Giants notes: Melancon to be activated; Bochy plans around Kershaw

Giants notes: Melancon to be activated; Bochy plans around Kershaw

UPDATE (12.07pm PT on Wednesday): Despite Bruce Bochy saying that the team would wait until Friday to activated Mark Melancon from the disabled list, the Giants will activate their closer prior to Wednesday's game against the Dodgers.

Kelby Tomlinson was optioned to Triple-A Sacramento to make room on the 25-man roster for Melancon.


SAN FRANCISCO — On a cool afternoon at AT&T Park, Mark Melancon put on a hoodie and went out to once again test his right pronator strain. Melancon came out of the latest throwing session feeling good, but the Giants will wait a couple of days before activating their closer. Manager Bruce Bochy said Melancon will return Friday for the first game of a series in St. Louis. 

“To rush him before Friday is a little risky,” Bochy said. 

It’s unclear if Melancon has completely knocked out the irritation that has bothered him since spring training. The caution indicates that he hasn’t, but that wouldn’t be a surprise. These things tend to linger, which is why some players are watched more closely than others. Bochy said that when Melancon does return, there won’t be restrictions.

“He’ll be good to go Friday,” he said. 

Friday is a big day for another Giant on the DL. Conor Gillaspie will join Triple-A Sacramento for a rehab assignment and Aaron Hill, who is currently rehabbing with San Jose, will be his teammate. You can start to do the math here. The Giants are finally playing well, and now they have three pending roster moves. Hunter Pence expects to be back relatively soon, too. Who goes?

“We’re going to have to find a spot for them,” Bochy said. “I always say these things have a way of working out, but we’ll see where they’re at when they’re ready to come off.”

Translation: Don’t be surprised if another veteran comes down with a tight hamstring or stiff back.

--- Brandon Belt remains confident that he’ll get to Clayton Kershaw eventually, and there was a game last year where he blasted a fly ball that probably would have been a homer in half the parks in the NL. But Bochy isn’t taking any chances. Belt will be off Wednesday and it’s no coincidence. When trying to find breather days — Joe Panik got one Tuesday — Bochy looks at the upcoming pitchers. Belt is 3-for-51 off Kershaw. 

“The numbers are what they are,” Bochy said before Tuesday’s game. “Kershaw, lefties or righties are going to be tough, but those numbers are, uh, not pretty, let’s be honest. It’s a tough matchup for Brandon. Any time you try to find a guy a day of you try to find it against a tough pitcher for him, and that’s the case with Kershaw.”

There’s no shame in struggling against the world’s best pitcher. Belt is hardly alone. Denard Span is 0-for-13 off Kershaw and he’ll also be off Wednesday. 

The timing is perfect for Belt in another respect. He took a throw off the shin Tuesday and had a pretty good bruise after the game. 

--- A couple of familiar faces in new places: Drew Stubbs is now a Ranger; Neil Ramirez is now a Met. 

--- Hard-throwing right-hander Ray Black tweeted that he had surgery on his elbow and he’ll be out three to four months. That arm is a gift and a curse. Black can throw 104, but he’s never managed to stay healthy. The Giants DFA’d him earlier this season but he’s still with the organization. 

--- From last night, here’s my game story on Ty Blach, Belt and the Giants stretching their winning streak to five. 

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Bumgarner injury just the latest in recent run of misfortune for Giants

Eight years ago in this very space, I postulated that Brian Sabean had done a lucrative deal with Satan.Co to win the Giants’ first World Series in 56 years. He never denied it, so I took that as silent affirmation.

Now, it seems Beelzebub has brought the bill, to be paid in full on receipt of same.

The San Francisco Giants, who needed as few things as possible to go wrong to start this season, just got two full-on groin shots in the space of less than a week, the second of which was delivered when Madison Bumgfarner fractured his hand trying to repel a line drive from Kansas City second baseman Whit Merrifield during Friday’s Cactus League game.

The injury did not look serious at first because, well, because Bumgarner pretends to be made of adamantium, but an X-ray revealed the fracture and though no time for recovery was listed, Bumgarner may return to health before the Giants do.

And yes, I know spring training is no time for fans to lose hope for a cheery season, but you take the fact as they present themselves, and the Giants are already 40 percent down from their projected starting rotation. Jeff Samardzija is already on the disabled list with a hinky pectoral muscle, and as the Giants know all too well, things like this tend to come in sixes, if not eights.

The 2010 Giants hit on every midseason trade and parlayed that good fortune and the assets already on board to a storied October run. A year later, Buster Posey got Scott Cousin-ed, and his broken ankle snapped the team’s hope of repeating.

The Giants then won in 2012 and ’14 without too much incident, but starting midway through 2016, continuing into last year when Bumgarner flipped his dirt bike, and now down to today, it’s been nothing but seeds and stems for Giantvania.

The rumor mill has been quick to offer up possible replacements for the Bumgarner vacancy (though not for his expected results), but at a time in the game’s development when the best and most progressive-thinking teams are talking about four-man rotations and Staff on every fifth day, a strategic development that requires strength in numbers, the Giants have neither that strength nor those numbers.

Their best internal choices are veteran Derek Holland, who might already have been penciled in as Samardzija’s replacement, and phenom-in-training Tyler Beede. But that essentially uses up the in-house bank of usable goods, so Sabean can either buy something very off-the-rack or hope he and Bruce Bochy can fake it long enough for Samardzija (three to four weeks) and then Bumgarner (six to eight, according to ESPN's Buster Olney).

This seems awfully daunting, especially for a team that has buzzard’s luck and a rotting bat rack for a season and a half. But with six days before the regular season starts in Los Angeles against Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers...oh, the hell with it. If you’re a Giant fan, start drinking, and continue until further notice. The evil lord of the netherworld will tell you when it’s time to stop.

Bumgarner fractures bone in pitching hand in final tune-up before season

Bumgarner fractures bone in pitching hand in final tune-up before season

SAN FRANCISCO -- A day after the Giants lost one of the game's most durable pitchers, they took a much bigger blow. 

Madison Bumgarner fractured the fifth metacarpal in his pitching hand when he was hit by a line drive Friday in what was to be his final appearance before facing Clayton Kershaw and the Dodgers on Opening Day. The Giants did not have an immediate timetable for how long their ace will be out, but he is expected to miss a significant portion of the season for a second straight year. The rotation is already without Jeff Samardzija for the first month of the season because of a strained pectoral.

Bumgarner told reporters he will have surgery on Saturday to insert pins into his hand. He expects the pins to be removed in four-to-six weeks, and that he'll be able to pitch before the All-Star break. ESPN's Buster Olney reported that, in all, Bumgarner will be out for six-to-eight weeks.

Bumgarner looked poised for a huge season, and he threw well all camp. He was injured when hit by a liner off the bat of Kansas City's Whit Merrifield. Ironically, Bumgarner and Merrifield grew up close to each other in North Carolina, and Merrifield has told a story about getting beamed by an intimidating 11-year-old Bumgarner in little league.

The Giants had little rotation depth coming into the season, and the group is now in shambles. Derek Holland, a non-roster invitee, may be the No. 2 starter. The Giants will also have to lean heavily on young pitchers Chris Stratton and Ty Blach. Johnny Cueto is the de facto ace, but he's coming off a down year and at times has struggled this spring. 

There are not many appealing options left in free agency and the Giants likely would have to go into the tax to sign one. Tyler Beede and Andrew Suarez are the top in-house options.