SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants made a handful of roster moves before today's game, including purchasing the contract of Kensuke Tanaka from Triple-A Fresno. Tanaka is in the lineup tonight, playing left field.
Tanaka came over from Japan this spring, played around the infield in spring training and often did not look comfortable in the field or at the plate. But he was hitting .330 with 11 doubles and 20 stolen bases in Fresno, recently began playing games in left field, and now he represents the latest attempt to shake up the Giants' scuffling offense.
"He's been swinging the bat as well as anybody down there," manager Bruce Bochy said. "I know (Roberto Kelly) is working with him out in our left field today. But he's been swinging the bat as well as anybody, so why not him?"
The Giants designated Cole Gillespie for assignment to make room on the 25-man roster for Tanaka. The Giants also placed Hector Sanchez on the 15-day disabled list with a right shoulder strain and recalled Michael Kickham, who gives the bullpen a fresh arm after every available reliever last night combined to throw nine innings in the Giants' 16-inning, 4-3 loss.
Tanaka said he played left field several years ago in Japan and came to the United States ready to play anywhere, so he was comfortable with the move. Bochy said Tanaka will play exclusively left field with the Giants.
Francoeur, meanwhile, is expected to start tonight in left field for Triple-A Fresno, and Bochy said the plan is for Francoeur to "be there for a few games and then we'll hopefully have him helping out in our outfield situation." Francoeur had back-to-back 100-RBI seasons with the Braves in 2006-07, but was hitting just .208 in 59 games for the Kansas City Royals this season before they let him go. The Giants' hope is that a change of scenery will help, much like it did for Pat Burrell in 2010.
So what does this mean for Andres Torres, who was signed to be the right-handed half of the Giants' left-field platoon but has been pressed into more regular duty by the injury to Angel Pagan? Bochy said Torres is "still going to be in the mix," though the presence of Tanaka (a left-handed hitter) and later Francoeur (right-handed hitters) figure to affect his playing time at least a little.
"When you have a player like Torres, I think he's a better player when you're able to use him (in a platoon)," Bochy said. "This doesn't mean his time's going to be cut, you'll still see him playing against left-handers.
"We'll see how it goes with Tanaka out there. But right now we need a spark in this lineup. We're having a tough time getting runs on the board, and we're bringing up a guy who's been swinging the bat as well as anybody in Fresno."
So into the lineup Tanaka goes:
And the Mets' lineup against Zito:
* Buster Posey gets the night off after catching all 16 innings last night. Also having Brandon Belt in the No. 3 spot didn't last long, despite Bochy saying after the game last night he was probably going to give Belt another start there.
* On Sanchez, Bochy said it's the same shoulder that has bothered the catcher off and on since spring training, sometimes affecting his throwing from behind the plate.
"Occasionally it flares up on him, so he needs a few days off," Bochy said. "And we're a little short right now, and this'll help give him a break to get that shoulder to clear up and give us time to work on getting back to where it needs to be."
-- Matt Kawahara