02/08/2013 8:57 PM ET
One-time top prospect Villalona may be on way
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
SAN FRANCISCO -- Angel Villalona's long-delayed arrival in big league camp just might happen.
Villalona, formerly a highly regarded prospect from the Dominican Republic who was charged with murder in that country, had his visa approved. Bobby Evans, Giants vice president of baseball operations, said that once Villalona arrives in Scottsdale, Ariz., the Giants will apply for his reinstatement from the restricted list.
News of Villalona's status was initially reported by Baseball America.
The Giants signed Villalona for a then-club-record $2.1 million bonus in 2006. The 16-year-old corner infielder was said to have prodigious power. While playing for Class A San Jose in September 2009, an injured Villalona returned home to visit his family. A fatal shooting at a nightclub resulted in Villalona's arrest. He reportedly paid the victim's family $139,000 before charges were dropped for a lack of evidence.
Villalona's last professional experience came in the Dominican Summer League in 2012. He hit .303 with seven homers and 34 RBIs in 44 games.
Zito hoping this isn't final year with Giants
SAN FRANCISCO -- After this season, Barry Zito and the Giants could be involved in an activity they wouldn't have imagined before last year: Retaining the left-hander for an additional season, or even negotiating an extension with him.
Zito's reversal in 2012, when he finished 15-8 and added two more victories in the postseason, has created the possibility that the Giants might want him to stick around longer.
Zito and the Giants have reached the seventh and final year of his $126 million contract, which crests this season with a $20 million salary. Zito's performance this season will determine whether the Giants pick up an $18 million option on his services for 2014. They also can buy him out for $7 million.
Zito spent 2007-11 posting a 43-61 record with a 4.55 ERA. But even Giants general manager Brian Sabean acknowledged keeping Zito beyond this year is within the realm of possibility.
"Pitchers that stay in shape, especially left-handers, seem to have ways to reinvent themselves," Sabean said.
Said Zito, "This is where I want to be. I would love to play baseball in San Francisco until I'm happy riding off into the sunset."
• Sabean said Friday that the club's stance regarding Brian Wilson hasn't changed since last month, when he said that the Giants were unlikely to re-sign their former closer. Sabean said that the Giants have maintained contact with Wilson's representatives. But San Francisco is content to wait until Wilson, who underwent his second Tommy John elbow surgery last April, proves that he is throwing well enough to pitch competitively. "Their camp holds hope that he can get a contract with more guaranteed money," Sabean said.
• Left-handers Dan Runzler and Eric Surkamp are on the mend but are at different stages in their recoveries. Runzler, whose progress has been delayed by a strained left lat muscle, will be able to participate in Spring Training without restrictions. Surkamp, who underwent Tommy John elbow surgery last July, is throwing three times a week at 90 feet and probably won't pitch competitively until midsummer.
• The Giants have reminded people attending Saturday's FanFest to expect long lines and waiting periods for autograph sessions featuring players and coaches. The Giants recommend fans to keep busy with other activities, such as visiting the Trophy Pavilion at Pier 48, attending the question-and-answer sessions featuring players and club officials, watching KNBR's live broadcast and interviews in the seats behind home plate, or taking self-guided tours of the Giants clubhouse and the AT&T Park press box.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.