SAN DIEGO -- It was a marvelous and familiar feeling for Wayne Franklin. He felt that rush, that surge of adrenaline. And he loved it.
Franklin uncorked one throw against the Houston Astros on Wednesday at Minute Maid Park to only one batter, with Jeff Kent popping out to second baseman Ray Durham, but for the new Giants hurler, it was heaven.
"It was only one pitch but I had forgotten that adrenaline rush out there," said the 30-year-old Franklin, San Francisco's long reliever at the moment but the probable fifth starter as well. "It was fun. There's no time to think and sometimes that's a good thing. A former pitching coach told me to keep it simple, stupid, and you can't keep it simpler than ignorance, not knowing when you're going in."
Wayne Franklin / P
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L
Franklin started 34 games for Milwaukee last year and squeezed in two relief appearances, but while he's used to the more methodical, keep-under-control rotation mode, there's nothing like those tummy tingles when the game gets longer and more tense, then the adrenal glands start pumping like tiny oil wells.
"I was talking to somebody and told them I've done it all as a pitcher in the big leagues, even closing one game with the Astros back in 2000," said Franklin. "When you're a closer, soon as you get that lead, you start to get ready in the sixth and get going in a hurry."
Manager Felipe Alou said he didn't want to insert Franklin into that eighth-inning spot, due to an already beleaguered bullpen, but it paid off. The left-hander pitcher might get the call to start next Wednesday's Giants contest vs. Milwaukee at SBC Park -- "We'll see," said the skipper -- and Franklin is geared for the occasion.
As always. Franklin admits he can't wait to pitch.
"I think it's the reliever coming out of me," he said. "I want to pitch as soon as I get to the ballpark. I even pitched on my day off in Spring Training. It was my turn in the rotation and I wanted to pitch. It was more fun than coming to the ballpark and running a few miles and lifting weights."
If Franklin starts next week, great. If in another capacity? Terrific.
"Just give me the ball," says Franklin.
Hammonds almost ready: Outfielder Jeffrey Hammonds, out since March 9 when his right thumb was fractured by a pitch, is optimistic he'll return to action Saturday when he's eligible to come off the disabled list.
Jeffrey Hammonds / CF
Weight: 205 lbs
Bats: R / Throws: R
"Yeah, I heard I might be back then," said the veteran, who took off the wrap on his thumb, revealing a somewhat tortured digit, dark splotches of blood under the nail he may still lose. "If it happens, I'll be ready."
Hammonds has done well on offense, hitting in minor league games, but gripping the ball became a problem, as it stretched the ligaments and caused pain.
"I've only played catch, but that's the controlled situation," said Hammonds. "I'm ready to play in a game. Let's get it on."
Estrella not worried: Although he's given up eight hits and four runs in only 1 1/3 innings of relief over two games, bullpenner Leo Estrella says it's only a matter of time before he's back to his old self.
"I do feel fine, no problems," said Estrella, acquired from Milwaukee. "It happens. I got enough work in the spring and my arm feels good. Yesterday's game I put a pitch right there for [Orlando] Palmeiro, and he hit it. The next guy got jammed but still hit it. There's nothing you can do about it. I'm not worried because it's going to turn around."
Estrella said he had trouble in his first three games last season, then settled down.
This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.