Giants

Giants still holding out on Beede-Suarez decision

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USATSI

Giants still holding out on Beede-Suarez decision

SAN FRANCISCO — Given a surprise Friday night off in April, Bruce Bochy went a little wild. 

He watched Orioles-Yankees AND A’s-Angels. The baseball never stops this time of year, and perhaps as he watched Pedro Alvarez and Shohei Ohtani hit moonshots, Bochy spent some time thinking about what’s ahead of the Giants. The immediate moves were made earlier Friday, when the Giants — rained out — decided to move Derek Holland back to Monday and keep Chris Stratton and Ty Blach on schedule. Bochy said he didn’t want to disrupt too many guys. 

That means Johnny Cueto — whose ankle is fine, by the way — starts Tuesday and a call-up starts Wednesday. The Giants aren’t ready to reveal whether it’ll be Tyler Beede or Andrew Suarez. Both have made one minor league start.

I’ve thought all along that Beede would get that start because he’s on the 40-man roster and Suarez is not, and it seemed more likely when the Giants sent Beede to A-ball to make sure he stayed on turn. But Bochy said the roster issue won’t come into play. 

“We’re looking to put our best guy out there,” Bochy said. 

Stay tuned. 

--- Jeff Samardzija threw a long bullpen session on Friday and will throw in a camp game in Arizona on Monday, along with Will Smith. After that, Samardzija will probably throw one more minor league rehab game and then rejoin the rotation. If he’s in San Jose, he’ll likely be with Smith again. The lefty is expected to start his minor league rehab next week.

--- An interesting pre-game note from Bochy: He said he purposely loaded Wednesday’s lineup with Venezuelans against countryman Felix Hernandez. Pablo Sandoval and Gregor Blanco were already scheduled to play, but Bochy had a decision to make when Hunter Pence was a late scratch. 

“The one guy was Gorkys. I know Gorkys really looks up to (Felix),” Bochy said. “I wanted to get Gorkys in there. When Pence couldn’t go, I could have played (Austin) Jackson.”

The hunch worked. Hernandez and Sandoval both homered in a blowout of King Felix and the Mariners. 

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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USATSI/AP

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.