Giants notes: Bruce Bochy pulls Matt Cain from rotation, tells Denard Span his future is in LF – The Mercury News

SAN FRANCISCO The Giants trudged onto the field for the team photo Thursday afternoon. Some of their personnel found a way to smile. Manager Bruce Bochy was among them.

But upon meeting with reporters, Bochys smile vanished. He heaved an audible sigh.

It stinks, letting guys go, Bochy said.

In addition to Conor Gillaspie, the hero of last Octobers NL Wild Card Game, Bochy had to deliver bad news to two other veterans. He said right-hander Matt Cain would be out of the rotation and would serve as a long reliever for the remainder of the season. And he acknowledged that his chat with Denard Span on Monday involved telling the career center fielder to brace for a move to left field.

The move with Span might not take place in earnest until spring training, Bochy said. The move with Cain is more immediate. Right-hander Chris Stratton will start in place of Cain on Saturday against the Arizona Diamondbacks and the plan calls for him to remain in the rotation for the rest of the season.

This is the tough thing about going through a year like this, Bochy said of managing a 41-68 club. It comes with the territory, (making) changes.

Bochy delivered some of the bad news after Wednesday nights loss to the As, telling Gillaspie that he would be designated for assignment. Gillaspie, 30, batted .163 in 44 games while battling back stiffness. His defense at third base had slipped as well. He couldnt throw out 38-year-old Chase Utley on a roller at Dodger Stadium on Saturday, which started a ninth-inning rally that ultimately cost the Giants a win.

But Gillaspie still has something to offer a contending club, and Bochy hoped he would catch on somewhere.

Gillaspie hit a pair of late-inning home runs in recent days, including one with two outs in the ninth on July 21 that forced extra innings against the Padres. It was the kind of late-inning magic he displayed so often in late September and in the postseason last year.

His unforgettable home run off the Mets Jeurys Familia broke a scoreless tie and backed Madison Bumgarners shutout to get the Giants through the Wild Card knockout game. Then he hit a triple off the Cubs Aroldis Chapman that won Game 3 of the NL Division Series. It was the first triple a left-handed hitter had ever hit off Chapman, and it came on a 100.9 mph fastball the swiftest pitch that Gillaspie had seen in his major league career.

Special stuff, in other words. And it happened in his second tour with the Giants, coming back with a much different mindset after failing to establish himself the first time around just as Travis Ishikawa did when he hit the home run that clinched the pennant in 2014.

But baseball games are won because of production, not memories. The reminder was just as brusque for Gillaspie as it was for Ishikawa in 2015.

Its always difficult, Bochy said. As you know, he did a lot for us last year, especially down the stretch. A club can pick him up. If not, I hope hes in Sacramento.

Ryder Jones is up from Sacramento, hitting second in Thursdays lineup against the As and Bochy expects to play him almost every day. The way is clear for Jones at third base after the club let Gillaspie go and optioned Jae-gyun Hwang back to the River Cats. But Bochy said Jones would get occasional starts in the outfield, too.

Jones, 23, hit .375 with three home runs in 11 games since the Giants activated him from the disabled list and returned him to Sacramento.

Hes swinging the bat better, Bochy said. Hes driving the ball. With where were at, this is a perfect time for him.

They have an opportunity in part because Christian Arroyo is out for likely the remainder of the season because of a fractured finger. Likewise, Stratton is getting a shot because top pitching prospect Tyler Beede is sidelined two months by a strained groin.

Hes a four-pitch guy, hes got some velo, low 90s, and when his command is sharp, he works up and down (the zone) pretty well, Bochy said of Stratton, who is 0-2 with a 7.71 ERA. Hes got a good slider and changeup. Hes got the equipment to be a 4 or 5 starter.

The Giants didnt promote left-hander Andrew Suarez because he has thrown 121 innings this season and he doesnt have to be added to the 40-man roster until after next season. Its not worth having him take up a space now when hell likely be shut down after throwing another 30-40 innings.

Perhaps the most significant future development involves Span, who couldnt make a play in the As two-run first inning Wednesday night and statistically ranks as the least effective center fielder in baseball.

Span is signed for one more season (with $13 million owed to him, including the buyout on an option for 2019), and if he is still here, Bochy left no doubt that his future would be in left field.

We had a discussion, Bochy said. Its hard to do during the season. More than likely, it happens next year. I cant tell you what will happen in the offseason. But we have talked about it.

Bochy said he is sensitive to the fact that the move from center field to an outfield corner is more difficult than one might presume, and he didnt want to throw Span into the fire. He mentioned that Angel Pagan needed an entire spring before he began to feel comfortable in left.

Bochy knows there is a pride factor as well. He has managed enough center fielders to know they often have a hard time seeing themselves as anything but a center fielder.

Jarrett Parker is back from his fractured collarbone, and played quite a bit of center field during his two rehab stints for Sacramento. But hes in left field Thursday as he makes his first start since the April 15 game in which he crashed into the wall while making a catch.

As for Hwang, he was 2 for 13 with a pair of singles in four starts upon being recalled and Bochy acknowledged the timing isnt there at the plate. Its been clear all along that the Giants werent counting on Hwang being a part of their long-term future.

Bochy said he anticipated that Hwang would return as a September call-up. But that doesnt mean Jones is free and clear at third base. The Giants have a certain Kung Fu Panda getting at-bats at Sacramento Pablo Sandoval set up his family in the Bay Area on his day off Wednesday and Bochy has said when the right time comes, itll happen.

One day after Daniel Gossett no-hit the Giants into the fifth inning in a 6-1 victory, the As sent him back to Triple-A. Its Kendall Graveman vs. Ty Blach as the Giants try to split this four-game home-and-home series with their interleague rivals.


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Giants notes: Bruce Bochy pulls Matt Cain from rotation, tells Denard Span his future is in LF – The Mercury News

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