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Notes: Looking for pitching answers
08/07/2004 4:03 PM ET
SAN FRANCISCO -- What to do about the Giants' pitching problems?

Good question. But the answers are elusive.

"We're open to suggestions," said reliever Jim Brower.

The timing couldn't be worse for starter Jerome Williams to be on the disabled list after arm surgery -- here's a nine-game winner possibly lost for the season -- or for starter Dustin Hermanson being diverted to the closer role.

Holes. That's the problem. That's why fledgling minor leaguer Merkin Valdez was brought up as an emergency reliever, why rookie Noah Lowry became part of the rotation, why Brad Hennessey of all people was forced to make his Major League debut for the Giants on Saturday, opposing Cubs future Hall of Famer Greg Maddux.

   Wayne Franklin  /   P
Born: 03/09/74
Height: 6'2"
Weight: 210 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

That's why veteran Wayne Franklin, converted to a reliever this season because of a long-man need, might be transformed into a starter, why rookie reliever Tyler Walker was held out of the bullpen for a few days to keep him fresh for a possible start.

And there's a doubleheader coming Aug. 18 against the Montreal Expos at SBC Park -- talk about using up your bullets in a hurry.

Making matters worse, starters Kirk Rueter and Brett Tomko are both under .500 and have been inconsistent, and the situation got to the point that even 19-year-old Matt Cain was considered as a callup.

All this when the Giants have lost seven of their last 11 games, are 6 1/2 games behind the Dodgers in the National League West and trying to stay within range in the Wild Card chase.

Lowry proved a gift from the baseball gods, bless his left arm. He won his first big league game in a shutout against the Cincinnati Reds on Aug. 2, and over four starts has a 1-0, 2.43 ERA. Glad to have you, kid.

Hennessey under pressure? Sure. And manager Felipe Alou had no advice for the youngster in the biggest game of his life.

"He has one of the best sliders in our minor league system, and while I welcomed him at our team meeting, I think with a kid like that, you just let him pitch," said Alou. "We don't really know about him, like we do Lowry."

There will be no easy solution for the Giants as they try all options. The good news is they now have a handle on exactly what their pitching prospects are made of, how they may fit into next year's rotation. Jesse Foppert could make a late-season showing on the hill, but by then it may be too late.

   Ricky Ledee  /   RF
Born: 11/22/73
Height: 6'1"
Weight: 200 lbs
Bats: L / Throws: L

Ledee action: Giants outfielder Ricky Ledee only wants to help after being traded from Philadelphia for reliever Felix Rodriguez last week. Although batting .263 overall, he was 0-for-10 for San Francisco entering Saturday's game in which he gave Michael Tucker a breather in right field.

"Ledee is 4-for-10 against Maddux while Tucker is 2-for-14," said Alou. "So far, Ricky hasn't seen a hittable pitcher. Everything he's seen has been a tough pitch. But I gotta play him, give him a shot to contribute."

Alou on Maddux: The Giants skipper says advice to hitters facing Maddux is simple: "Good luck."

"You just hope he makes a mistake," said Alou. "The one pitch that isn't as sharp as before might be his splitter. It doesn't dip as much. But he has such a smooth delivery and makes his pitches easy -- one, two, three."

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This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.