Giants

Giants designate Drew Stubbs, call up another veteran outfielder

Giants designate Drew Stubbs, call up another veteran outfielder

SAN FRANCISCO -- The search for improvement in the outfield led to another roster move on Saturday. 

The Giants designated Drew Stubbs for assignment and purchased the contract of Justin Ruggiano from Triple-A Sacramento. Ruggiano, 35, was in camp with the Giants but agreed to go to the minors to continue rehabbing a shoulder injury and get additional at-bats. He was hitting .259 at the time of his promotion. His minor league deal with the Giants did include an opt-out if he did not get called up by a specific date. 

Ruggiano can play all three outfield spots and he brings a very specific skill when healthy. In his career, he is a .275/.338/.527 hitter against left-handed pitching. 

Stubbs signed with the Giants after being let go by the Twins at the end of the spring. He was 2-for-22 with nine strikeouts. 

The Giants continue to struggle to get any production out of left and center field. Denard Span (shoulder) is currently in Arizona rehabbing at the club facility, and he hopes to start a rehab assignment with Triple-A Sacramento before this road trip is over. Melvin Upton Jr. was thought to be a possibility but he's out two months after surgery. Steven Duggar, the top center field prospect in the organization, is still sidelined by an injury suffered in the spring. 

Top of Giants' lineup again does its part, slugs way past Diamondbacks

Top of Giants' lineup again does its part, slugs way past Diamondbacks

PHOENIX -- The most important thing is that Joe Panik looks the part.

Everyone knows that if you pull up your socks, you immediately look faster, and with his black socks tugged up to his knees Saturday night, the Giants second baseman strolled to the plate in the first inning looking like your typical leadoff hitter.

The second-most important thing is that Panik is playing the part.

He reached base three times, raising his on-base percentage to .342 and extending his streak to 16 consecutive games with a hit or walk. On this night, he had both, with a hit and two walks, while hitting leadoff for a Giants lineup that did what you should against a struggling pitcher.

The Giants knocked Zack Godley out early and cruised to an 8-5 win over the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field. Eight players had a hit. Seven players drove in a run. There were productive outs and guys tagging up all over the place.

"I thought there was a sense of urgency early, and it kind of permeated," Giants center fielder Steven Duggar said.

Lately, the production has started at the top. Buster Posey was finding his swing before a concussion, and he has stayed hot since, with two more hits Saturday. Duggar has settled into the No. 2 spot. Ahead of them both, Panik has been a steady presence. He has raised his OBP by 73 points in the last two weeks after a slow start.

"The quality of the at-bats, he just looks comfortable up there," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's quiet. He's not making a lot of early outs. He looks like he's seeing the ball.

"I said it's just a matter of time before these guys get going. Joe looked really good in the spring."

That didn't immediately carry over, but it has here in May. The key to taking advantage is for the guys behind Panik, and behind Duggar and Posey, to come through in big spots, and on Saturday, they did.

[RELATED: Cueto looks good throwing in front of Giants staff]

The Giants kept the line moving, which they absolutely must do. And then in the end, there was a little pop, which they absolutely need away from Oracle Park. Brandon Belt hit his seventh homer of the season, and Pablo Sandoval had a pinch-hit shot, his sixth in limited time.

"It's nice to start him, but when he doesn't start, it's nice to have him come off the bench," Bochy said of Sandoval, smiling. "You look across the offense, and he's been the silver lining."

Johnny Cueto impresses Bruce Bochy, Giants staff with bullpen session

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AP

Johnny Cueto impresses Bruce Bochy, Giants staff with bullpen session

PHOENIX -- Johnny Cueto always stands out in spring training, because while every other pitcher in the row tries to show Giants coaches how well he's throwing, he seems to be playing a light game of catch.

Saturday was the exact opposite.

Cueto, about nine months removed from Tommy John surgery, threw in front of the Giants' staff at Chase Field and opened eyes with his 40 fastballs.

"He threw really, really well," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I think he surprised a lot of us with where he's at as far as his stuff, how hard he threw, his command."

Cueto's progression has been just about seamless, and he has matched the rehab work by dropping more than 20 pounds. Beyond the weight loss, he has toned up, replacing fat with muscle.

"Right now I feel like I'm a 25-year-old kid," Cueto said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. 

"I think this is the best shape I've seen Johnny in," Bochy said. "He looks very determined to get back as soon as possible."

Knowing how long the recovery process is, Bochy wouldn't commit to Cueto making an appearance this season. But the Giants always have targeted Sept. 1 as a return date, and Cueto has told members of the organization that he would like to return in the first half of August. On Saturday, he certainly looked like a pitcher capable of hitting that mark.

[RELATED: Bochy to 'keep pushing' despite ejection and another loss]

Cueto has thrown five bullpen sessions and started throwing his changeup off flat ground. He will throw the changeup in a bullpen session next week, and a week later will mix in breaking balls.

It is full steam ahead, with the goal of returning in time to make a few starts this season that set him up for a big return in 2020.

"My arm is telling me it wants to pitch," Cueto said.