Giants spring training Day 18: WBC trio off to slow start as tourney approaches

Giants spring training Day 18: WBC trio off to slow start as tourney approaches

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — If the World Baseball Classic organizers were following the news out of Giants camp on Thursday, they couldn’t have been thrilled. Johnny Cueto, who will finally arrive at Scottsdale Stadium on Friday, will likely announce that he’s pulling out of the first round of play. Buster Posey missed a second straight game with a stiff neck. 

That leaves Brandon Crawford as the only Giants who is currently healthy and ready for the WBC. He went 0-for-3 against the White Sox, dropping his average to .091 during an accelerated spring. 

“I saw Christian Yelich had a home run. Adam Jones, too. (Nolan) Arenado hit one,” a smiling Crawford said of his Team USA teammates. “So we’re good.” 

There’s no reason for Jim Leyland to be concerned about his incoming shortstop. Crawford has gotten plenty of early at-bats and there have been no concerns with a throwing arm he usually rests during spring training.

“Once I get out there in games, it’s going to be pretty easy to get into game-mode,” he said. “You want everything to be more season-ready because you want to do well in the WBC. I think I’m close. I’m just not getting results.”

Crawford will combine with Arenado to form a frightening defensive duo. Bochy said that even with Posey’s minor hiccup, the Giants expect him to be fine to start alongside Crawford. Posey, who leaves Monday, hopes to catch a significant portion of Friday’s game and then start on Sunday. Thus far, he has just four spring plate appearances and nine innings behind the plate.

“Right now, he’s not showing any concern about being able to catch,” Bochy said. “He’s said his legs feel as good as they have in spring training.”

Cueto threw regular bullpen sessions while waiting for a visa for his father. He’ll have a physical on Friday and meet with the staff, at which point the Giants should get more clarity on how much he plans on throwing in the WBC. The expectation right now is that he will pull out of the first round but keep his options open to join should the Dominican Republic advance.

GAME RECAP: The Giants and White Sox combined for 10 errors. Ten! Bochy took the six Giants errors in stride, pointing out that four were from young prospects — Steven Duggar and C.J. Hinojosa. Duggar, making his first start in center, had two early errors but bounced back to reach base four times. He’s a really interesting prospect, with speed that has been on full display through the first week. The sloppiness hurt Matt Moore, who gave up four of the runs in an 8-6 loss to the White Sox. 

SPLIT-SQUAD: Over in Tempe, Tyler Beede pitched two scoreless innings, giving him four for the spring. The Giants lost 5-4. They made just one error in the road game … Chris Marrero hit his second homer of the spring … Mac Williamson, Aaron Hill and Kelby Tomlinson had two-hit days … Trevor Brown caught three guys trying to steal second. 

STOCK RISING: To my eyes, Jimmy Rollins has to be a slight favorite for the second backup infielder job at the moment. He’s had a good first week of games. Here’s a story about his debut at second base. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Over in Tempe, the Giants faced Yusmeiro Petit. If you missed it, here’s a look at Petit and all the other former Giants who are in big league camps as non-roster invitees. 

ROSTER UPDATE: If you were waiting for Josmil Pinto to arrive, I have bad news for you. His locker has been cleared out. Apparently he won’t be in camp. 

QUOTABLE: “That was the first time I’ve gotten got on a delayed steal. It was a super-delay. I could’ve sworn I checked. I was mid-stretch and he’s going.” — Crawford on Rymer Liriano taking second on a delayed steal. Nobody covered the bag.

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.