Tag: Eugenio Velez

No Need For Dontrelle Willis, But Giants Should Stock Up Down Stretch

The San Francisco Giants are still in the playoff chase, even after Monday’s mind-bending loss.

Really, could the gem that Jonathan Sanchez pitched have been wasted any more painfully that it was against Colorado in the series opener?

Could an apparently inspiring win have been lost any more quickly?

The Colorado lead-off hitter reached in the ninth before a misplayed fly ball led to a freaky bounce on an accurate throw to third. The Giants 1-0 edge became a 2-1 Rockies win in an instant.

Moving forward, the Giants do have reason to give great thought to the pending September call-ups. They are in position where they should ponder dropping a player from the 40-man roster to make room for a relief pitcher, or maybe a starter, who can help in the final month.

Players already on the 40-man roster who, most obviously, figure to be recalled are relief pitcher Waldis Joaquin and, potentially, starter Henry Sosa. The pen will get a lift when Dan Runzler returns from the disabled list. Chris Ray and Guillermo Mota will also come off the DL, but history indicates that won’t necessarily make the bullpen better.

The Giants have no business adding veteran Dontrelle Willis to the 40-man roster. First, adding him means dropping a player from the 40-man for a completely fallen star. Second, left-hander Matt Yourkin and right-hander Steve Edlefsen are far more deserving of a spot on the 40-man and in the big leagues in September.

Willis has only pitched in three games in Fresno. In three innings, the struggling veteran has walked four, given up two hits and allowed three runs. The southpaw Yourkin, who could start or relieve in San Francisco, is 7-8 with 4.36 ERA and 1.38 WHIP in 130 innings—mostly as a starter. Edlefsen is 7-1 with a 2.04 ERA and six saves coming out of Fresno’s bullpen.

Edlefsen is a career Giants farmhand who merits the big league bid more than Yourkin, at least based on numbers. Yourkin, however, is a journeyman who would give the club a fourth lefty in the pen. The Giants would get more use out of Yorkin as a situational lefty or, perhaps, as a spot starter to give the beleaguered rotation a break heading into September.

The players most likely to be dropped from the 40-man roster to make room for Yourkin, Edlefsen, or Willis include left-hand reliever Alex Hinshaw, right-hand starter Kevin Puecetas and journeyman utilityman Eugenio Velez.

The Giants can make a case for either of those pitchers having long-term value. Velez has the potential for short-term help as a pinch-runner or pinch-hitter. But, really, he has too often squandered opportunities to keep a big league job. How much help, really, will Velez provide in this playoff chase?

The Giants would be wise to trim Velez from the 40-man roster and add Yourkin, simply because the starting pitchers need a break and there isn’t a starting pitcher in the pen right now. And, there’s always a need for another lefty reliever.

Emmanuel Burris can be recalled to provide late-inning defense up the middle and pinch-run. Ryan Rohlinger could help at shortstop where Juan Uribe has played every single day since Edgar Renteria was hurt.

There are other hitters for the Giants to consider.

First baseman Brett Pill is on the 40-man roster and has a solid season in Fresno. Brandon Belt is, clearly, the first baseman of the Giants’ future. Belt is not on the 40-man, so bringing him up after hitting .217 in six games at Triple-A doesn’t make sense. There’s use for a right-handed bat like Pill.

Pablo Sandoval has finally gotten hot at the plate, but has become a defensive liability at third base. Lefty-swinging third baseman Conor Gillaspie hit .290 with a .350 on-base percentage for Double-A Richmond. The former first-round draft pick has six homers and 63 RBIs. He has 16 errors for the Flying Squirrels, but he still merits a spot in San Francisco in September.

Gillespie could pave the way to move Sandoval to first base some down the stretch—and fill in if Sandoval is needed to catch in an emergency. It would be nice to see and show where’s the young third baseman stands as a prospect.

The Giants could make recalls on the cheap. Save the meal money and hotel costs to house the extra players for 30 days. With a playoff spot there for the taking and the knowledge that we never know when the least likely player becomes the most inexplicable hero, the Giants should call all hands on deck.

Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Reach Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com

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SF Giants: Five September Call-ups Who Could Impact Their Playoff Run

The San Francisco Giants appear to be making a serious run at the playoffs, especially in the NL Wild Card race.

With Sept. 1 just a few days away, here are five September call-ups who could push the Giants over the edge, securing them a spot in the postseason.  

