Everyone was expecting this anyway, so not real big news, but just further admission of this fait accompli. Which I think is good anyway. Why rush Sanchez into uniform? We have Juan Uribe to start in his place right now, plus perhaps Frandsen could get some starts as well if he's on the bench too. DeRosa can play there if necessary as well.
Meanwhile, that opens up a spot on the bench for somebody who may be out of options. It could enable the Giants to keep Steve Johnson, their Rule 5 pick, on the 25 man for a couple of weeks to see how he does. It could also enable the Giants to hold onto a player who is out of options, like Ishikawa (though I would note that the way they have made a point to talk about him, he was going to be on the bench barring some huge lack of spring performance), Lewis, and Torres. Recent news (giantsrainman captured it well here at McCovey Chronicles) verified that Frandsen and Velez still have one option left. I think Velez is going to end up in Fresno for 2011, however, particularly if Ishikawa is OK playing LF, as they plan to do this spring (plus Frandsen can play LF if he is on the bench as well).
I think the sure bench players are Whiteside (no way Posey starts as backup, he needs the EXPERIENCE), Uribe, and Ishikawa, leaving two spots, three with Sanchez on DL and Uribe starting. For the two spots, I'm still thinking Frandsen and Lewis, though with DeRosa capable, they could keep Torres around instead of Frandsen. But he had a lucky year in 2009, I would rather see Frandsen up and maybe getting a few starts while Sanchez is out.
The extra spot then goes to someone who otherwise would have been sent down, but did well enough in spring to get some reward. Johnson would be first on the list, and his bar for achievement is lower because we lose him otherwise. This article also noted that Johnson is being looked at as a 5th starter, which makes sense to me because he's been a starter for much of his minor league career.
Neal has a bump but otherwise has no ill affects, laughing it off, and thus is cleared to continue preparations for the season. Schulman reported that he got hit last year too. He is the only position prospect, other than Posey, that I think has any hope of contributing to the major league club this season (I'm not counting Bowker, Burriss, or Frandsen, since they don't count as a rookie, which most people use as the cutoff for prospects).
On his second extra-base hit the other day, he came up feeling pain in the toe (fractured fifth metatarsal) that he hurt last year. He took himself out of the game as a precaution. He is on crutches but his X-ray was clean, so that is good. MRI is next step, which happened earlier today and he is hoping that all he did was tear scar tissue, in which case he could resume playing next week.
I don't expect him to win a bench job, they used recovery of injury to send Frandsen down last year, so I expect the same for Burriss this year plus they probably want him to get acclimated again with SS, since Renteria's contract is up this year (though there is a team option if I remember right) and Sanchez is signed to 2011.
Travis tore some ligaments in his left foot, falling down the stairs recently (he described as similar to "turf-toe") and had been working out with a walking boot. He just got out of the boot and says that he is feeling great. As I noted above, Bochy has been high on Ishikawa, as can be seen in this blog post by Haft, indicating that Ishikawa "has [a] strong chance of claiming a Major League job."
It just makes sense to keep Ishikawa around. First, he played great defense at 1B and hit well in AT&T. Second, they don't have any 1B ready to take over should anything happens to Huff, other than Ishikawa, they don't have much depth. They could play DeRosa or Sandoval there, but that would then weaken LF or 3B, though I suppose they could move DeRosa to 3B, Sandoval to 1B, then whoever to LF (Lewis, Bowker, Velez). It just seems like, as I read Ishikawa noting somewhere recently, he understands that the Giants got Huff to compete this season, and so he's preparing himself to support the team. Third, he's currently our best option for 2011, unless Neal or Pill can have a monster year in 2010 and take over 1B. Given the Giants preference for defense at 1B, Ishikawa is probably going to be around for at least this year.
He had his left wrist surgically repair last season and has been slowly getting into shape, not wishing to cause any setback by rushing things. He had been hoping to start the first game on Wednesday, but is not concerned that it is not 100% yet, as it just gets tired and he will need to build it up, by taking enough swings every day. He is reportedly "close to full batting practice", which is not as good as actually playing but a step closer to that goal.
Baggarly noted, however, that it is not uncommon for players who undergo wrist surgery to require a full year before they feel no pain or inflammation, and he was operated just after the season ended. So we'll see if DeRosa can play at his recent levels of offensive production or if he'll have a down season.
Renteria was embarassed too. His surgery was the simplest of all the surgeries and he appears to be recovering fine. Baggarly noted, "His swing looked unfettered as he pounded a couple of BP fastballs over the left-field fence." Bochy noted, "That elbow feels so much better. It's a sense of relief, too, knowing he can let the bat go with no pain." Hopefully this means a return to the good hitting he did in prior years, which would be a great boon to the lineup, as it could use another 800+ OPS hitter, at his high end, or even a mid to high 700 OPS hitter, which he was in other seasons.Giants Thoughts
Nothing really to worry about above, though perhaps DeRosa. But if it is just fatigue, then the Giants can bring in somebody for him late in the game, that should not affect his production otherwise. And good news generally for all the players.
Plus, Sanchez on the DL allows the Giants to take an extended look at someone during the season, particularly Steve Johnson, the Rule 5 pick. That would also allow the Giants to justify returning Bumgarner to the minors and AAA, where he can pitch for a couple of months and either force his way onto the roster or perfect some more pitches, because if his velocity is down, he is not forcing his way onto the roster and will need those other pitches. That would allow the Giants to carry both Wellemeyer and Johnson, to take a look at both, until dropping one when Sanchez comes off the DL.
Sanchez being out also allows the Giants to take a closer look at Frandsen and other 2B options during the spring. They need to see these players in as many game situations as they can to figure out who best to keep and who to cut. Particularly if there are so many players who still have an option available, like Frandsen and Velez.