I had a chance to catch bits of this weekend’s games on the radio, and despite the three ugly losses by a combined score of 27–10, there were a few encouraging signs:
* Fred Lewis hustled a triple after lining a ball into the right-center field gap. The announcers said he was moving well, nice to hear after his off-season foot surgery. I speculated this winter that a fast recovery was no sure thing for a guy who needs every ounce of his God-given speed to be a valuable player. But Lewis’s work so far this spring, plus an extra week of camp thanks to the WBC, is making those worries fade quickly. I’m curious: What do you think all the happy talk about Lewis hitting 20+ home runs? Is it realistic?
* Madison Bumgarner and Tim Alderson, two of the hottest pitching prospects on the planet, each threw an inning in the Saturday game against San Diego. Bumgarner did well, Alderson did not. It sounded like Bumgarner threw nothing but fastballs. The best moment was when he froze Jody Gerut with a fastball for a called third strike with one out and a runner on third. Gerut, who came back from years of injury to post a solid season with the Padres last year, needed to put the ball in play, he probably knew a fastball was coming, and he still couldn’t pull the trigger against The Mad Bum.
* Brian Wilson worked on back-to-back days, a good sign that he’s healthy and raring to go. Osiris Matos also worked back-to-back days. Matos pitched in 20 games with the Giants last year, and he didn’t embarrass himself. He’s had a nice spring so far, but keep an eye on that strikeout total: only two in 8 IP. It’s the rare big-league reliever who can sustain a career if he can’t make batters swing and miss.
Matos might not win himself a roster spot, but at the least he’s making a case to pass Billy Sadler on the depth chart. Sadler has thrown a lot of ugly innings so far. Maybe he’s just working on a new pitch or something, but unfortunately the guy doesn’t have the luxury. He needs to start showing the Giants more than just tantalizing potential with his mid-90s fastball and big hook. Seven walks and only two Ks in five IP, even in the early spring, makes you wonder.
Note we haven’t heard news about Sergio Romo, who went down in late February with a sore elbow. Let’s keep our fingers crossed, but I’m assuming he starts the year on the DL, as does Merkin Valdez, who’s finally getting in-game work. Let’s update the bullpen competition:
* Unfortunately, the trend I spotted a few days ago of the Giants doing little to nothing against opponents’ starting pitchers has not changed. They’ve had trouble the past few games against guys like Dallas Braden, Cesar Ramos, Luke Hochevar, and Scott Feldman.