Bay Area Baseball

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July 5, 2013
Giants pre-game: Gillespie called up, starting in LF; Perez out

SAN FRANCISCO -- Cole Gillespie, who last played in the majors in 2011 with the Diamondbacks, is here and starting in left field tonight against the Dodgers after the Giants purchased his contract from Triple-A Fresno today. Juan Perez was optioned back to Triple-A, and the Giants transferred Angel Pagan to the 60-day disabled list to clear a spot for Gillespie on the 40-man roster.

Manager Bruce Bochy stated pretty clearly the move is an attempt to shoot some life into the Giants' offense. The Giants' 1-8 road trip ended with them totaling seven hits in their last three games, just the second time they've had so few hits in a three-game span in the San Francisco era (April 18-21, 1978 was the other). Gillespie was hitting .277 with nine homers and 11 doubles in 74 games in Fresno.

"He's got some experience up here and he's got pop in his bat, so we'll see if he can provide some offense here," Bochy said. "We'll be seeing some lefties and that's why we brought him up."

Bochy said there's no set plan for how the Giants will use Gillespie. But with Gregor Blanco one of the many Giants in a funk at the plate -- Blanco is 0 for his last 22 -- it's likely you'll see Andres Torres in center and Gillespie in left against left-handers for the time being. Gillespie is hitting .303 against lefties in Triple-A.

Gillespie said the call-up took him by surprise. He got the news after the Grizzlies' game last night and drove up earlier today, to find himself thrown right into the middle of the Giants-Dodgers rivalry with Los Angeles throwing left-hander Hyun-Jin Ryu.

"Couldn't ask for a better situation," he said. "I was leaving last night and (Brett Pill) said, you know, you might be in there tomorrow night -- they've got a lefty going. I was like, I like that."

Gillespie said he had watched a little bit of Ryu on film and planned to see more after batting practice. Defensively, Gillespie has spent the majority of his time in left field this season, and has some familiarity with the outfield at AT&T Park, having played here with Arizona.

"Playing right field the first time gave me a little bit of a headache with the walls and the wind," he said. "Hopefully left field's a little more comfortable."

Perez made a quick impression after being called up to replace Angel Pagan, recording five outfield assists in his first two weeks in the big leagues, but had fallen off at the plate and was 2-for-23 in his last nine games.

"I thought I was pitched the same. I was just too anxious I guess," Perez said. "I was getting a lot of good pitches to hit, rolling over a lot of good pitches, swinging at bad pitches."

Perez will have the chance to play every day in Triple-A and said that will likely help him hone his timing -- something that proved difficult playing sporadically as the Giants' fourth outfielder. He described the experience of his first big-league stint as "amazing."

"You don't want to go down, but you've got to face reality," he said. "We're struggling as a team here, so they make a decision, try to make some moves. Hopefully Gillespie can be a guy that can change things, get the team going. I'll be pulling for them."

Here's the full Giants' lineup against the Dodgers and Ryu tonight:

CF Torres
2B Scutaro
3B Sandoval
C Posey
RF Pence
1B Belt
LF Gillespie
SS Crawford
P Cain

And the Dodgers lineup that will face Cain:

2B M. Ellis
RF Puig
1B Gonzalez
SS Ramirez
LF Ethier
CF Kemp
C A.J. Ellis
3B Uribe
P Ryu

* Bochy said there's a good chance reliever Santiago Casilla, who made his third rehab appearance with Single-A San Jose yesterday, will rejoin the Giants on this homestand. Casilla was in the clubhouse this afternoon and said his knee feels "great" and he's just working now on regaining feel for his pitches after a long layoff. Casilla went on the DL on May 21 before having surgery to remove a bone cyst near his knee.

"Right now I feel like the start of spring training," he said.

The Giants want Casilla to throw in back-to-back games before they activate him. Bochy said he hasn't locked down those dates yet, but it should be "soon." Casilla said he might do so as early as Sunday and Monday.

* One reason Bochy didn't have the dates for Casilla handy -- amid the flight back from Cincinnati and preparing for the Dodgers, he has also had to spend time in the last 24 hours finalizing the National League's All-Star team roster, which is due to the league tomorrow. Bochy said he's "pretty close" to having the roster set.

"There's always very difficult decisions," Bochy said. "Hopefully we do a good job. We've certainly put our time in on it."

Among the most talked-about decisions is whether that roster will include Dodgers phenomenon Yasiel Puig, who enters this series batting .430 with eight home runs in 29 games since making his major-league debut on June 3. Bochy wasn't tipping his hand before the game, but acknowledged that Puig has made a strong case and that Bochy hasn't been deaf to those who believe Puig should be in New York despite having barely a month of big-league time under his belt.

"He's done a great job, and believe me, that has not gone unnoticed," Bochy said. "Very exciting player, and there's been a lot of talk about him, a lot of interest from different people to have him there. I understand that. I've got to do what I think is right, and tomorrow you'll know that."

* Chad Gaudin is on track to start Sunday against Clayton Kershaw.

* A final note from a newsy pre-game: Bochy said the Giants' recent struggles, including their first 1-8 road trip since Sept. 2006, have been "probably as tough a streak as I've been through here." The Giants have lost 14 of 18, are 2-for-30 in their last seven games with runners in scoring position and hit .185 as a team on the trip.

"We just had a lot of guys hit a skid there at the same time, and that's what makes it so difficult," Bochy said. "You can deal with one or two, but when you do it as a group that makes it so difficult. ... I think we started pressing and each guy's probably trying to do a little too much to make up the difference."

It's up to the Giants now to put the trip behind them. Starting tonight, the Giants play 15 of their next 21 games at home. They take the field tonight behind Cain, who has the third-lowest ERA in baseball since June 2 (1.82 in five starts). They can count on the energy and atmosphere of a series against the Dodgers. And as has been said repeatedly over the past few weeks, the division is so muddled that only 4 ½ games separates last place (the Giants and Padres) from first (Arizona).

"We are in this thing," Bochy said. "We have to keep reminding ourselves that."

-- Matt Kawahara

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About Bay Area Baseball

Matt KawaharaMatt Kawahara was born in Sacramento and attended McClatchy High School and UC Berkeley, where he wrote for the independent student paper The Daily Californian. He graduated from Cal in 2010 and started at The Sacramento Bee as a summer intern. He joined The Bee’s sports staff in fall 2011.
Phone: (916) 321-1015.
On Twitter: @matthewkawahara.

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