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September 25, 2013
Giants, Dodgers lineups: One more start for Barry Zito

SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy wanted to get Barry Zito one more start before the season -- and quite possibly Zito's tenure as a Giant -- ends this weekend. Zito gets that chance tonight against the Dodgers, taking the rotation spot of Madison Bumgarner, who has been shut down for the season.

Zito hasn't pitched since Sept. 2, his last start, in San Diego. Bochy, though, said Zito has maintained regular throwing and took a long bullpen session in New York, so he was prepared when told Tuesday he would be starting this evening.

"He didn't have a lot of notice," Bochy said. "But talking to him last night, he said, 'I'm ready to go. He's been throwing and he's excited about this start. And I'm excited to give him this start."

It's one more chance for Zito, who is 4-11 with a 5.91 ERA, to put a positive finish on an otherwise disappointing year. The Giants hold a club option on Zito for next season, and can elect to pay him a $7 million buyout, which would end Zito's time with the Giants after seven seasons.

Those seasons have been marked by notable peaks -- Game 5 of last year's NLCS, when Zito saved the Giants from elimination in St. Louis, and Game 1 of the World Series, as he out-dueled the Tigers' Justin Verlander -- and more valleys. He has a 62-80 record as a Giant and has always toiled under the weight of the $126 million contract he signed prior to the 2007 season.

The constant has been Zito's standing in the eyes of teammates, who laud the left-hander for his professionalism and the way he has dealt with the scrutiny -- and sometimes the vitriol -- of fans and others who felt Zito never lived up to his then-record contract.

"There's lots of stuff that he could've complained about, I'd say, and I've never heard him say a negative word about anything," Bumgarner said today. "He's a lot tougher than people realize.

"He's been around a long time, and he's a gentleman in the game, but he's a competitor. He truly is a good teammate, one of the best teammates I've had in my short career so far, and it definitely would be hard to top him."

Bochy has often repeated the story of how after finding out he was going to be left off the Giants' postseason roster in 2010, Zito immediately went out and threw a bullpen to keep himself ready in case he became needed. And he mentioned it again today.

"That's what I've always admired about Barry," Bochy said, "is he's had his ups and downs, but he's never run."

Here's the full Giants lineup tonight behind Zito:

CF Pagan
LF Blanco
1B Belt
C Posey
RF Pence
3B Sandoval
SS Crawford
2B Abreu
P Zito

And the Dodgers lineup that Zito will face:

RF Puig
LF Crawford
CF Kemp
1B Young
C Ellis
3B Hairston, Jr.
2B Schumaker
SS Punto
P Nolasco

* Bochy said Joaquin Arias, who has been away from the team for a family issue, had not returned as of about 4:30 p.m. Bochy wasn't sure when Arias will be getting in.

* Marco Scutaro, who was also shut down for the season Tuesday, said he'll have a pin put in his left pinkie finger to try to straighten out the "mallet finger" that resulted from his being hit by a pitch back in June.

The pin was an option for Scutaro immediately after the injury, but he elected to try to play through it instead. As a result of compensating for the pinkie, he said, he also has a bone bruise in his third finger, to go with the back issues that have hampered him since spring. Through it, Scutaro finished the year batting .297.

Scutaro said he didn't want to reflect on his personal year, but said, "It's not a secret that we didn't have a good year as a team. The expectations going into this year, after a great year last year, it didn't work out.

"There's another 28, 29 teams trying to get the same goal, you know, and it's just I think we got some injuries that affected some key players. We lost Pagan for 80 games, Vogey, Casilla for a little bit, Affeldt.

"But that's part of the game -- you work hard in the offseason to get your body in shape, but that doesn't guarantee you won't get hurt. But I think it's going to make us stronger for next year as a team."

Scutaro said the pin will remain in his hand for a month and a half, with the hopes it will straighten his pinkie finger out for good. In a normal year, he said he won't start swinging a bat until January anyway, so it won't interfere much with his offseason regimen.

As for his back, Scutaro said the plan is: "Just work."

"Do a lot of work, get my core stronger. It's going to help support my back and try to make it more consistent. There's going to be bad days and good days, but the main thing is keep it as consistent as we can."

* Last time the Giants faced Ricky Nolasco, on Sept. 14, they tagged him for seven runs on seven hits in 1 1/3 innings in their 19-3 win in Los Angeles. They've scored 22 runs in eight games since.

-- 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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