Giants spring training Day 24: Cueto feels good after long throwing session

Giants spring training Day 24: Cueto feels good after long throwing session

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants have never had any questions about Johnny Cueto's durability, but there were some slight concerns when he missed the early weeks of camp while tending to his ill father. Coaches were curious to see how Cueto would look in person. They're no longer curious. 

"How'd you like that?!" one coach cracked to reporters after Cueto threw 65 pitches in a live BP session.

Yes, Cueto is the same as he ever was. The man who threw five complete games last season barely even took a breather while ramping up the pitch count. Cueto took one break, grabbing water from pitching coach Dave Righetti. Then he went back to quick-pitching prospects, finishing off the marathon session with a shimmy. 

Cueto said he feels great physically. Through interpreter Erwin Higueros, he said he hasn’t ruled out the WBC. He will make two starts down here before making any decision.

“I want to pitch (but) I want to see how I feel,” he said. “If I get to make two starts and I feel good, then maybe I’ll go to the WBC.”

Cueto said he’ll have to see how his father is doing, because he doesn’t want to leave him so soon after a hospital visit. It seems the only way he could play is if the Dominican Republic advances all the way, in which case he could fly to Los Angeles for the semifinals or final. 

GAME RECAP: The Giants won 6-5 on Chris Marrero's second walk-off homer of the spring. Marrero has four homers, leading the team by a pair. 

"I think he likes Arizona," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's throwing out good at-bats and doing a good job. We're excited to have him. He's a threat, that's what you love about him. Even with two strikes, he still got a good swing off."

That last part is key. Today was the first really hot day down in Arizona and the ball is starting to fly, so guys are going to start piling up numbers. Bochy is looking at the quality of the at-bats, and Marrero has been on-point even when making outs. He hasn't played much in the outfield, but he showed off a strong arm during pre-game drills Wednesday. He's doing all he can do at the moment. 

Hunter Pence had a triple and Michael Morse and Jarrett Parker drove in runs as the Giants edged a very talented Puerto Rico squad. If you pick just a handful of WBC games to watch, check out Puerto Rico. The Lindor-Baez-Correa infield is absurd, and Lindor and Baez teamed up early in Wednesday's game for a slick double play. 

CALLING HIS SHOT: Morse said he was going to hit a homer. And then he hit a homer. Here's an update on where he stands as the Giants hit their first off day of the spring. 

ICYMI: An interview with Conor Gillaspie was the latest podcast. You can stream it here. There will be one more podcast this week, so subscribe here (and maybe leave a review?)

ANTHONY REYES' TRAINER'S ROOM: All is good. Eduardo Nuñez was cleared to play third base Wednesday and Conor Gillaspie is also fine after a bout of sore arm.

QUOTABLE: "I don't fumble. I don't jump on fumbles, either." -- Jeff Samardzija, during a conversation about pitcher defense. 

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.