SAN FRANCISCO -- Small sample size alert: The Giants' starting rotation, in 16 games this season, currently owns a 5.07 ERA that is the highest in the National League (though that's still a full run lower than the ERA of the Los Angeles Angels' rotation -- ouch). If you factor out Madison Bumgarner's three starts, in which Bumgarner has allowed four earned runs in 20 1/3 innings, that number jumps to 5.99.
Manager Bruce Bochy was asked about this before tonight's game against the Padres and, predictably, said it's much too early to start worrying about the rotation (Barry Zito has the second-lowest ERA at 4.86 in his three starts; the three right-handers are all at 5.63 or above, with Matt Cain's 7.15 rounding it out).
"I think too much is made of a lot of things at this stage," Bochy said. "And you know you're going to have guys with slow starts, whether it's a player or a pitcher.
"Once you get into May, maybe early June, if you have concerns then, that's when you should have them."
Factoring into Bochy's calm is that he isn't sending out a rotation of rookie or sophomore starters. All have track records that include stretches where they haven't pitched well -- including Bumgarner, the 23-year-old, late last year -- so Bochy doesn't anticipate panic.
"They've been through it, all of them," Bochy said. "They've had to deal with adversity in their moments and they can handle it."
* The slow starts haven't been confined to the rotation. Reigning MVP Buster Posey went 2-for-18 on the Giants' recent road trip and is still trying to settle in at the plate, batting .213 while looking for his first home run. Bochy said it's much the same story with Posey as the starters.
"I really thought his at-bats were pretty good in Milwaukee and he hit some balls decent there that didn't fall in," Bochy said. "I know what the expectations are with winning the MVP and of course what he's done, we all have the same feeling as the fans do, but hey, these guys are going to have their moments."
Posey said that when he's getting a pitch he likes right now he's "probably not squaring it up at the rate that I would like.
"But I have been feeling better at the plate the past couple of games, and that's the name of the game is waiting to get that mistake pitch and fight the tough ones off.
"It's the tough thing about hitting. Even if you get yourself into that good count to hit, you've got to make sure you get the barrel on it."
* Posey is scheduled to catch Tim Lincecum tomorrow night for the first time this year. Posey and Bochy said before the game this is not a big deal. Asked why he's pairing the two tomorrow night specifically, Bochy answered: "There's no reason why he wouldn't catch him."
Posey should be fresh after having yesterday off, so he'll catch tonight and tomorrow night before Bochy makes a decision on whether to rest him or have him play first in Sunday's day game.
* A bit of sad news: The Giants and Willie Mays announced this afternoon that Willie's wife of 41 years, Mae Louise Allen Mays, died in her sleep this morning at home after a 16-year battle with Alzheimer's disease at the age of 74.
According to a team news release, Mae earned a degree in sociology from the University of Pittsburgh and a master's degree in social work from Howard University before going into work in child welfare. She and Mays were married in November 1971.
The two met in New York, the release states, and when Willie later called her for a date she thought it was a joke. Her response to the caller's claim to be Mays: "Yes, and I am Martha Washington."
-- Matt Kawahara