By TED SILLANPAA
SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Giants will take 12 pitchers and veteran first baseman Aubrey Huff on the roster when the National League Division Series opens today against the Cincinnati Reds.
Pitching coach Dave Righetti seemed to indicate that Tim Lincecum will be in the bullpen during the NLDS. San Jose Mercury News columnist Tim Kawakami reported that Righetti said Lincecum would be a key in the series “and it might not be just for one game.” With Matt Cain starting today and Madison Bumgarner in Game 2, Lincecum couldn’t get two starting assignments in the series.
“And he goes, ‘Man, whatever it takes,’ “ Righetti told the Mercury News of Lincecum’s response to the idea of multiple appearances that would have to come out of the bullpen. “He’s looking to help out any way he can.”
Giants manager Bruce Bochy opted to keep the veteran Huff, who appeared in only 55 games and was primarily a pinch-hitter down the stretch after coming off the disabled list, over a host of players who had been used extensively as pinch-runners in September. Neither outfielder Justin Christian or Francisco Peguero made the NLDS roster.
Huff, who started a game at first base in the final week of the season, batted .192 in 52 games while battling leg injuries. The veteran has a .297 career batting average with three home runs and a .495 slugging percentage against the pitchers the Reds will carry into the NLDS.
Xavier Nady will be the only reserve outfielder on the Giants NLDS roster. Left-hand batting Gregor Blanco gets the start in Game 1 in left field. Second baseman Ryan Theriot, catcher Hector Sanchez and infielder Joaquin Arias round out the bench players chosen with an edge given to power over speed as the Giants prepare to play in the launching pad at Cincinnati’s Great American Ball Park.
While Game 3 and Game 4 starting pitchers remain a mystery, Barry Zito and Ryan Vogelsong are both on the roster. It was believed that Bochy would choose between righty relievers George Kontos and Guillermo Mota, but he opted to keep both pitchers. The club kept just 11 pitchers on the postseason rosters in 2010.
The bullpen includes Mota and Kontos with one of the starters, apparently Lincecum, joining Sergio Romo, Javier Lopez, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla and Jose Mijares.