Bruce Bochy is looking at the whole season, resting his regulars in an attempt to avoid something like the 2-13 collapse at the end of last season.
"It just makes sense to me with a veteran lineup like we have," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said in his office Wednesday. "It also gives me a chance to get other players into the lineup and keep them fresh. I like to use all my players."
Bochy is very approachable, in sharp contrast to his predecessor, Felipe Alou, and talks to players individually on a regular basis.
"But really, I don’t even have to talk to the players to know when they need a rest. You can see that their bats aren’t as fast, or their general movements have slowed up. It’s a tough game. It’s not just the physical part of it but the mental. It’s a grind."
Players can’t count on getting a whole game off, though.
"If I see a way to win a game by using a player I’m resting, I’ll do it," he said, "whether it’s pinch-hitting or playing an inning or two in the field. That won’t kill them."
There was a test of Bochy’s philosophy when Tim Lincecum made his much-anticipated debut in a nationally televised game. Bochy sat Barry Bonds and played Kevin Frandsen at third and Todd Linden in center. The Giants lost the game, but Bochy didn’t second-guess his decision.
"It’s a long season," he said.
There will be an even bigger test when the Giants hit that 31 games in 30 days stretch in August.
Bonds is the key veteran who needs periodic rest, even if he doesn’t want it. In fact, he wanted to play in Licecum’s debut.
"I saw a lot of him when I was managing San Diego," Bochy said. "I think he hit more home runs against my team than any other manager. But watching him up close has made me realize even more how this guy is just a cut above everybody else."
Bonds, in fact, has been more the type of hitter he was in the 2000-04 period when he might have gotten only one pitch to hit in a game but just crushed it. His ratio of home runs, right around one in seven at-bats, is even better than before.
As a result, teams are returning to the strategy of walking Bonds, intentionally or semi-intentionally, 31 times in the first 33 Giants games.
That doesn’t bother Bochy.
"Sometimes, when I was managing San Diego, he made me wish I’d walked him more," he said. "But I had seen those studies showing that the Giants scored more runs when he was walked than when he wasn’t."
This year, the Giants have scored 34 runs, 23 percent of their 145 total, in innings in which Bonds has walked.
It’s been hard to get a read on the Giants because they’ve had hot streaks and cold ones. They scored nine runs in one inning in the Monday night win over the New York Mets, but overall, they rank only 10th in the league in runs scored. Their team ERA is eighth in the league.
It seems their pitching will keep them afloat until the final two months.
And then we’ll see if Bochy’s program of periodic rest for his aging starters will pay off.
Share your comments below.