San Francisco Giants

Jake Peavy likes the depth in the Giants’ starting rotation

San Francisco Giants' Jake Peavy works against the Texas Rangers in the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game Friday, March 13, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz.
San Francisco Giants' Jake Peavy works against the Texas Rangers in the first inning of a spring training exhibition baseball game Friday, March 13, 2015, in Scottsdale, Ariz. AP

-- Jake Peavy said he knows some people out there are questioning the state of the Giants’ rotation heading into 2015, with two starters -- Matt Cain and Tim Hudson -- returning from surgery and a third -- Tim Lincecum -- who pitched his way out of this same rotation last fall.

But Peavy, who’s expected to head up that rotation with Madison Bumgarner, said that he isn’t among those who see cause for concern.

"We’re excited about what we have here," Peavy said. "At the end of the day … there’s not a question mark with Ryan Vogelsong, there’s not a question mark with Yusmeiro Petit. We have five healthy guys, not coming off of anything, ready to go, five healthy guys we believe can do any job."

The watchword when it comes to the Giants’ starting pitching this spring has been depth. Peavy said he can’t remember being part of a pitching staff that had seven proven starters all at the major-league level -- something the Giants may have opening day if Lincecum makes the starting rotation and Vogelsong and Petit are both carried in the bullpen.

And as Peavy acknowledged Friday, that could play a big role in keeping fresh a rotation that owns a fine track record but a lot of mileage on its collective arms. Talking about Vogelsong and Petit, Peavy said he believes manager Bruce Bochy, pitching coach Dave Righetti and bullpen coach Mark Gardner "are going to use those guys."

"Say we get to the second half and we have some guys a little banged up or that need to miss a start or two," Peavy said. "To be able to throw Ryan Vogelsong -- ‘Hey, Vogey’s going to make that start, or Petey’s going to make that start’ -- to give you an extra day, not have to go on the DL and you’re really not pitching a man short because you still have another long guy, there’s tons of options.

"I know the five guys we end up going out there with, my mindset, everybody else’s mindset, will be to carry the load on that day. That being said, we understand we have some guys coming off surgery, some guys with some innings on their arms in the past few years, and I think that could play a major part in keeping us fresh for trying to get down the stretch and trying to make another run."

Starting depth was a need for the Giants last season, when they pulled Petit out of long relief for 12 starts and traded for Peavy at midseason after losing Cain to elbow surgery. Cain has looked sharp in his early spring starts while Tim Hudson, returning from ankle surgery, started camp a little behind the others but is on track to be ready by opening day. Still, their recent history, the career workloads of all five starters and normal wear and tear may well necessitate a skipped start at some point during the season.

Peavy threw out the example of a late-summer game at Dodger Stadium, where if needed the Giants could call on a veteran, experienced arm for a spot-start rather than a possibly nervous Triple-A call-up. Vogelsong made 32 starts for the Giants last season and Petit, when not starting, posted a 1.84 ERA out of the bullpen. Having two such options in the bullpen, Peavy pointed out, would also erase the need for a roster move and getting the spot-starter to the stadium in time if the game is on the road.

Of course, those are hypothetical situations and the second half is a long way away. But Peavy said he’s already intrigued by trying to "sit around and think about how it could work." Peavy threw 216 2/3 innings last year between the regular season and postseason, while Bumgarner logged 270. Lincecum did not crack the playoff rotation last fall and is currently battling neck tightness.

"To have as much grease on the depth chart as we have," Peavy said, "it’s comforting to know."

Bochy said he hasn’t talked with the potential bullpen guys about their roles yet, and that right now the Giants’ prerogative is to get all seven pitchers stretched out to start. But he added:

"They know we have a couple starters that can help out. And if they need a break, or something’s nagging on them or a cranky arm, we’ll give them a break."

* Peavy threw four innings in his start against the Texas Rangers on Friday and allowed three runs, all on one swing by Rangers third baseman Joey Gallo in the third. Peavy left a cutter over the middle of the plate, and Gallo hit it to the patio seating, over the bullpen, in right-center field.

"That ball’s still going somewhere," Bochy said.

"Couldn’t have walked up there and put it in a better place," Peavy said. "He did what those big guys do."

Peavy, though, pointed out that in the fourth inning he executed one of those back-door cutters and got left-handed-hitting Jared Hoying to ground out to Brandon Crawford at shortstop. Overall, Peavy said he made some in-game adjustments and was happy to get stretched out a little in his third spring start.

"Positive day," he said. "A step forward."

* It was a good day for Giants pitching. Bochy also singled out reliever Ty Blach, who rebounded from a couple of shaky outings to throw three scoreless innings. "Really kept the ball down well today," Bochy said. "He had good arm speed, good downward angle, and so a good day for him."

The Giants’ bats, obviously, were quiet. Brandon Belt legged out a triple into the gap in left-center but was then thrown out trying to score on a wild pitch. Bochy said it’s early still to be worried about the lack of offense from some regulars. He pointed out that Belt and Casey McGehee -- who went 1-for-2 and is hitting .471 this spring -- both look good at the plate, and Nori Aoki collected a single Friday.

The hit could be good for Aoki. Bochy said the coaches told him Aoki spent two hours in the cage after a game the other day. Bochy checked with Aoki’s interpreter, Kosuke Inaji, to make sure Aoki isn’t pressing this early in camp.

* Lincecum said his stiff neck, which caused him to come out of Wednesday’s game after one inning, was "better today. Just got to play it by ear, see if it loosens up tomorrow." If so, Lincecum said he will try to throw a bullpen session Saturday.

Sergio Romo, meanwhile, threw live batting practice Friday and will likely see his first game action soon. "He’s ready," Bochy said. "He’ll take a day or two and we’ll get him in these games … He was the Serge we know, so that’s encouraging."

Also on the recovery front, infielder Joaquin Arias (sore arm) will play shortstop in one of the Giants’ split-squad games Saturday.

Call The Bee’s Matt Kawahara, (916) 321-1015. See his baseball coverage at sacbee.com/mlb. Follow him on Twitter at @matthewkawahara.

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