Notes: Bullpen mix still murky
Competition unresolved as relievers struggle
PEORIA, Ariz. -- The Giants' 9-8 exhibition victory over the Seattle Mariners on Tuesday cast the pursuit of bullpen jobs -- which more closely resembles a war of attrition than a competition -- into further disarray.Brian Wilson, who still could secure a late-inning setup role after beginning the spring as a potential closer, was charged with all five of Seattle's ninth-inning runs. After loading the bases with one out on a pair of walks and Adam Jones' single, Wilson yielded Jeremy Reed's RBI single and Gookie Dawkins' two-run single. Left-hander Ryan Meaux, who was sent to Minor League camp weeks ago and was on hand to provide depth for the afternoon, walked Mike Saunders to reload the bases. Scott Munter relieved Meaux and struck out Mike Morse, but Rene Rivera rolled a two-run single up the middle. Munter grazed Willie Bloomquist to load the bases again. Up came Jones, who lined a 1-1 pitch directly at Minor League third baseman Mike Minicozzi to end the game. Right-hander Vinnie Chulk helped himself by pitching a scoreless seventh inning. Left-hander Jack Taschner's outing was mixed, since he allowed an eighth-inning run but struck out two Mariners. It bears repeating -- except for Armando Benitez, none of the relievers have performed well enough to show they deserve a role. The Giants can only hope that a pitcher or two or three will display consistency over the final five exhibitions. "Right now, it's hard to say who's going to break camp," bench coach and acting manager Ron Wotus said. "They're all in competition." Masterly Morris: By any standard, Matt Morris' six-inning effort against Seattle was one of the best outings by a Giants starter this spring. Carving up home plate, Morris reached only one three-ball count and threw 19 first-pitch strikes. Of the right-hander's 72 pitches, 54 were strikes. "Moving the ball in and out, throwing any pitch on any count -- it was a good day today," Morris said after surrendering two runs and seven hits.
See ya, Barry: Barry Bonds' next appearance at a ballgame will be Thursday night at AT&T Park, where the Giants will face a Mariners split-squad.Bonds, shortstop Omar Vizquel and second baseman Ray Durham were among a handful of veterans who received permission to leave Arizona after Tuesday's game, one day before the bulk of the team, since they were scheduled to receive Wednesday off anyway. Filling the designated-hitter role, Bonds went 1-for-2 with a third-inning leadoff double. He's batting .297 (11-for-37) with five home runs and 10 RBIs. This was an unusually active spring for Bonds, who's approaching the start of his 22nd Major League season. He traveled twice to Surprise, Ariz., about 35 miles from the Giants' Scottsdale base, and went to Peoria twice. Aurilia mending: Emphasizing that it's "not set in stone," infielder Rich Aurilia said that he hopes to resume playing on Thursday. Aurilia, the Giants' primary first baseman, has begun taking batting practice and fielding ground balls to test his strained groin. He said that although the cooler Bay Area weather wouldn't harm him, he'll be wary of wet grounds that could cause him to slip and aggravate his injury. Looking ahead: Pitching matchups for the season-opening series against San Diego are set, with the Padres having announced their starting rotation. Barry Zito will oppose San Diego's Jake Peavy in the opener at AT&T Park next Tuesday. Peavy defeated the Giants in last year's season opener at San Diego, allowing one run and four hits in seven innings to best Jason Schmidt, 6-1. A Matt Cain-Chris Young confrontation will follow on Wednesday night. Morris will oppose San Diego's Clay Hensley in Thursday night's series finale. The Giants won't face Greg Maddux, who owns a 26-14 career record against them, including 2-0 last season. San Diego is saving Maddux for its home opener on Friday against Colorado. Coming up: The Giants end the Cactus League portion of their exhibition schedule on Wednesday with a contest in Scottsdale against the Brewers. It'll give the Giants one final chance to pad their impressive home attendance figures. Entering Tuesday, they led the Major Leagues with a 10,779 per-game average. Left-hander Noah Lowry will start for the Giants against Milwaukee right-hander Ben Sheets.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.