SAN FRANCISCO – His Triple-A season over and the Arizona Fall League still a little ways away, Mac Williamson was visiting a cousin in North Carolina and out on the water fishing Tuesday when he got a text from Giants general manager Bobby Evans.
“He wasn’t just fishing,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “He was 55 miles off shore.”
The 55 miles back must have passed like a breeze. Evans told Williamson, the outfielder and Giants’ third-round pick in 2012, that he was getting called up to the bigs. The Giants on Wednesday purchased the contracts of both Williamson and catcher Trevor Brown to give them more depth down the stretch, adding to a bench whose thinness was exposed in Tuesday night’s 9-8 loss to the Reds.
Bochy had to use two pitchers – Madison Bumgarner and Mike Leake – as pinch-hitters in Tuesday’s 10-inning loss. Williamson and Brown will give the Giants more options on the bench, and Bochy said he could try to give both players a start or two. To make room on the 40-man roster, the Giants transferred second baseman Joe Panik to the 60-day disabled list and designated outfielder Daniel Carbonnel for assignment.
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On Panik: Bochy said the more recent tests Panik underwent on his troublesome back showed nothing more than the previously diagnosed inflammation. Going on the DL makes official what was already clear – that Panik’s season is over. Bochy said the fact that Panik had such a long break before trying to return in early September, then had his back flare up again after only four games, indicated that Panik needs a longer time to let the back rest and recover.
“It’s just not worth the risk trying to get him back and have possibly another setback,” Bochy said. “So we’re just being cautious with a guy we think a lot of.”
This also gives the Giants a chance to get their first look at both Williamson and Brown. Williamson, 25, missed all of last season recovering from Tommy John surgery. He split this season between Double A and Triple A, batting .275 with 13 home runs and 73 RBIs overall.
Williamson said he wasn’t expecting to get called up after the Triple-A season ended and was preparing to play in the Fall League. After sitting out last season, he said he worked hard this year on getting his swing ready for the big-league level with Sacramento hitting coach Andy Skeels, and also talked often about the mental side of hitting with Matt Duffy – the two played together in the lower levels and are good friends.
Williamson said the last 24 hours had “happened so fast I haven’t had a chance to let it soak in. It’s a dream come true. I was out all last year, so that definitely wasn’t fun, but it’s extra motivation to get back. And I stayed healthy all year, which was my biggest goal – just let the play do the speaking.”
Brown was a 10th-round pick out of UCLA in 2012. He batted .261 with two homers and 27 RBIs in 82 games for the River Cats this season, and played exclusively catcher after starting in the Giants’ system as an infielder. Bochy said Brown has “done a nice job behind the plate,” and that he’s glad to have a third catcher. When Brandon Belt tweaked his neck diving back into second base Tuesday night, Bochy was ready to move Buster Posey to first base and have Jackson Williams – then the Giants’ only healthy backup catcher – behind the plate.
“Good for these guys,” Bochy said. “(September) call-ups, I like the rule, and it allows the guys to get a taste of what it’s like up here and gives them a better idea what it takes to play up here. It’s a great learning experience.”
It was also, apparently, the best part of Williamson’s fishing outing. Despite being 55 miles offshore, Bochy said, the outfielder didn’t catch a fish before he received Evans’ text.
“That’s a long ways to go,” Bochy said. “I can take you 10 feet offshore and I’ll get you something.”
▪ Shortstop Brandon Crawford (calf, oblique) is not in Wednesday’s lineup, but Bochy had indicated the Giants probably would hold off starting Crawford until after Thursday’s off-day.
▪ Following up on the most memorable moment of Tuesday’s four-hour game, Bumgarner’s pinch-hit appearance against Aroldis Chapman: It was Bumgarner’s third pinch-hit appearance this season, and two have come against Chapman and hard-throwing Cardinals closer Trevor Rosenthal.
“I haven’t made it easy for him,” Bochy said, grinning.
Bochy, though, said he doesn’t mind pinch-hitting with Bumgarner because he knows that Bumgarner “gets his swings in.” It’s also not like he has to convince Bumgarner to pick up a bat. Tuesday night, Bochy said, the pitcher was standing by him (and the bat rack) as early as the fifth inning, ready to hit if necessary.
Bochy said he would have sent Bumgarner up to hit in the fifth inning if the Reds had brought in a left-hander instead of right-hander Ryan Mattheus.
“(Bumgarner) said, ‘I can hit righties, too, you know,’ ” Bochy said. “Thankfully, (Jarrett) Parker hit a home run. So that quieted things down.”
That also allowed for the Bumgarner-Chapman showdown, in which Bumgarner walked on seven pitches, fouling off one fastball at 99 mph and taking another for a ball at 102.
“Yeah, that was fun,” pitcher Tim Hudson said. “He probably had the best at-bat against (Chapman) all night. That guy, he’s like a storybook … I was truly expecting him to hit a home run, honestly. He’s got the somewhat Midas touch, I guess.”
▪ The Giants’ lineup for Wednesday’s series finale against the Reds:
LF De Aza
And the Reds’ lineup against Jake Peavy: