Giants

Giants notes: Gearrin placed on DL, Bochy confident in return

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Giants notes: Gearrin placed on DL, Bochy confident in return

SAN FRANCISCO -- After his bullpen blew a lead Tuesday night, Giants manager Bruce Bochy promised to get with coaches Dave Righetti and Mark Gardner to discuss bullpen changes. The staff did meet, and a new reliever was added, but not because of anyone's struggles. 

Cory Gearrin was put on the disabled list Wednesday with a strained right shoulder and Albert Suarez was recalled from Triple-A Sacramento. Bochy said the training staff is confident that Gearrin will need just the two weeks. The sore shoulder is something he has dealt with in the past.

"It was going to be a few days (off) so we placed him on the DL to get this cleared up," Bochy said. "He's had a good first half and been used quite a bit. I don't think he was saying anything, but it was affecting his slider. It was obvious."

Gearrin was a revelation early on but his ERA has crept up to 3.89 thanks to a rough stretch. He gave up a go-ahead three-run homer to Nolan Arenado on a hanging slider Tuesday. 

Bochy hopes the break is good for Gearrin. The manager has said many times in the past that he wishes he could give all relievers a two-week rest during the season, but it's just not possible. Bochy's current group certainly can use the All-Star break. Four relievers rank in the top 18 in the National League in appearances. 

"We know we've been using these guys a lot," Bochy said. "We've had our struggles. We've had to pick up some guys, so that upped the usage."

--- Matt Cain will throw about 65 pitches for Triple-A Sacramento on Friday and Bochy said he'll make one more rehab appearance. With two days off on the first trip out of the break, it's possible that the Giants could skip the No. 5 spot and let Cain get additional work down in the minors. Bochy indicated that he might do that at least once. 

--- Matt Duffy ran on a treadmill and then took BP on the field, and he could start a rehab assignment during the break. But he won't be ready for the second-half opener next Friday night in San Diego. 

--- Bochy said Hunter Pence is "coming along and right on pace." It sounds like he could start a rehab assignment sometime next week. 

--- Gregor Blanco (knee) is feeling better and is available to pinch-hit tonight. Denard Span took early BP and said a trigger injection in his neck did wonders. He should start Friday. 

--- Jake Smith was claimed by the Padres, so the Giants lost a good arm during all this shuffling. Smith had a breakout 2015 but has struggled this season because of injuries. He was designated for assignment last week to clear a 40-man spot for Grant Green.

--- In case you missed it, I talked to Joe Panik about his concussion and the decision to continue playing. 

The Mac Williamson Show rolls on: 'It's been fun to watch'

The Mac Williamson Show rolls on: 'It's been fun to watch'

SAN FRANCISCO — During his pre-game media session on Tuesday, Bruce Bochy was asked about the “elephant in the room.” What will he do with Mac Williamson when Hunter Pence is ready to come off the disabled list?

“That’s a big elephant,” Bochy joked. 

These things do tend to settle themselves, and in the fifth inning against the Nationals, it looked like the most unfortunate resolution might be in play. Williamson went hard after a Bryce Harper pop-up in foul territory and slammed his head and neck into the padded wall alongside the home bullpen. He took a second to take inventory of his body and trainer Dave Groeschner walked him back to his position. When he got to the dugout, Williamson was given a quick concussion test. He came back fine. 

There’s another way to settle a position battle, and Williamson showed it an inning later. His laser shot into the net beyond the center field wall was the difference in a 4-3 win over Washington. It was also his third homer in five starts since being recalled. He has three of the four hardest-hit homers of the season for the Giants in just 19 at-bats. 

At the moment, there’s no way the Giants can think about removing Williamson from left field. If anything, Bochy needs to ponder moving him up in the order. 

“We’ve talked about what a shot in the arm he’s been,” Bochy said. “It’s been fun to watch. Good for him, because he’s worked hard at it.”

Williamson’s offseason mechanical adjustments are well chronicled at this point. But the key Tuesday may have been the confidence that comes with making changes that click. In the past, coaches have been frustrated by an occasional lack of aggression in big spots. When Williamson came up with two outs in the sixth, he got a first-pitch curveball from Tanner Roark and smoked it towards the batter’s eye. 

“Now his confidence is so high,” Bochy said. “He’s up here and having success here against good pitching. It’s something we need, a guy who can provide offense and power, and he’s more than done that.”

Williamson was not alone on this night. Brandon Belt, who recently made a swing adjustment of his own, homered for the fifth time in six games. Ty Blach overcame a bout of food poisoning that cost him nine pounds over the weekend and managed to give Bochy five innings. Reyes Moronta went two and got his first career win. Sam Dyson, relegated to mop-up duty early in the year, induced a big double play to get out of the eighth. Hunter Strickland shut it down for a second consecutive night. 

The end result is a team that is now rolling. The Giants have taken back-to-back series from the Angels and Nationals. They are hitting for power and continue to pitch well. They’ll have their hands full Wednesday when they go up against Max Scherzer, but they have a new secret weapon, and Williamson hopes to be up for the task. He said he’s sure he’ll be sore once the adrenaline wears off, but he did not sound like a player who will need a day off. Any issues he had as he got up from the brutal-looking collision were not related to the bruise on his elbow or tweak to his calf. 

“I was just a little frustrated that I didn’t come up with the play, to be honest,” he said. “I had it in my glove.”

He more than made up for it an inning later. 

What happens to Williamson when Pence returns? Bochy addresses issue

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What happens to Williamson when Pence returns? Bochy addresses issue

SAN FRANCISCO — The outfielders met on the field before batting practice Tuesday to do some extra throwing, and in left field Mac Williamson and Hunter Pence stood side by side. That’s fine at 4:15 p.m., but how will it work when Pence is healthy and both are eligible to play left?

“We’ll cross that bridge when Hunter is ready and we think he’s ready,” Bochy said. “They always tell you it’s a good problem, so hopefully we have a good problem here.”

Pence took early BP and later joined in with the regular session, and his thumb is said to be feeling good. He’ll be eligible to start a rehab assignment before the end of the homestand and Bochy said he would need a few games in San Jose or Sacramento. 

After that … it gets complicated. 

The issue isn’t as much about playing them both as it is about fitting both on the roster. Williamson has two monstrous homers in four starts and anything close to that production will keep him around. The Giants are in desperate need of that kind of game-changing talent. Pence was batting .172 at the time he was put on the disabled list with no homers. 

Austin Jackson is batting just .211 and was out of the leadoff spot Monday, but he was brought in as the starting center fielder and his problems don’t appear to be health-related. Gregor Blanco has a .817 OPS and is leading off against some right-handers. Gorkys Hernandez has a .708 OPS in limited time and Bochy likes his versatility as a defensive replacement. 

Throw in Andrew McCutchen and that’s six outfielders for five spots, and the Giants are not going to keep six outfielders on the active roster. These things often sort themselves out, and there’s some time before Pence is back and done with his rehab assignment, but an awkward situation doesn’t appear to be clearing anytime soon.