Notes: Bochy sticks by Benitez
But closer will be unavailable for next few games due to injury
NEW YORK -- Armando Benitez won't be closing the next couple of games for the Giants, but not because manager Bruce Bochy demoted him.Bochy said Wednesday that Benitez reported discomfort in his right knee, requiring fluid to be drained from it. If the Giants need to protect a slender ninth-inning lead while Benitez is sidelined, Bochy said he'll select his closer based on which matchups seem most advantageous. Benitez injured himself Tuesday, when he suffered a blown save and the loss in the Giants' 5-4, 12-inning defeat to the Mets. That prompted a deluge of critical e-mails from fans to writers who regularly cover the Giants, creating the impression that Benitez couldn't be more unpopular if he donned a Dodgers cap, spit on the Willie Mays statue and burned Barry Bonds' bats. It wasn't so much the loss as the way it developed that infuriated observers. Benitez walked Jose Reyes to open the 12th and committed two balks that enabled Reyes to score before Carlos Delgado hit a game-winning homer. Told of the public's wrath, Bochy tried to restore a sense of perspective.
"I don't think you give up on a guy with two blown saves," Bochy said. "If you look around the league, there are other guys with blown saves. He's had some good outings, too."Bochy noted that Benitez's checkered past with the Mets may have haunted him as he took the mound.
"This is probably one of the tougher parks for him to pitch in, I would imagine," Bochy said. "But you have to put your emotions aside. It wasn't so much the balks as losing the first hitter on a walk that did us in."Bochy said that he understood the fans' frustration, especially given Benitez's disappointing 2005-06 performance with the Giants.
"You've seen it in the past, and maybe it's hard to erase some of that," Bochy said. "That's what we're hoping to do here. We have to close those games out, and we have to use our best option."Even if Benitez were to convert every save opportunity for the rest of the season, he appears to have sealed a spot in the tiny group of players who drew the undying wrath of fans while wearing a Giants uniform. Johnny Antonelli was the first, outraging San Franciscans when he grumbled about the wind at Seals Stadium in 1959. Ray Sadecki made no friends by compiling losing records after he was traded for Orlando Cepeda in 1966. Dave Kingman was booed for his inability to fulfill his perceived potential. And reliever-turned-broadcaster Jeff Brantley can tell you all about how a few blown saves will elicit public scorn. Availability update: Besides Benitez, right-hander Russ Ortiz was unavailable Wednesday after working two innings and throwing 51 pitches Tuesday. Bochy said that he also hoped to avoid using right-hander Brad Hennessey, who had pitched in five of the Giants' previous seven games. Bochy said second baseman Ray Durham, who missed his third start in a row with a strained abdominal muscle, might be available to pinch-hit. Durham, who participated in pregame hitting and fielding drills, remains on course to return to the lineup Friday in Philadelphia. Good for the 'hood: As a Brooklyn native, Giants infielder Rich Aurilia appreciates the Mets' efforts to upgrade their franchise by building Citi Field. The successor to Shea Stadium is scheduled to open in 2009. "With the team's resurgence the last couple of years, and by having two of the league's best players in Reyes and [David] Wright, they're setting themselves up for a great situation," Aurilia said. "It's going to be very good for the city." Aurilia acknowledged that Shea's often raucous atmosphere might not be duplicated.
"I would think it might become more 'corporate,' in the sense that it's a newer stadium, the seats are probably going to be more expensive and there will be more suites," he said.Coming up: The Giants conclude their lone visit to New York with a 4:10 p.m. PT series finale on Thursday against the Mets. Matt Cain (2-4) will oppose fellow right-hander Orlando Hernandez (2-1).
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.