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Fallen Giant Eugenio Velez “OK,” Ball Park Reporting Is Not

Eugenio Velez is “doing OK,” according to the San Francisco Giants medical staff after he was hit in the head by a foul line drive off the bat of Pat Burrell on Saturday night in Arizona.

The 28-year-old utilityman went through tests at a Phoenix hospital where he spent the night. The Giants finish a four-game series in Arizona on Sunday.

Reports indicate that Velez suffered a concussion. Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed after the game that the player did not suffer a fractured skull and that he, initially, “wasn’t really responsive.”

The incident and attempts to follow up on the condition of the fallen player have shown exactly how ill-equipped members of the sports media in the ball park are to actually track down information not directly related to the game.

When Velez was hit and knocked down by Burrell’s scorching liner into the dugout, the Giants TV team of Duane Kuiper and Mike Krukow didn’t bother to even consider that there could’ve been an injury, let alone a serious one.

“That’s a serious ugly-finder,” Kuiper joked, referring to the duo’s running joke that any foul ball will “find” the ugliest player or coach in the dugout. Krukow did note, fairly quickly, that “somebody might have been hit.”

The Comcast Bay Area camera crew showed Barry Zito, Matt Cain and others looking visibly upset. The Giants training staff was scrambling to treat the fallen player.

All the while, Kuiper and Krukow were speculating about who was down and where the ball hit the fallen player.

Before Velez was treated in the dugout and taken away on a stretcher, Kuiper was urging for viewers to remember Velez in their prayers because Krukow, somehow, had determined the ball had struck him in the temple.

A blow to the temple could’ve taken the player’s life.

Minutes after Velez went down, San Francisco Chronicle Giants beat writer Henry Schulman posted on the newspaper’s “Giants Splash” blog that Velez had been struck by a line drive in the dugout.

Schulman’s post headline read: “Velez struck in head by Pat Burrell foul ball. It appears serious.”

The veteran beat writer then wrote: “I can’t see into the dugout from the press box and the TVs up here are showing an Arizona feed. So thanks to my many Twitter followers who reported seeing on the Giants’ broadcast that Velez was removed from the dugout…”

How he could speculate that the injury was “serious” based on reports from Bay Area TV viewers is unclear. Later in that initial blog, Schulman wrote, “Velez is on the way to the hospital…I will provide updates as soon as I get them, of course.”

Schulman did update the results of tests on Velez in his game story after the Giants beat the Diamondbacks 10-4.

The blog post simply detailing a potential “serious” injury was still posted as the lead item near five hours after the incident.

The members of the print and online media share the press box and, most assuredly, could’ve gotten an update on the condition of Velez with a trip downstairs to the Giants clubhouse.

Gathering specific information would’ve served all news outlets, and fans, better than leaving initial online reports posted for hours. And, fans could’ve gotten information in seconds.

The value of online reporting is, in theory, that information can be made available immediately.

Typically, it took only minutes for blogger Adam Jacobi at sbnation.com to produce a poorly conceived opinion piece merged with the news report.

In it, Jacobi went from reporting on the near tragedy to suggesting that all players might soon be required to wear protective helmets in the dugout.

And, he mixed in some ill-timed levity.

“He (Velez) was taken from the dugout by stretcher and rushed to a local hospital. There’s no video available,” Jacobi wrote, “but unless Eugenio Velez owes you a substantial sum of money, you do not need to watch him get hit in the head with a baseball.”

One wonders why the need to lighten the mood won out.

Jacobi proceeded to show that there is a noticeable difference between a reporter and a blogger. He wrote the following while Velez was en route to the hospital with an undiagnosed, potentially life-threatening, injury.

“When the extent of Velez’s injury is known, it’ll likely spark some debate about whether it’s still within baseball players’ best interests to not wear more protective headgear in several situations…”

Any fan who saw Burrell’s liner steam into the dugout and knock Velez down was far more concerned about the extent of the injury than whether it would “spark some debate” about players wearing helmets in the dugout.

Velez is, thankfully, on the mend.

The state of news-gathering efforts at big league ball parks remains in doubt.

Ted Sillanpaa is a Northern California sports writer and columnist. Contact Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com

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Eugenio Velez Returns With Mark DeRosa On DL; Freddy Sanchez Wants More Time

The San Francisco Giants put left fielder Mark DeRosa on the 15-day disabled list on Monday, and recalled utility man Eugenio Velez from Fresno in the Pacific Coast League.

Meanwhile, former National League batting champion Freddy Sanchez is continuing his injury rehabilitation assignment in the minor leagues with the Triple-A Grizzlies. Fresno played a doubleheader in Oklahoma City on Monday night.

