Tim Hudson said he felt some pressure to strike out the designated “Beer Batter” during his rehab outing with High-A San Jose on Friday night.
“I didn’t strike him out,” Hudson said. “And they booed me.”
Then again, Hudson didn’t get the repeated chances that he normally would in a start. The veteran Giants right-hander began experiencing life as a reliever Friday, shortening his pregame routine and throwing 2 2/3 scoreless innings on 31 pitches, allowing one hit.
“I started my warmups a lot later and had a much shorter bullpen trying to get ready quicker,” said Hudson, who’s preparing for a likely bullpen role for the Giants when rosters expand in September. “I didn’t feel as rushed as I thought I might’ve felt. I felt ready to pitch.”
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Hudson said he started the game throwing out of his windup but later started to pitch exclusively out of the stretch. He said his body bounced back well from the outing and that his plan is to throw regular bullpen sessions until the Giants decide to have him face hitters again.
It’s something of a holding pattern, because the Giants don’t have an opening for Hudson right now and the pitching situation is about to get more crowded. Mike Leake is expected to return from the disabled list on Tuesday to start against the St. Louis Cardinals. Bruce Bochy said the Giants already are discussing the necessary roster move.
“We have some tough decisions,” the Giants’ manager said.
When Leake went on the DL, the Giants called up reliever Josh Osich. He’s the only current Giants reliever with options, apart from Hunter Strickland, whose bullpen role is secure. But in 12 appearances with the Giants this season, the left-handed Osich has given up one run with 11 strikeouts in 10 2/3 innings. On Friday night, he recorded four big outs in the Giants’ 8-5 win over the Washington Nationals.
Bochy said Osich is “without question” making the Giants’ decision more complicated by his performance.
“What he did (Friday) night, those are critical outs he got for us,” Bochy said. “He’s throwing the ball so well, so it’s going to make it a lot more difficult.”
Osich’s outing was part of the bullpen’s 4 1/3 scoreless innings in relief of Matt Cain, who couldn’t get out of the fifth. Bochy again was noncommittal Saturday about Cain’s spot in the rotation going forward, though he reiterated he believes Cain is “real close” to pitching like his old self.
Bochy said he told Cain it was “tough” to take him out Friday night with two outs in the fifth and a lead but that Cain understood.
“He said, ‘I apologize. We had a lead, and I let that get away,’” Bochy said. “He took responsibility.”
▪ Despite the relievers’ workload Friday night, Bochy said the Giants are covered in the bullpen for Saturday’s game. They also have Jake Peavy starting, who has completed at least six innings in all but one of his starts since coming off the DL in July. The Giants’ lineup for Saturday against Nationals left-hander Gio Gonzalez:
And the Nationals’ lineup against Peavy:
Bochy said he plans to have Buster Posey catch Madison Bumgarner on Sunday and he didn’t want to take Brandon Belt’s bat out of the lineup Saturday night – thus Posey at first and Belt in left.
▪ Catcher Andrew Susac caught nine innings and went 2 for 4 with a home run for San Jose on Friday night and is scheduled to play for the River Cats on Saturday night. Bochy said the Giants will check on Susac after the game, and he’ll likely play one or two more rehab games for the River Cats.
▪ Bochy said Nori Aoki (concussion) is “feeling better.” A short time later, Aoki took swings in the batting cage. So that’s a good sign for Aoki.
▪ After Hudson left his rehab outing Friday, 23-year-old prospect Chase Johnson pitched the final six innings for San Jose and struck out 14 batters. Johnson is a right-hander whom the Giants drafted in the third round out of Cal Poly in 2013.
“I was setting them up for him,” Hudson joked.