Giants notes: Williamson's strong debut; Span the game-changer

Giants notes: Williamson's strong debut; Span the game-changer

SAN FRANCISCO — The five-song victory soundtrack came with a bonus track Monday: “Return of the Mack” by Mark Morrison. 

It was a nod to Mac Williamson, the outfielder who returned to AT&T Park in a big way. Williamson had a hard single to right in his first at-bat and an RBI single in the sixth that pushed the lead to five. The Giants would hold on for an 8-4 win. 

“It feels great any time you can help the team win, especially against the Dodgers.” Williamson said in a post-game interview on NBC Sports Bay Area. “Obviously Buster (Posey) is swinging it really well and we’re just trying to — (Christian) Arroyo and I at bottom of lineup — we’re just trying to do our job. I’m hitting eighth so I’m in front of the pitcher and trying to see some pitches and work counts. Arroyo did a great job in a few of his at-bats getting on. 

“He did a heck of a job on the sac fly. I was just trying to see some pitches and put one out there. He stole second and got in scoring position and I was able to push him over.” 

The two former River Cats teammates combined for a two-out run in the sixth. Arroyo walked and stole second for his first big league steal. Williamson hit one 106 mph the other way for the RBI. His previous single was hit 110, also the other way. 

“Mac had a nice debut, didn’t he?” Bochy said. “He looked comfortable, solid hits to right field. He was starting to come around in spring training. He got enough at-bats down there in Triple-A to get his timing.”

--- Hunter Pence expects to be back right around the 10-day mark, and both player and manager said the new 10-day DL made this a much easier decision. Pence might have fought it a bit more if it was a full 15.

“It’s a great move by Major League Baseball,” Bochy said. “It was probably a little overdue. That 15-day DL put you in a hard spot.”

The team across the way last night uses it better than anyone. The Dodgers are basically rotating veterans in and out, and Monday night’s starter — Brandon McCarthy — was put on the 10-day a week prior to this start even though he was only going to miss another day or two with a left shoulder issue. 

The Giants thought they might be able to do some similar things, but they don’t have as much pitching depth. They recently took a blow at Triple-A; hard-throwing right-hander Chase Johnson had Tommy John surgery on May 8. The Giants put him in the bullpen last summer because they thought that would help keep him healthy, but there are no correct answers when it comes to the elbow. 

--- Denard Span has been a game-changer since returning, but Bochy said he’ll probably get a day off during this series. The Giants face left-handers the next two days — Rich Hill and Clayton Kershaw. Bochy wants to keep Span fresh.

“Really, we’ve been trying to rest these guys a little bit more,” he said. “I wouldn’t call it quite a rotation but every six or seven days we’ll try to get them off the field. It’s going to be important to find a way to keep these guys fresh and rested. I think they’ll be better players.”

It’ll be a key once the weather heats up. For all the minor strains and tweaks the Giants have had, they haven’t had to deal with any hot or humid weather yet. That’s usually when guys start to wear down.

--- Some rehab updates: Aaron Hill will DH a couple of games for the San Jose Giants, who are in Visalia this week. That’s convenient for Hill. He’s from Visalia. 

Jarrett Parker played catch for the second time. He’s making slow but steady progress after clavicle surgery. 

--- A note for the “Let Belt Pitch” crowd, of which Brandon Belt is the president: Bochy said Belt would have been the next man up on Friday after Matt Cain. Now, this would’ve taken a while, because Cain could have thrown several innings if he actually got into that game. But still, baby steps. It’s usually a backup catcher or fifth infielder who has that job, so I couldn’t believe that Bochy never did it.

“They usually put guys out there that they don’t mind getting hurt,” Bochy said, “So I was surprised that I didn’t pitch.”

Madison Bumgarner waiting for results to match improved stuff on mound

Madison Bumgarner waiting for results to match improved stuff on mound

PHOENIX -- More than anything else -- the injuries, the rebuilding, the trade rumors -- Madison Bumgarner is frustrated by the losing.

So he was happy on Saturday night after getting backed by eight runs in the Giants' win over the Diamondbacks, but he was also perplexed. 

"It's a weird game," he said.

Bumgarner was referring to his own results. His stuff has taken a noticeable tick up in the last four starts, but he was charged with four runs in 6 1/3 innings on Saturday and has given up 11 earned in those four appearances. That's certainly not bad by any means, but it's not quite what he expects given how the ball is coming out of his hand. 

"I feel like I'm throwing the ball as good as I ever have," Bumgarner said. "The results not being there is frustrating."

Bumgarner's fastball and cutter again had a little extra zip on Saturday, and he hit 93 mph with eight pitches. He had done it 14 total times in his first nine starts. His fastball averaged a season-high 92.4 mph and his cutter was coming in at 88, but the pesky Diamondbacks kept making him work and eventually knocked him out in the seventh, when Bumgarner hit 93.2 mph with his last fastball of the game. That was his 10th-hardest pitch of the season. 

"Today I felt the best I've felt all year," he said of his command. "And somehow you look at the line and you walk three and give up four runs. It just doesn't match up. That's the frustrating part of the game."

Bumgarner shrugged it off, noting a couple of times how weird baseball can be.

[RELATED: Giants designate Altherr for assignment after one at-bat]

The results will come eventually, but by then he may be pitching in another uniform. There were plenty of scouts at Chase Field on Saturday to get a close eye at Bumgarner, and if the velocity bump sticks around and the command is still there, he could be the biggest name moved before the trade deadline. 

Giants designate Aaron Altherr for assignment after just one at-bat


Giants designate Aaron Altherr for assignment after just one at-bat

PHOENIX -- Even Michael Reed thinks the Aaron Altherr Era was short. 

Altherr, picked up on a waiver claim eight days ago, was designated for assignment by the Giants on Sunday morning to open a roster spot for Drew Pomeranz, who is returning from the Injured List to start the finale against the Diamondbacks. 

Altherr was active for four games but got just one pinch-hit at-bat, striking out. His time in the organization may not be up, though. The Giants will hope to get Altherr through waivers and stash him in Triple-A as they have done with others, and perhaps he could return later this season to get a true look in the outfield. 

For now, there's no space. Steven Duggar and Kevin Pillar are entrenched and the Giants remain committed to giving Mac Williamson an extended look in left field. Altherr even found it tough to get pinch-hit at-bats, as Tyler Austin is ahead of him in the "right-handed hitting outfielder" pecking order. It was not realistic to carry five outfielders much longer. 

[RELATED: Giants' table-setters, sluggers do their part vs. D-Backs]

Pomeranz will make his eighth start on Sunday. He has a 5.93 ERA in his first season with the Giants.