MLB: No shortage of starting pitching candidates for Giants
By Andrew Baggarly
San Jose Mercury News
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — San Francisco Giants right-hander Joe Martinez earned big league wages on the disabled list last year, so he bypassed his usual winter gig as a substitute teacher.
The kids at Columbia High School in Maplewood, N.J., had to find another target for their spitballs.
“It’s not like I did it just because I loved it,” Martinez said. “I had to pay the bills, too.”
Martinez might do some subbing this summer, though. So could Kevin Pucetas. And if Rule 5 draftee Steve Johnson sticks with the club, he could be handed some lesson plans, too.
The Giants might have the best rotation in the National League, but every club has injuries, illnesses and dreaded doubleheaders. They’ll always need a few innings eaters, and they’ve got plenty of young and hungry pitchers in camp.
While Giants manager Bruce Bochy officially lists Martinez, Pucetas and Johnson as candidates for the No. 5 spot in the rotation, the hope is that Madison Bumgarner nails down that job. If the 20-year-old rookie isn’t ready, non-roster right-hander Todd Wellemeyer looms as an experienced alternative.
Still, anything can happen. At this time last year, who’d have guessed Martinez would have made the club as a long reliever, let alone become the winning pitcher on opening day?
Two days after Martinez’s winning debut against the Milwaukee Brewers, his fortunes changed abruptly when a line drive fractured his skull. He made an inspirational return in September, then threw some more in the Arizona Fall League.
“I should be fresh,” the well-spoken Boston College alumnus said. “Just not for the reason I’d like to be.”
Giants general manager Brian Sabean isn’t sure whether Martinez will be more viable as a starter or long reliever, pointing out his numbers against left-handers (.429 average in 62 at-bats) were not adequate.
“How he’d pitch against a lineup with a lot of left-handed hitting, how he’d go around the order a few times,” Sabean said. “That’s what we’d like to see.”
Martinez, 27, is expected to make his spring debut today, throwing multiple innings behind Jonathan Sanchez in a split-squad game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Scottsdale. Pucetas, 25, will start today’s other split-squad game against the Brewers at Maryvale.
Pucetas hopes for a more stable showing than last spring, when he looked intimidated as a first-time invitee, posted an 8.04 ERA in six games (four starts).