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04/28/09 3:13 AM ET
Velez could make speedy return to Giants
Depleted bullpen gets boost with addition of Matos
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Eugenio Velez's departure Monday from AT&T Park likely will be short-lived. Manager Bruce Bochy indicated after the Giants' 5-4 victory over the Los Angeles Dodgers that Velez, optioned to Triple-A Fresno earlier in the day, will be needed to replace outfielder Andres Torres, who appears bound for the 15-day disabled list after injuring a hamstring muscle in the seventh inning. Torres pulled up lame as he rounded first base after flying out to deep right field to end the seventh. Bochy said that Torres will be sidelined for at least a week, but even if he were guaranteed to heal quickly, the club almost surely would choose to place him on the disabled list instead of operating with a 24-man roster. That should prompt the return of Velez, who was demoted to clear roster room as right-hander Osiris Matos was recalled from Fresno to furnish the bullpen with a fresh arm. Bochy confirmed that due to Torres' injury, Velez's demotion technically could be negated. The Giants' recent preponderance of close games has forced them to use their bullpen actively. Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt appeared in the previous five games, right-hander Bob Howry worked in four of five and right-hander Brandon Medders pitched 2 1/3 innings Sunday. Following through on his pregame hopes of avoiding Affeldt or Medders on Monday, Bochy instead turned to right-hander Merkin Valdez, who hadn't pitched since April 16. Matos, 24, has been on the fringes of establishing himself with the Giants since last year, when he broke into the Majors by posting a 1-2 record with a 4.79 ERA in 20 appearances. He pitched respectably this year in Spring Training, recording a 4.22 ERA but walking only one batter in 10 2/3 innings while opponents hit .225 off him. With Fresno, Matos had a 1.04 ERA in eight games. Most importantly, said Bochy, he's capable of pitching two innings if necessary. The Giants considered Velez expendable, since he appeared in nine of the Giants' first 17 games and started just once. Moreover, the presence on the roster of Velez and Torres, both speedy, switch-hitting reserves, was widely viewed as redundant. Thus, one of them appeared destined for demotion when the need for a pitcher arose. Since the .154-hitting Velez had a Minor League option remaining, this left him more vulnerable. Until Torres injured himself.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.