DeRosa’s DL stint was made retroactive to May 9, as he has nerve inflammation in his left wrist. He underwent wrist surgery in 2009, and, apparently, the surgery failed to fix the ailment.

DeRosa is hoping to bounce back sufficiently to play through this season, and have wrist surgery in the offseason. 

Velez was batting .186 following an 0-for-17 slide, when he was demoted on May 7. He hit .292 in six games with Fresno. He had one extra-base hit, a double, and one RBI.

The Giants did consider calling on Sanchez to take DeRosa’s spot on the roster. The second baseman entered Monday’s Triple-A doubleheader with two hits in seven Triple-A at-bats.

Sanchez, reportedly, wants more time with Fresno to fine tune his game.

“It’s a case of deciding what’s right for Freddy and the ball club. He’s had a handful of at-bats facing Triple-A pitching,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said as the club prepared to open a two-game set in San Diego. “For his sense of comfort to come up here and be ready, we want him to have the confidence to say, ‘You know what? I’m ready to face major-league pitching.

We talked about Freddy. Could we risk him? Yeah, but where we’re at this point of the season we decided to give him a couple more days, a little bit more if he needs that, to make sure he’s comfortable and feeling he’s ready.”

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If the Giants Can Learn To Finish, They’re on the Brink of Something Big

Enough with watching these Giants snatch defeat from the jaws of victory and having to listen to some knucklehead impersonate a first-grade teacher and say, “There’s no reason to panic. It’s still early in the season.”

Oh, we’ll hang with the Giants through all 162 games. It’s the folks who think anything short of accepting every loss gracefully is actually a show of pure panic.

Some of us realize that the 2010 Giants could have put some distance between themselves and their NL West foes by now. We don’t look at the record they have and say, “Boy, that’s better than we expected!” We look at the record and think about the games the Giants gave away and we fume.

We don’t panic.

We know it’s a long season.

We just know how important it is to take full advantage of Tim Lincecum’s magic or the inexplicable games where Nate Schierholtz goes 5-for-5. (Or, of games where Lincecum was magical and Schierholtz had five hits.)

Look, we agree that this is a flawed Giants team. In fact, it’s knowing that they have flaws that makes a 12-9 record entering the big three-game set against the Rockies hard to swallow.

Is it a show of panic to suggest that the Giants need to be able to beat the Phillies twice—then figure out how to keep a 4-1 lead with one out in the ninth and Lincecum on the hill?

Lincecum is the best pitcher in the National League.

He had thrown 106 pitches the other day and needed to get two outs in the ninth—before the Phillies he’d baffled all day could score three runs to tie.

The Giants had a signature Lincecum masterpiece on their hands. He is the heart of the franchise. The crowd was ready to believe that anything was possible after he just embarrassed the defending NL West champions for 8 1/3 innings.

Then, he walked a batter on four straight pitches. (Yes, we realize they were high. And, we know that the average pitcher who misses high is showing signs of fatigue. There’s just nothing average about Lincecum.)

Juan Marichal was 25 years old in 1963 when he dueled Warren Spahn through 15 1/2 scoreless innings. Willie Mays homered in the bottom of the 16th. The Giants won 1-0.

Lincecum’s 25 right now and he got the hook in favor of Brian Wilson after throwing 106 pitches. One media type actually said, “Sure…leave Lincecum in to finish that game…then come and see me when his arm’s hanging off in September!”


Marichal threw 225 pitches that night in 1963. He skipped his next start, just to be safe. Then the Dominican Dandy came back to dominate the National League for seven more brilliant seasons. (Spahn was 42 years old. His arm didn’t fall off after 16 innings either.)

No one was worried about Marichal’s arm that night in 1963. So, it’s tough to yield to the beliefs of the touchy-feely types who fear for Lincecum’s health.

It’s impossible to let their voice rule the day. And, because we feel that Lincecum should’ve finished does not mean we’re in a state of panic.

Wilson came in and walked a batter, suffered some bad luck on that looper that landed on the foul line to clear the bases.

The Giants blew a chance to finish a win that would’ve further defined Lincecum’s reputation as the stud of all studs and the guy to whom the club can hitch its wagon when everything is on the line.

That’s the type game Lincecum has been groomed to start, dominate and finish.

So, never again!If Lincecum’s not pushed well past a reasonable pitch count, the guy deserves to win or lose his own games. Period. Talk about the reasons that going to Wilson made sense…but, nobody is ever a better alternative to Lincecum with the game on the line.

