Down on the Farm: Parker takes first strides in Triple-A rehab assignment


Down on the Farm: Parker takes first strides in Triple-A rehab assignment

Giants outfielder Jarrett Parker is finally back on the field for the first time in over two months. Parker, who fractured his right clavicle after crashing into the left field wall at AT&T Park on April 16, began his Triple-A rehab assignment with the Sacramento River Cats on Monday. 

Batting third and playing right field, Parker went 0-for-1 while drawing two walks off left-handed pitcher Ryan Carpenter and scored one run in the River Cats’ 4-1 win over the Albuquerque Isotopes Tuesday at Raley Field. 

“I’m completely happy with taking those pitches off a lefty. Just seeing pitches, that’s exactly what I want,” Parker said. 

River Cats manager Dave Brundage sees this opportunity for Parker as simply getting back to the basics. After missing so much time on the field, Parker is essentially going through another round of preseason games.

“He’s going through spring training again here,” Brundage said. “For him to see pitches and show some patience and develop his strike zone again, he just needs to see some pitches. That’s what spring training’s all about.”

In his first two games back with the River Cats, Parker is 1-for-4 with an RBI double he hit to right-center his first game back. He barreled up a ball his first at-bat Tuesday, but it resulted in a two-hop groundout to second base. 

Most importantly, his swing is progressing to where Parker wants it. The timing and strength will come along with more at-bats. 

“It’s getting there,” Parker said on how his swing feels. “It’s a process, it’s gonna take a while. I definitely feel like I’m on track.” 

When the Giants’ season started, Parker was slated as a platoon player in left field. Through his first two games in Sacramento, he has yet to line up in left. Parker roamed in center field his first game back before playing right field on Tuesday night. He says he feels comfortable in all three spots and just wants to be ready for whatever the club needs going forward. 

And in that first game back, Parker was also tested at the wall. He was happy to get that out of the way early and never holds back, but is also playing it smart early on. 

“First day I had a couple of plays at the wall and right now not being 100 percent — diving and what not, I’m just trying to work my way into it and get comfortable out there,” Parker said. 

No matter the early results, the biggest key right now for Parker is playing time back out on the field. Parker played seven innings in both of his first two rehab games before the River Cats’ day off on Wednesday. Brundage believes that day off will certainly help and the plan is to take it day-by-day with Parker as he gets his legs back under him. 

“I don’t think I’m 100 percent, but it’s part of the process and I just gotta keep grinding,” Parker said. 

Parker only hit .143 in nine games for the Giants before going down. Meanwhile in San Francisco, former River Cats outfielder Austin Slater has taken complete advantage of his opportunity in left field. Through 15 games, Slater is batting .340 and knocked his second home run in the bigs Tuesday to help the Giants snap their seven-game skid. 

How Slater performs is out of Parker’s hands. He can only focus on himself and though Brundage has only seen Parker in spring training and the start to this rehab assignment, the River Cats’ manager sees all the skills.

“He’s an exciting player,” Brundage said. “He’s got power, he can run, he can play all three outfield positions. There’s a lot to like about him.”

Stratton stars on the mound

Chris Stratton put together his best performance of the year on the hill in Tuesdays’s win. The 26-year-old right hander went 8+ innings with only one earned run, a solo shot to lead off the ninth, and struck out a season-high nine batters. 

“That’s the best he’s been all year,” catcher Tim Federowicz said, who also had two of the River Cats’ five hits at the plate. “He did a hell of a job tonight.”

Before allowing that home run, Stratton retired 18 straight batters and did not allow a walk all game, pacing the way to the fastest River Cats game of the season at only 2 hours and 13 minutes.

“He had a good feel, he was throwing all four pitches for strikes and then finished batters when he needed to. He did a great job,” Federowicz said.

Stratton improved to 3-4 on the year with a 5.37 ERA over 11 games started. Earlier in the year, Stratton pitched 3.1 innings with the Giants. He went 0-1 with a 13.50 ERA in two appearances out of the bullpen before being sent back down to Sacramento.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.

Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential


Josh Osich goes back to his roots looking to unleash all the potential

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For most pitchers, spring training is a time to experiment and add a pitch or two. Josh Osich is using this month to go the other direction. 

Osich spent the offseason watching film of his 2015 season, when he looked like he might one day be the closer in San Francisco, and decided that he needed to get back to his roots. That means the curveball, which he tried so hard to mix in last year, is now far back in the cupboard. The four-seam and two-seam fastballs are once again the focus, with an emphasis on changing eye levels more than he did a year ago. The changeup and cutter will round out his arsenal for the most part. 

Osich’s raw stuff is still as good as just about any lefty reliever in the league, and he hopes to take advantage of that while putting a rough 2017 season in his rearview mirror. He had a 6.23 ERA last season and 1.73 WHIP.

“It’s just one of those learning years,” Osich said. “I tried to live at the bottom of the zone and I was, but I was actually below the zone. So then I would fall behind and need to throw a strike and that’s when guys would hit me.”

Osich, 29, had a 2.20 ERA and 1.12 WHIP during that 2015 season that he keeps going back to. He walked eight batters in 28 2/3 innings, a far cry from the 27 he walked in 43 1/3 last year. While watching the 2015 version of himself, Osich saw that his hands were higher, and that’s something he’s working to replicate. He’s also trying to slow his pace to the plate. So far, the results are nothing but encouraging. Osich allowed one hit and struck out one in a 2 1/3 inning appearance on Wednesday night. Manager Bruce Bochy let him extend himself to keep the good vibes going. 

In six appearances this spring, Osich has allowed just four hits over seven scoreless innings. He has seven strikeouts and one walk. 

“O, it just seems like he’s got confidence,” Bochy said. “He’s kept it simple, he’s not tinkering with different pitches. He’s throwing more strikes, and more than anything he’s just trying to pound the strike zone now with quality strikes. That’s all he has to do. You look at him and he’s hitting 95 with a couple of good off-speed pitches. That works here.”