4/5/2014 8:29 P.M. ET
Middle relievers come up big for Giants
By Chris Haft / MLB.com
LOS ANGELES -- In football, it's the third-down running back. In basketball, it's the sixth man.
A player who can enter the game and change the pace of the action possesses definite value. The Giants had two of them Friday, relievers David Huff and Juan Gutierrez. They gave Giants pitching a different look after Ryan Vogelsong left the game, combining for three scoreless innings and hastening San Francisco's 8-4 triumph.
The contributions of Huff and Gutierrez represented the game's turning point, in Giants manager Bruce Bochy's estimation.
"Momentum was going [the Dodgers'] way. They put a stop to it," Bochy said. "That's what has to happen."
Huff, a left-hander, was a definite change from the right-handed Vogelsong. Then came the right-handed Gutierrez, whose 98 mph fastball separates him from every other Giants pitcher.
Hicks a strong part of Giants' second-base mix
LOS ANGELES -- Brandon Hicks received his second straight start at second base Saturday, demonstrating that he has become a legitimate option when Giants manager Bruce Bochy makes the lineup.
"I like the way he's playing second base and swinging the bat," Bochy said.
Hicks, who made the season-opening squad as a non-roster invitee to Spring Training, was hitting .444 (4-for-9) with two doubles and a home run through Saturday.
Expect Joaquin Arias and Ehire Adrianza to get their share of playing time, though. Bochy said he will continue to settle on the player who gives the Giants the best matchup that day when he's selecting a second baseman. It could be a platoon-based decision or simply sticking with a hot hand.
"I'll try to mix it up among all three of them," Bochy said.
Bochy added that Brandon Crawford's presence at shortstop Saturday, even with Dodgers left-hander Paul Maholm opposing the Giants, shouldn't come as a surprise. The left-handed-batting Crawford started last Tuesday against Arizona lefty Wade Miley and isn't automatically subject to being platooned. But Bochy did say that he would "give [Crawford] a break" against certain left-handers, which would afford additional playing time for Adrianza, Arias or Hicks.
Affeldt's return from knee injury not imminent
LOS ANGELES -- Left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, who's recovering from a sprained right knee, likely will need to remain on the disabled list longer than expected, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Saturday.
Affeldt is eligible to be activated from the DL on Monday, a scheduled off-day for the Giants. But he struggled in an injury rehabilitation outing Saturday with Triple-A Fresno at Las Vegas, allowing four runs and three hits while walking two in one-third of an inning.
Asked about the report he received on Affeldt's performance, Bochy said, "The report probably matched the box score." Bochy quickly added that Las Vegas can be an unfriendly ballpark for pitchers, which might have compromised Affeldt's effort.
Bochy emphasized that he wants Affeldt to be completely healthy when he rejoins the Giants, regardless of how much recovery time he requires.
"I don't think it's going to be critical that we rush him," Bochy said, adding that the bullpen's overall effectiveness has minimized the urgency to activate Affeldt.
Bochy counting on players' help for replay challenges
LOS ANGELES -- Input from players, manager Bruce Bochy observed Saturday, can facilitate the new replay process by prompting the decision to initiate or avoid a challenge.
The sight of a player insisting that a call should be changed -- and who is truthful about it -- will strengthen Bochy's resolve. It also will prompt assistant coach Shawon Dunston, who examines each play, to study the video even more closely for clues.
"I need help at the start of the process to get me out there and buy time," Bochy said.
Bochy noted he must be careful that he doesn't approach umpires on behalf of some players more than others. It's essential, he said, that all players know that he'll support them.
"They need to know, though, that you're relying on them," Bochy said.