The Giants can afford to fritter away a game like that.

It doesn’t matter if KNBR types are chuckling about how the Giants are going to lose heart-breakers in a long, sometimes painful, playoff run. There was no reason to lose to the Phillies on Wednesday. There have been other games they’ve lost that are no easier to swallow simply because they’ve won more than we expected.

Getting greedy has nothing to do with feeling panic after a loss that appeared for all the world to be a win.

Eugenio Velez has tools that few Giants possess.

He can run and flash power at the plate. If he can’t catch a routine fly ball like the one he dropped Wednesday, how many bases must he steal and home runs must he hit to help more than he hurts the club?

His speed can kill—and has killed the Giants a couple of times. There’s a reason that the New York Yankees haven’t signed Usain Bolt to pinch-run. It doesn’t matter how fast a guy runs if he doesn’t run based on situation and score.

Velez has run into boneheaded outs that breaks one of those baseball rules like, “Never make the first out of an inning at home plate.”

So, don’t buy the notion that fans are going to have to live or die with Velez in left field or running the bases like a runaway wind-up toy. John Bowker can catch every routine fly ball in left field. He can’t run like Velez, but he doesn’t run the bases like the Cub Scout who’s making his baseball debut at summer camp either. And, if it helps sell the idea, Bowker’s got longball power, too.

There was a point late last year when Fred Lewis botched a routine fly ball and some of us said, “He has to go! That’s it! He can undo eight wonderful innings from a starting pitcher with that glove of his.” On Wednesday, the Velez misplay that enabled the Phillies to plate the eventual game-inner became a he’s-gotta-go situation.

The Giants need Velez to run or hit off the bench?


Whatever he can do is lost in a sea of silly mistakes. Bowker has enough power to pop one out of the blue without ever missing a routine fly ball or just running blindly into an out.

(There’s a slightly better trade market for Velez than there was for Lewis. The Giants could get a minor leaguer in a trade—a minor leaguer who is actually identified. They dealt Lewis for a player to be named later.)

The Colorado Rockies are in town over the weekend for a big early NL West series. Given that the Giants have played better than expected overall, they should be 1 1/2 games ahead of the gifted Rockies.

The Rockets are going to get red-hot soon. They’ll blow past the Giants in the process if the locals can’t finish a sweep against a Phillies. And, the Dodgers won’t play .364 baseball all summer. So, some of us see reason to worry because the Giants have played well but are only 4 1/2 games up on a Dodgers team that’s struggling mightily.

The Dodgers and Rockies won’t get worse. The Giants might fall off precipitously, so they should do what they can to win while the other contenders are struggling.

There’s no panic involved. It’s common sense. Win while you’re playing pretty well, because there will be a long stretch where losses are well earned by ineffective hitting and weak defense.

Don’t argue against recalling Buster Posey from Fresno. Brad Penny said the Giants made his job easier by refusing to work the count and by swinging at first pitches. Posey works the count and he puts the ball in play. And, here’s betting he would’ve caught that fly ball that Velez missed…even if somebody had handed Posey an outfielder’s glove at the top of the inning, said, “Hey, do your best” and sent him to left field.

Posey’s a gamer. He knows how to win.

Recalling Posey’s not a panic move. It’s a savvy response to the weaknesses the club has shown. The Mets recalled their No. 1 prospect to play first base. Giants official Larry Baer said Posey’s recall is not at all based on his arbitration clock or money. So?

Aubrey Huff’s hitting .227. Don’t tell me that it’s too early to tweak the lineup.

If the No. 4 hitter’s struggling, it’s “panic” to suggest Bengie Molina hit fourth and Huff drops down to No. 6?

Finally, the club has shown the ability to really fight back. So, more Guillermo Mota and Dan Runzler to keep a deficit to a minimum would be in order, too. A two-run lead should stay at two, you know?

A club that gets giddy at the prospect of Andres Torres getting one or two hits probably has no business thinking about the playoffs. But, the Giants are different. If Torres gets a clutch hit or two with Lincecum, Barry Zito, Matt Cain or Jonathan Sanchez pitching well—it could win a game.

And, just because we figure this Giants team will be in contention and that every win needs to be locked away, rather than frittered away, doesn’t mean we’re in a panic.

We just realize that this could be a magical season.

Ted Sillanpaa is a San Francisco-Oakland Bay Area sports writer and columnist. Contact Ted at tsillanpaa1956@gmail.com.

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