PHILADELPHIA -- Christian Arroyo wasn't on the team flight Thursday because the Giants thought they might need another pitcher to cover for a suspended Hunter Strickland. That move never was made, but on Sunday, another transaction sent the promising rookie back to the minors.
Arroyo was optioned to Triple-A before the final game with the Phillies. The move opened up a roster spot for Hunter Pence, who was activated after missing 20 games with a hamstring strain. Arroyo got off to a hot start, but his playing time had been cut over the past week amid a 2 for 28 slump.
“We don’t need this 22-year-old kid sitting,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He needs to be playing every day. I thought he handled himself well. Like a lot of young players, there are going to be ups and downs and growing pains. But he was a shot in the arm when he came up and he got big hits and homers. I loved his defense and he he handled the tough days.
“He was still playing solid defense for us wherever we put him. This is a great experience for him. He’s ahead of the curve already.”
The Giants never planned to have Arroyo up this early, but he forced the issue by hitting .446 in his first month in Triple-A. That gaudy line hid a concern, however: Arroyo drew just two walks in 16 games. That’s been a trend throughout his meteoric rise. Arroyo had a .244 on-base percentage at the time of his demotion.
“He’s an aggressive hitter,” Bochy said. “You want to tone it down to a point and not lose that aggressiveness. Even in Sacramento he wasn’t walking a whole lot.”
Bochy said that will come with more plate appearances, and Arroyo understands it. He said he wants to get back to being “selectively aggressive.”
“I think the biggest thing is working on my plate discipline,” Arroyo said. “It’s hard to work on stuff when you’ve got guys playing well and I haven’t been swinging the bat of late. It’s part of the game that you’ve got to kind of deal with. I’m looking forward to getting back to playing every day and getting back to doing what I need to do.
“I’ll work on patience. When I started scuffling I started getting swing-happy and putting pressure on myself.”
Arroyo said the highlights — his huge first week, big hits in New York and St. Louis — were “cool moments” but added that he wishes he could have strung more hits together.
He’ll get a chance to do that with the River Cats and force his way back up. Eduardo Nuñez will go back to being the third baseman, but at this point he is the organization's most likely trade chip, so Arroyo should be back later this summer.
In the meantime, the Giants are close to having their projected lineup back together. Pence said he feels good, and he’ll be in the starting lineup Monday in Milwaukee. Bochy held him out Sunday because Pence’s flight did not arrive in Philadelphia until after 1 a.m.