Casilla out with blister issue, but gets vote of confidence


Casilla out with blister issue, but gets vote of confidence

PITTSBURGH -- Right-hander Santiago Casilla will sit behind emergency glass in the Giants bullpen Friday night because of a blister issue on his pitching hand, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.

But the manager gave Casilla a vote of confidence amid his recent struggles, saying hiccups are to be expected from anyone in the closer role, let alone someone who was thrust into the high-profile job.

"It's going to happen, and he's been really solid," said Bochy, a day after Casilla blew a one-run lead in a 6-5 loss at Washington. "Yesterday, we're out of that inning if (shortstop) Brandon Crawford makes that throw."

Bochy pointed out that Casilla only made a mistake to the leadoff batter, who doubled. He got the ground balls to escape. Bochy did acknowledge that Casilla was shaking off catcher Buster Posey quite often during the inning. Perhaps he wanted to go back to his fastball because his slider and spike curve are harder to throw with a blister.

"He's pitchable, but I'm going to back off him for today," Bochy said. "It could be bothering him more than he's letting on."

Thursday's blown save was more troubling because it was Casilla's third blown save in four chances. Over his last six appearances, he has faced 28 batters and 15 have reached base (11 hits, three walks and an error). Casilla also has allowed two home runs and opponents are batting .458 against him over that span.

"He had a pretty good break before (Thursday)," Bochy said. "I think it's more between pitch selection and location."

In other words ... trust Buster.

Casilla had a 1.32 ERA and had closed out 19 of 20 opportunities before his rough, six-outing stretch. So it would be beyond rash to consider any kind of closer change. Bochy made it clear he's not considering one.

As usual, Bochy plans to use matchups if he has a save opportunity in Casilla's absence. Right-hander Sergio Romo pitched 1 13 innings Thursday but threw only 18 pitches, so he should be fully available if needed.

Hunter Pence changing positions to accommodate Andrew McCutchen

Hunter Pence changing positions to accommodate Andrew McCutchen

SAN FRANCISCO -- Andrew McCutchen has spent his entire career as a center fielder. With a new team comes a new position. 

Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed on Tuesday that McCutchen will move to right field for the Giants, with Hunter Pence sliding over from right to left. Bochy said he talked to McCutchen about the plan -- one the Giants had throughout the McCutchen chase -- after Monday's trade. 

"I'm looking forward to right field," McCutchen said. "That's one place people can't pick on me saying that my defensive metrics are so bad. I'm looking forward to playing right. I know there's a lot of room out there to run, so it's definitely going to be almost like playing center."

McCutchen said he's looking forward to picking Pence's brain about patrolling right field at AT&T Park. Bochy has already spoken to Pence and said his longtime right fielder is on board with the plan. 

"He's just so excited about getting Cutch on this club that he's good with anything or whatever is best for this club," Bochy said. "So that's the plan right now."

McCutchen has played 11,621 defensive innings in his career and all but 115 1/3 of them have been in center field. He briefly moved to right field last season but shifted back to center when Starling Marte was suspended for testing positive for a banned substance. McCutchen was a Gold Glove Award winner in 2012 but his defensive metrics tailed off in recent seasons. He was worth negative 28 Defensive Runs Saved in 2016 and was at negative 16 DRS last season. 

McCutchen had wanted to stay in center in Pittsburgh, but said it's a new case with a new team.

"I wasn’t too keen on (moving at first) because I felt that I had more there, that I could do something there (in center)," he said. "I honored (the Pirates) once they wanted me to play a little shallower and that backfired on me. I was basically asking for another shot but I didn’t get that chance or opportunity. But now that I’m going into the Giants organization and this is something they want me to do, I’m all for it.

"San Francisco has a huge field. It’s bigger than PNC Park. They’ve got Triples Alley and it’s called Triples Alley for a reason. For me, it’s another center field. I’m moving over a little and if it’s saving my legs and I can get more stolen bases, I’m all game and I’m all for it.”

Pirates front office raves about McCutchen after trading him to Giants


Pirates front office raves about McCutchen after trading him to Giants

SAN FRANCISCO — There was a sense of celebration within the Giants organization on Monday after the addition of Andrew McCutchen. He is easily their best outfielder, a potential solution atop the order, and a player who is known for being a tremendous presence in the clubhouse. 

If the Giants had any doubts, though, they surely felt better after seeing the quotes that came out of Pittsburgh. In a series of statements, Pirates officials made it clear this was a difficult trade to make, with chairman Bob Nutting calling it “one of the most emotionally agonizing decisions that we have had to make in my tenure.”

Nutting, in a statement, said that McCutchen’s smile and energy were infectious even as a teenager. Later, McCutchen got the Pirates to three straight postseason appearances. 

“He did so while always carrying himself with humility, dignity and grace,” Nutting said. 

Team president Frank Coonelly described the trade as painful. 

“(No) individual was more responsible for the success that we had from 2013 to 2015 than Cutch,” Coonelly said in a statement,” And no player was more disappointed than Andrew that we did not break through and win a World Series Championship for the City of Pittsburgh.”

McCutchen was Pittsburgh’s first-round selection in the 2005 draft and made his debut in 2009. In nine seasons with the Pirates, he was a five-time All-Star and a perennial MVP candidate. He won the award in 2013 and finished in the top five of voting for four consecutive seasons. 

General manager Neal Huntington said the decision to actually part with the franchise player was “incredibly difficult.”

“Watching Andrew patrol center field with grace, fly around the bases, drive the ball all around the ballpark, celebrate with his teammates or interact with his family, friends or fans has created lifelong memories for me and many, many others around the game of baseball,” he said.