Giants designate Runzler, Tanaka for assignment
Moves to make room on 40-man roster for Hembree, Monell
SAN DIEGO -- To clear room on the 40-man roster for a pair of September callups, the Giants designated lefty reliever Dan Runzler and outfielder Kensuke Tanaka for assignment.
Heath Hembree and Johnny Monell were among the eight players joining the Giants for Tuesday night's game in San Diego. They were each placed on the 40-man roster, leaving Runzler and Tanaka as the odd men out.
Runzler, a ninth-round selection for the Giants in the 2007 First-Year Player Draft, had his best season in 2009, when he rose through every Minor League classification. He then pitched in 11 games for the big league club that September, allowing just one run in 8 2/3 innings.
He struggled from then on, however, posting a 5.68 ERA and a 1.82 WHIP this season with Triple-A Fresno.
"He did lose some command, which happens," manager Bruce Bochy said. "Sometimes it can be a mental issue, more so than physical. I think that's more the case with Runz. He's got great stuff, and you never know -- something could click there, where he gets back to being the pitcher he was when we called him up."
Tanaka, meanwhile, played in 15 games this season with the big league club and had eight singles in 30 at-bats. The 32-year-old, who had transitioned from second base to left field, hit .329 with Fresno this season. He had previously spent 13 seasons in the Japanese League with the Nippon Ham Fighters.
Posey could miss finale after ball hits finger
SAN DIEGO -- Giants catcher Buster Posey was removed from Tuesday night's game in San Diego after being hit in the hand while trying to block a curveball in the dirt in the sixth inning.
After the Giants' 3-2 loss to the Padres, Posey, who sported a wrap on his right ring finger, was unsure if he'd be ready to play in Wednesday afternoon's series finale.
"We'll have to see," Posey said. "I think there's a possibility."
The ball in the dirt took a funny hop and hit Posey in the tip of his finger, nearly ripping the nail off. Posey remained in the game initially, but backup catcher Hector Sanchez pinch-hit for him in the seventh.
Posey was 2-for-3 on the night when he was removed.
Giants will find spots for callups to see action
SAN DIEGO -- The Giants clubhouse was noticeably more crowded Tuesday in San Diego, with eight September callups having joined the ballclub.
But manager Bruce Bochy said he isn't planning on changing much in terms of his game preparations, despite the expanded roster.
"I'll find my spots to get [the callups] in the game," Bochy said. "Some of them will start, but at the same time, we're going to be playing to win every game. Our regulars are going to be out there."
Juan Perez started in left field Tuesday night -- a day after he started in center for Triple-A Fresno. Bochy plans to platoon Perez with Francisco Peguero and Roger Kieschnick based on matchups this month.
In the infield, Bochy noted that he'd like to see what Ehire Adrianza is capable of, so Adrianza will likely get a start at some point. Bochy also has Nick Noonan as a potential double-switch candidate.
Don't expect to see catcher Johnny Monell too frequently. His presence is mostly to provide security for Bochy should he choose to pinch-hit with backup catcher Hector Sanchez.
"I'm just going to take advantage of whatever opportunity I can get," said Monell, whose first game will mark his Major League debut. "Whether I'm coming off the bench to pinch-hit, whether I'm starting the game, I'm just happy to be here and be able to showcase my talent."
Affeldt takes next step, faces live hitters
SAN DIEGO -- Giants left-hander Jeremy Affeldt threw 30 "competitive pitches" Tuesday afternoon in San Diego, an important step in his recovery from the strained left groin that has sidelined him since July 20.
Affeldt faced live batters for 30 pitches and threw 50 pitches total. He felt no ill effects of the groin injury.
The 12-year veteran will throw another session Friday, and he said the next step would be to work on fielding drills.
"There's probably not going to be a ton of appearances," Affeldt said of his potential return. "But just to be able to come back and end the season healthy is going to be a big thing for me going into the offseason."
In 38 relief appearances this year, Affeldt has posted a 3.51 ERA.
In other injury news, righty reliever Sandy Rosario is battling lower-back soreness. Manager Bruce Bochy said Rosario told him he's feeling much better than he did Monday. But Bochy -- given an influx of arms with the addition of September callups -- said he'll likely shy away from using Rosario.
Hembree enjoys scoreless inning in debut
SAN DIEGO -- Heath Hembree arrived in San Diego on Tuesday, trying to convey a sense of normalcy to himself in order to remain focused on the task at hand.
Of course, that's easier said than done when the task at hand is a Major League debut.
Hembree, the Giants' No. 6 prospect who was called up before Tuesday's 3-2 loss to the Padres, tossed a 1-2-3 eighth inning. His fastball/slider mix looked very sharp and he needed just 11 pitches -- seven strikes -- to retire the side.
"It's something that I've dreamed of," Hembree, a hard-throwing 24-year-old right-hander, said. "Everybody was excited. I can't really put it into words."
Hembree's parents and sister booked a cross-country flight from South Carolina to San Diego the moment they heard the news. Hembree made their trip worthwhile, getting the first batter he faced to fly out to center before striking out the next two.
Manager Bruce Bochy came away impressed.
"Nice job," he said. "He threw strikes, used his slider, had good command. It was a good debut for him."
Hembree's high-velocity fastball has been well-documented. But the key to his recent success at Triple-A Fresno has been increased confidence in his secondary pitches -- specifically his slider.
"I can throw them in different situations, different counts," Hembree said. "I've gained a lot of confidence in my secondary pitches."
Hembree said the pitches haven't changed much since Spring Training -- only the frequency with which he uses them.
He made 54 appearances this season for Fresno, and he recorded 31 saves, while posting a 4.07 ERA. Though Hembree was used almost exclusively as a closer with Fresno and projects as a late-inning guy at the big league level, manager Bruce Bochy doesn't plan on pitching him in too many high-leverage situations early on.
Hembree was given No. 38, the same number worn by three-time All-Star closer Brian Wilson, who notched the final out of the 2010 World Series for the Giants. No pressure, kid.
But Hembree didn't pay any mind to the connection between him and another hard-throwing reliever with a fastball/slider mix, who wore the same jersey number.
"I'm just happy to get a jersey," Hembree said.