The Giants reconnected with a familiar face Tuesday, signing relief pitcher Joe Nathan to a minor-league deal.
Nathan, 41, will report to Double-A Richmond for the Giants to gauge what they have in the former All-Star closer. The right-hander signed with the Chicago Cubs in May after recovering from his second career Tommy John surgery but made just three appearances before being designated for assignment earlier this month.
“You have to like what his resume has on it,” said Giants manager Bruce Bochy. “This guy is an experienced closer and those guys, they’re invaluable. It doesn’t matter where they pitch -- sixth, seventh, eighth inning -- because they’re accustomed to pitching with the game on the line.”
Nathan has 377 career saves, most coming as a member of the Twins from 2004-11. The Giants traded him to Minnesota following the 2003 season, along with Francisco Liriano and Boof Bonser, for catcher A.J. Pierzynski – one of the less successful trades in recent franchise history.
He has pitched just four times in the majors since 2014, though, and Bochy said Nathan will go to Richmond so the Giants can decide whether they think he can help the bullpen. The Giants’ bullpen had one of its rougher days Sunday, blowing a six-run lead against the Baltimore Orioles.
“That’s why we signed him now, so he could get some work in,” Bochy said. “We’ll see where we’re at here the first couple outings and go from there.”
The Giants drafted Nathan as an infielder in 1995 and he debuted for them in 1999 as a pitcher. He was 12-4 with a 2.96 ERA in relief the season before the Giants traded him. John Heyman of MLB Network was first to report Nathan’s new deal with the Giants.
* Injury updates -- Outfielder Mac Williamson was scratched from Monday’s game at Triple-A Sacramento with shoulder soreness. Williamson, who is rehabbing from a left shoulder strain, had been scheduled to play seven innings.
“His shoulder was a little sore, so they scratched him,” Bochy said. “I just checked and we still don’t know if he’s going to play today or not. He’s day to day.”
Reliever Josh Osich threw an inning at Triple-A and is next scheduled to pitch on back-to-back days Thursday and Friday. Reliever Cory Gearrin is slated to pitch an inning on Wednesday for the River Cats.
Catcher Buster Posey returns to the Giants’ lineup on Tuesday after missing two games with lower back tightness.
Lastly, Bochy said infielder Ramiro Pena was injured on a takeout slide playing for the River Cats. Bochy said Pena, who just returned from an ankle injury, hurt the same ankle.