SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. The Giants reassigned Heath Hembree tominor league camp after Tuesdays game. But expect him to resurface sometime ata major league ballpark near you.
Hembree had a dynamite first big league camp. Theright-hander showed good command with his upper-90s fastball and slider,posting a 1.50 ERA and striking out seven in six innings. He ended hisexperience on a good note, getting three quick fly outs in a scoreless eighthinning Tuesday against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Salt River Fields.
BAGGARLY: Giants spring progress report
Earlier this spring, Hembree told me he hoped to be asconsistent as possible and throw strikes while trying to learn as much as hecould from big leaguers. He obviously didnt have an opportunity to win a jobin the bullpen. Everyone returns from last years top-flight group, with theexception of Ramon Ramirez. But when the Giants need another arm, itll be hardto keep Hembree off the roster if he keeps punching tickets in the minors.
Because hes not on the 40-man roster, Hembree can bebrought back to pitch in more major league exhibitions. So Id imagine we haventseen the last of him in Cactus League action.
Freddy Sanchez will play catch Wednesday and is likely totake infield on Thursday. Its possible he could play second base in a gameFriday, manager Bruce Bochy said.
Thats not an aggressive schedule, obviously, which makes it even harder to envision Sanchez beginning the season on the active roster.
Sergio Romo threw a side session and said his right elbowwas improved. He hopes to throw in a game soon. According to all parties, thiswas a mild issue and Romo, given a little rest, is expected to be OK to startthe season.
Nate Schierholtz said his right forearm stiffened up on hima week ago and he needed to give it a break. Strangely enough, it bothers him more when he swings thanwhen he throws.
The off day (Monday) helped a lot, he said. I feel good,but I need to be healthy to play. If this were the season, itd be a differentstory.
Spring training games are meaningless, so backing off isalmost always the smart thing to do. But when you have a reputation for nagginginjuries as Schierholtz does, its never good to miss time in the eyes ofmanagement.
The emergence of Gregor Blanco continues. He stole two morebases, lifting his major league leading total to nine.
It looks as if Angel Pagan might be starting to feel alittle pressure. He was 0 for 4 and struck out in his first three at-bats,dropping his average to .243. Pagan will enter the season as the startingcenter fielder, and because hes entering his walk year, itll cost him a lotof money if hes not playing every day.
No, Blanco will not take Pagans starting job here inArizona. The Giants just traded two players they liked to get Pagan. But a few weeks into the season, if the pattern holds, itmight be a different story.
For now, Bochy is being patient with Pagan.
Hes still searching a little bit, Bochy said. Thatsfair to say. But thats why were here. I think Angel is going to be fine.
Bochy is likely to have the same thought with Aubrey Huff atfirst base. The big question is what the Giants will do with Brandon Belt, whois having a good camp. Bochy said both of them, and Brett Pill, have done agood job thus far.
Theres no separation to this point, Bochy said.
Barry Zito did not have a good outing Tuesday. In fiveinnings, he allowed seven hits and walked four. That is not good for the olWHIP. But Zito got better as he went, he induced one double-play grounder andhe walked off the mound with the Giants tied 3-3.
Thats the quota the Giants are setting for him this seasonas a back-of-the-rotation starter.
I like what Ive seen from Barry this spring, Bochy said.Hes made some adjustments -- during his start today, actually and he threwthe ball better.
Zito said he is still more comfortable out of the stretch than the windup, but it's getting better.
Arizona outfielder Gerardo Parra hit a home run off Zito,and if rumors are true, he could be on the trading block. I know several Giantsplayers who would be happy to see him leave the NL West.
That guy is a player, one Giant told me.
This was my first time seeing Arizonas Trevor Bauer on themound. I just wish I hadnt gotten stuck in the parking lot snarl so Icouldve watched him warm up, too. He throws from foul pole to foul pole whilegetting loose. It takes a couple of relay throws to return the baseball to him.
Bauer was the third overall pick out of UCLA last June andhe certainly throws hard. He was topping out at 96 mph against the Giants.
Brandon Crawford, a fellow Bruin, managed a single up themiddle against him. Crawford also said he had two hits off Bauer in a UCLAalumni game.
Ambushed him, Crawford said, obviously pleased with himself.
An equipment company set up a sizing display in theclubhouse this morning. There were a dozen helmets in various sizes for theplayers to try on. There was even a size 8, but I dont think anyone touchedit. Probably just there so Bochy doesnt feel so abnormal.
Actually, Bochy wears an 8 18 cap now. So even that jumbohelmet wouldve been a tight squeeze.