Chris Heston was the Giants’ steadiest starting pitcher outside of Madison Bumgarner for the first half of last season.
He was 11-5 with a 3.14 ERA in his 20 starts through July and no-hit the Mets on June 9 in New York, but in his final 11 starts he was 1-6 and his ERA shot up to 5.92.
According to manager Bruce Bochy, Heston lost 20 pounds during his rookie season and fatigue likely played a part in his second-half struggles. As he prepares for a likely long-relief role this season, Heston said he has regained the weight and has a plan for keeping it on this summer.
“Just eat,” Heston said. “It got to the point (last year) where I wasn’t eating much. We’ve got so much at our disposal here with our strength coaches and nutritionists, so working with them as close as possible and being really active about staying on top of it.”
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Heston said he came to camp last spring heavier than normal at 220 pounds, so he wasn’t surprised when his weight started to dip. He also said he didn’t feel like he wore down during the season.
“Physically no, I don’t feel like I did,” Heston said. “But my velocity was down and there were a lot of indications that that may have been the case. But I like where I’m at this year, I’m excited to keep that weight on and just stay strong throughout the year.”
We’ve got to cover ourselves and have somebody ready.
Bruce Bochy, Giants manager, about spring plans to have pitcher Chris Heston ready to start, if needed
While he was second among Giants starters last year in wins (12) and innings (177 2/3 ), Heston became the odd man out in the rotation when the Giants signed Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija during the offseason. Heston could start the season as the long man in the Giants’ bullpen, but Bochy said he’ll get stretched out to nearly a starter’s workload this spring given the uncertainty around Matt Cain, who is recovering from surgery to remove a cyst on his right arm.
“We’ve got to cover ourselves and have somebody ready,” Bochy said.
Last spring, Heston left Giants camp intending to open the season with the Triple-A River Cats, but he was recalled before the season began because of an injury to Cain. This year, he said, he’s preparing for anything.
“I know nothing’s given,” Heston said. “I’m out here battling and trying to open some eyes and make some decisions tough at the end of it.”
On the mend – Relievers Santiago Casilla and Sergio Romo both threw to hitters in batting practice before the Giants played the Colorado Rockies on Wednesday. Pitching coach Dave Righetti said both threw about 30 pitches and “looked good.” Casilla is recovering from the flu and could pitch in a game for the first time this weekend, Righetti said. The Giants are bringing Romo along slowly this spring, and Righetti said Romo likely will throw another live BP session before he appears in a game.
Cain played catch Wednesday and is scheduled to throw a side session of about 15-20 pitches Thursday, Righetti said.