Bruce Bochy explains why he joined Twitter

Bruce Bochy explains why he joined Twitter

SAN FRANCISCO — In the 19 hours since Bruce Bochy first tweeted* he has picked up 15,000 followers. 

“Is that a lot?” he asked Wednesday morning.

It is, but don't expect many tweets from the 63-year-old manager now also known as @BruceBochy1 (@BruceBochy was taken). Bochy does not plan to send out lineups or respond to your complaint about Buster Posey getting a game off the day after a night game. He will not answer you if you scream about Gorkys Hernandez being in center. He does not plan to join the #BeltWars. 

“I’m not going to be on it a lot,” Bochy said. “I’m going to use it with charities and things like that. I don’t plan to use it every day.”

(*It’s here that we should stop and note that Bochy’s first tweet was sent when the Giants were taking batting practice Tuesday and the manager was standing behind the cage watching. But let’s have fun with it.)

Bochy tweeted “great win tonight” after the Giants beat the Nationals on Tuesday and he promoted an event he is doing with our own Amy Gutierrez at the New Balance store after Wednesday’s game. You can expect similar when he does one of the many charity events that he participates in during off days and before occasional home games. 

Bochy smiled Wednesday when told that close friend Tim Flannery gave him two weeks before he deletes his account. 

“If (followers) tweet bad things I’m going to tweet back ‘love harder,’” he said, referencing Flannery’s own charity work. 

--- Mac Williamson was a late scratch from the lineup a day after a brutal collision with the wall alongside the home bullpen. Bochy said Williamson had “general soreness” and he was officially pulled with neck stiffness. The Giants have not had any recent discussions about moving the bullpen mounds, in part because there's no space left at the ballpark. Although Bochy noted that some of his hitters would gladly tell the team to put it in Triples Alley. 

--- Chris Stratton is back home in Mississippi for the birth of his second child. His wife, Martha Kate, has gone into labor. Stratton is expected back in time to start Saturday’s day game, with Johnny Cueto getting the night game against the Dodgers. 

Roberto Gomez was called up to take Stratton’s spot, since Stratton was put on the paternity list. Gomez likely will stay Saturday as the 26th man for the doubleheader.