Giants notes: Pence joins River Cats for rehab assignment


Giants notes: Pence joins River Cats for rehab assignment

SAN DIEGO -- Hunter Pence is no longer in San Diego.

"There's good news ... he left," manager Bruce Bochy said, smiling. 

It's very good news. Pence is on his way to Round Rock (just north of Austin) to join the River Cats and begin his rehab assignment. He'll play five innings in right field on Saturday and five more on Sunday before taking a day off. The River Cats go from the Austin area (if they're not tweeting photos from the Salt Lick BBQ in Round Rock they're living wrong) to New Orleans, so Pence certainly chose a good time to start his rehab assignment.

[PAVLOVIC: Giants notes: Pence, Panik ready for rehab assignments]

Bochy said he wants Pence to get about 30 at-bats before returning to the big leagues, although it wouldn't be a terrible bet to think he comes in just under that. The River Cats return to Sacramento on Friday and it wouldn't be a shock to see Pence -- who last year cut short a rehab assignment but texting Bochy: "Don't you want a ridiculous weapon?" -- fly from New Orleans to New York in time to play a game or three against the Yankees. We'll see.

As for the guy who is from New York, Joe Panik should be ready for a rehab game on Sunday or Monday.

--- Matt Duffy said he tried running during the break and "it didn't go as poorly as I thought it would." Still, he was running at about 50 percent, so he's not close to a return. 

"It's frustrating," he said. "As a baseball player, you want to get back out there."

The Giants are going slow on this one. There's no firm timetable for a return.

--- Cory Gearrin played catch the past two days and is doing well. He might be back before the end of this trip. What happens to the bullpen when Matt Cain and Gearrin are back on the roster? Bochy sure didn't sound like a guy ready to send Albert Suarez back down.

"We'll see where we're at when Cain comes back," he said. "He's pretty valuable. It's going to be a tough call whichever way we go."

The Giants could send an outfielder down when Cain is activated Wednesday since they'll play with a DH all week (no double-switches). At some point they'll have to make some tough calls, though. The backups have generally played well, but Cain, Gearrin, Pence and Panik will need four roster spots in the next 10 days or so.

--- If you got sucked into a Mr. Robot vortex during the break and missed any Giants action, here are our first half power rankings, and here are 10 questions for the second half.

--- Last time the Giants were here the Padres tried to mess with them by playing boy bands and Enya. The Padres got swept and Brandon Crawford thanked them for helping to pump him up. Today it was normal ballpark BP music.

Dereck Rodriguez sets second-half tone, leads Giants to win vs A's

Dereck Rodriguez sets second-half tone, leads Giants to win vs A's


OAKLAND — To make a run at a division title, the Giants need Dereck Rodriguez to match his big first half. Perhaps the rookie has bigger plans. 

Rodriguez took the ball on the first night of the second half and allowed just one run on three hits against a tough A’s lineup. He departed with one out in the seventh and the bullpen took it home, clinching a 5-1 win that evened this Bay Bridge series at two games apiece. 

Here's what you need to know from the first game back... 

--- Rodriguez walked none and struck out five. He lowered his ERA to 2.72. 

--- With Brandon Belt on the paternity list, Ryder Jones was called up for a spot start. He certainly made the most of it. Jones jumped on a 2-0 slider from Edwin Jackson in the fifth, smacking a homer off the right field foul pole. The blast was the third of the 24-year-old’s career. He hit two last season as a rookie. 

--- Andrew McCutchen had a pair of sliding catches. The robbery of Jonathan Lucroy in the fifth inning had a catch probability of just 66 percent. 

--- Pablo Sandoval hit a no-doubter to right in the seventh inning. It was his 14th homer since returning to the Giants last summer, matching his total in Boston. 

--- The A’s announced a crowd of 45,606, a sellout. They’re expecting a few thousand more on Saturday.

Up for one night, Ryder Jones takes advantage of Giant opportunity

Up for one night, Ryder Jones takes advantage of Giant opportunity

OAKLAND -- In the seventh inning Friday night, 26-year-old starter Dereck Rodriguez gave way to 25-year-old Reyes Moronta. Rodriguez jogged to the dugout and sat next to Andrew Suarez, 25, and the two rookies watched Moronta strand a runner. A few minutes later, 24-year-old center fielder Steven Duggar strolled to the plate and roped a single into right. 

There's a youth movement in San Francisco, but you might have known that already. Rodriguez, Suarez and Moronta were a big part of the story of the first half and Duggar made waves over the final week. 

What you might not have realized is that another player in the middle of all the action Friday night is actually younger than all four of them. Ryder Jones got 150 big league at-bats last season and had not been seen since, and it's often easy to write a player off when he disappears for a stretch. But Jones, a former second-round pick, is still just 24. He was born seventh months after Duggar, who previously was the youngest player on the roster. 

There's still plenty of time for Jones to find his stride and live up to the promise he has shown at times. On Friday, there was another flash of that talent. Jones hit a long solo homer in the fifth, giving the Giants a lead they would never let go. With a 5-1 win over the A’s, the Giants got their second half off to a rocking start and tied this Bay Bridge Series at two games apiece. 

Jones is likely headed back to Sacramento. The plan was for him to come up for one day to fill in while Brandon Belt witnessed the birth of his second son, and he certainly took advantage of the opportunity.

“I thought the homer was huge for him,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It was huge for us. He’s been doing a nice job there in Sacramento the last month. He’s doing what we were hoping this year, having another big year. That’s all he needs is at-bats and experience. He’s got the tools to be a nice big-league player.”

Jones struck out in his first at-bat, but got ahead in the count 2-0 the next time up. Edwin Jackson tried to sneak a slider across the inside of the plate and Jones crushed it. Both players leaned — in different directions — and watched as the ball clanked high off the pole. 

The Giants are leaning heavily on rookies this year, but Jones was part of a 2017 class that never found footing. Just about every player in that group got hurt, and most struggled in the majors. Jones batted .173 last year, striking out in a third of his at-bats. With Evan Longoria brought over and Pablo Sandoval locked in, Jones didn’t get much time this spring. He picked up outfield play in Scottsdale, hoping to increase his versatility, but he has primarily been the third baseman in Sacramento. At the time of this latest promotion, Jones was batting .299 in Triple-A, with nine homers, 15 doubles and 48 RBI. 

He’ll head back to a River Cats squad that has provided plenty of help. Rodriguez started the season there. On Friday, he allowed one run over 6 1/3 innings, lowering his ERA to 2.72.

“I trust my stuff. I trust my stuff,” Rodriguez said. “I was just going after them.”