Melancon goes on DL for first time, but expects to be back soon

Melancon goes on DL for first time, but expects to be back soon

NEW YORK — Mark Melancon was never put on the DL in his first eight seasons in the big leagues. He was disappointed when it finally happened Tuesday, and not just because he’s less than two months into a four-year deal that was the marquee signing of the Giants’ offseason. 

Melancon had hoped to pitch through inflammation in his right pronator, a muscle on the inside of the forearm. The Giants opted to be careful, and minutes before Tuesday’s game they shelved their new closer with a mild strain.

Melancon said he expects to be back when eligible May 16, or shortly thereafter. 

“It’s a mild strain and we can back-date it three days, so that helps,” he said. “I expect to be back as soon as possible.”

Melancon said the irritation has been there since the spring, but he was quick to point out that his participation in the World Baseball Classic’s final round had nothing to do with it. 

“I think I threw five pitches in the WBC and then got yanked,” he said, smiling. 

The Giants ordered an MRI when they were in Cincinnati, but Melancon hoped to contribute against the Mets. When he felt more irritation while warming up Monday, the team made the call. 

“He’s felt it on and off the last couple of weeks,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We made this call to put him on the DL so it’s not nagging him all year.”

The Giants did not make a roster move, and Bochy said it wasn’t a lock that Brandon Crawford will take the spot when he returns Wednesday. If the Giants opt to add another arm for the series finale, Reyes Moronta might be a surprise choice. The right-hander is the only pitcher at Double-A Richmond who is on the 40-man roster. 

Bochy said it’ll be closer-by-committee while Melancon is out, with Derek Law being the head guy. You can also probably expect some Steven Okert if lefties are coming up in the ninth. 

--- Of course, needing a closer means you have the lead. The Giants lost 6-1 on Tuesday, and they were never really all that competitive. Jeff Samardzija fell behind early and then ended up with one of just two hits from the Giants. The other was a solo homer by Buster Posey. 

“I can’t explain why we’re not hitting,” Bochy said. “These things are hard to explain. You can’t force it. You keep thinking we’re going to come out of it, but it’s been a while.”

--- A word about Eduardo Nuñez: It’s probably easy to place blame after the way that first inning went, but the blame should really be placed on the left field plan, not the player. Nuñez is an infielder, and the reports coming into the season indicated that he was shaky in the outfield. He’s willing to play out of position to try and help the team, but it’s not working. Somehow, the Giants need to find a way to put real outfielders in the outfield. They’re not scoring enough runs to give a hit or two away every night.

--- Crawford had a good night, collecting three hits and playing seven innings at Double-A. He will be at Citi Field on Tuesday but Bochy made it sound like Crawford might not be activated right away. He’s traveling tomorrow and then taking a long flight home with the team. Starting the final game of the trip is probably not in the cards.


Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts


Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants moved closer to setting their opening day roster on Monday when they made a significant round of cuts to their spring training roster. 

A total of 15 players were reassigned or optioned, bringing the total to 31 players remaining in camp. Many of the players cut Monday entered the spring competing for jobs. 

In the outfield, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater were optioned to Triple-A and Chris Shaw was reassigned to minor league camp. Williamson had a huge spring and was the likeliest of the trio to push for an opening day spot, but he'll start his year in the minors. Steven Duggar was not among the cuts, and he remains an option to make the team, with the Giants also looking at Gregor Blanco, Gorkys Hernandez and Jarrett Parker for backup spots. Hernandez and Parker are out of minor league options. 

Tyler Beede was optioned and Andrew Suarez was reassigned to minor league camp, leaving three players vying for the final two rotation spots. Ty Blach and Chris Stratton have been the favorites all along, although both struggled the last time out and Derek Holland has had a strong spring. 

Both backup catchers -- Trevor Brown and Hector Sanchez -- were reassigned, along with Orlando Calixte, who saw time in the big leagues last year. Joan Gregorio, Jose Valdez, Justin O'Conner and Kyle Jensen were also reassigned. Chase d'Arnaud, who appeared to be making a strong push, was on the list, too, leaving Josh Rutledge as the only competition for Kelby Tomlinson for the final infield spot. 

Finally, Derek Law and Roberto Gomez were optioned to Triple-A. Josh Osich remains and appears the frontrunner for a bullpen job. Julian Fernandez, the Rule 5 pick, also remains in camp. 

The Giants break camp on Friday.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.