Notes: Giants face decisions with Pagan, Nunez

Notes: Giants face decisions with Pagan, Nunez

SAN FRANCISCO -- Both managers called Monday night's game a fun one. It was also a reminder: Every roster spot is important in a playoff series. 

With that in mind, the Giants are having internal discussions about two injured players, Angel Pagan and Eduardo Nuñez. Pagan has back spasms that have kept him out of the lineup for two straight games, and it's unclear how available he'll be off the bench for Game 4. He was not able to play in any way Monday. Nuñez pinch-hit early and grounded out for the second time in the series, and he once again jogged to first to protect his aching hamstring. 

If the Giants replace a player before Game 4, they would have to add another position player to the roster, not a pitcher. Any player replaced in the NLDS would be ineligible for the NLCS. 

"We're evaluating the situation," Bochy said when asked about Pagan. "Right now, the deal with the back spasms, we'll see where we're at here in the next couple of hours obviously and decide. We're going to have to have an understanding on how soon we think he'll be ready and will he be ready for the next game."

Bochy said that "right now," the Giants don't plan on replacing Pagan. He sounded a bit more skittish with Nuñez, who isn't needed as a starter because Conor Gillaspie has turned into a postseason star. After the triple off Aroldis Chapman, you can throw out any left-right platoon, too. 

"It's coming around slower than we had hoped," Bochy said of Nuñez. "I thought he'd be further along at this point."

Bochy said Nuñez is under orders to take it easy on ground balls, which is why he shut it down once the ball left his bat last night. That's obviously not ideal for a speed guy, though. Part of his game is beating out slow rollers. 

Another factor at play: Shortstop Brandon Crawford is pretty sore after taking a shot off his funny bone last night, and the Giants could possibly replace Nuñez with Ehire Adrianza, a backup shortstop. 

--- Who gets the ninth tonight? "I'll let you know in the ninth," Bochy said, smiling. At this point, Will Smith might be the best option. He has 19 consecutive scoreless appearances and he's fresher than Sergio Romo, who pitched two innings last night. 

As for the rest of the bullpen, Bochy said he would like to stay away from Ty Blach, who pitched two innings and has 3 1/3 over the past two games in his first extended stint as a reliever. Jeff Samardzija is available out of the bullpen. Johnny Cueto is not, unless something insane happens. 

The bullpen was saved a bit by Madison Bumgarner's ability to work past the Jake Arrieta homer and get through five. Bochy said he was close to a move in the second, but ...

"It is Madison," he said. "The way he kept us in that game at three runs, we had George (Kontos) up and help on the way and he, to be honest, was pretty close to coming out. He knew it. He knew the situation and he gutted it out."

--- From last night, here's my game story. And here's a notebook leading with the famous "rally towel."

Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle


Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants nearly left Scottsdale unscathed. Instead they'll leave with an injured No. 3 starter, but the news on Jeff Samardzija late Thursday night was good news. 

Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Samardzija has a strained pectoral muscle that will sideline him for the start of the season. But given that Samardzija, who has had a rough spring, went for an MRI on his shoulder a week before the season opener, team officials have to be breathing a sigh of relief. 

"He'll go a week without throwing the ball and then crank it back up," Bochy told reporters, including Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. "It should't take long to get him back on the mound so it's good news."

Samardzija was supposed to take the ball next Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the Giants will rely on two young pitchers and a non-roster invitee at the back end of their rotation. The injury ends a three-way race for the final two spots between Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Derek Holland. The Giants could use all three in the rotation until Samardzija is healthy, or they could skip their No. 5 starter and move one of the pitchers into the bullpen. 

Because the Giants have two off days before their seventh game, Madison Bumgarner can line up to pitch three of the first nine games. The Giants have been considering that all spring, although they have yet to publicly announce a decision one way or the other. Bumgarner said early in camp that he would be up to the challenge, and given how sharp he was all spring, that might be the best way to tread water until Samardzija is cleared to return to the rotation.

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”