04/04/11 1:27 PM ET
Wilson, Ross returns will mean tough choices
Giants must soon make room on roster for regulars on mend
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
San Francisco faces upcoming personnel decisions that could influence the club's performance for the rest of the season.
Two of the moves are obvious and, by themselves, not dramatic. Closer Brian Wilson, who's overcoming the strained oblique muscle in his left side, hopes to be activated from the 15-day disabled list as early as this week. Outfielder Cody Ross is expected to need about two more weeks of recovery from a strained right calf.
But the corresponding transactions -- determining who will be pared from the active roster to clear room for Wilson and Ross -- are less simple.
Moreover, though the Giants' four-game total constitutes a low sample size, two of their most productive hitters entering Monday's off-day are Aaron Rowand and Mark DeRosa. Can they force manager Bruce Bochy into receiving more playing time?
When Wilson returns, it's easy to assume that left-hander Dan Runzler will be sent to Triple-A Fresno. Not only does Runzler have a Minor League option remaining, but he also delivered the type of performance in Sunday's 7-5 defeat at Los Angeles -- one-third of an inning, four runs -- that tends to prompt a demotion.
But the Giants could decide to continue developing Runzler at the Major League level. If he stays, the most vulnerable pitcher could be Guillermo Mota, who made last year's postseason rosters. But Mota is unscored upon in two outings and has done nothing to warrant getting released, except being born 38 years ago.
"They're always difficult," Bochy said of the decision that will accompany Wilson's return. "They're never easy ones. But we have to make a spot for Willie. We knew this was coming up."
Ross' situation promises to be truly complex. No obvious choice has emerged for demotion or release, unless somebody clearly plays his way out of a job by the time Ross is healthy. Options include:
Dropping Nate Schierholtz, who comes off the bench virtually every day in some capacity.
Sending Brandon Belt to Triple-A. It's somewhat surprising to realize that Belt's hitting just .154 (2-for-13), because he has contributed daily in some fashion. He recorded his first Major League hit in the season opener, hit a three-run homer in Game 2 on Friday, collected the Giants' only stolen base of the season in Game 3 and drew a bases-loaded walk in Sunday's finale.
Releasing or trading a veteran. Pat Burrell's hitting .143 (2-for-14), but both hits were home runs. Rowand, the subject of trade speculation -- most of it hot, empty air -- during Spring Training, is playing like somebody who wants to be on the field more often, whether it's with San Francisco or elsewhere. Again, the sample size is tiny, but Rowand's hitting .500 (3-for-6) with a home run.
Asked whether Rowand could earn more playing time, Bochy said, "Sure, that's what you hope for from all these players, that they force the issue."
Unlike Rowand, DeRosa's name hasn't swirled in trade rumors. Like Rowand, he can be expected to push for more activity. DeRosa went 2-for-5 with two RBIs in his lone start, which happened to be the Giants' lone win. He has politely but firmly insisted that he can help the club as an everyday player.
"I want to prove that my signing here was a good thing," DeRosa said.
Given the twists and turns a season can take, DeRosa's likely to get his chance.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.