Guillen, Zito not on Giants' NLDS roster
Outfielder battling neck problem; Ross gets start in right
SAN FRANCISCO -- Though Jose Guillen was a near-constant presence in right field after the Giants obtained him, his lingering neck pain prompted manager Bruce Bochy to omit him from the National League Division Series roster Thursday.With Guillen shelved, Cody Ross started Game 1 against the Atlanta Braves and probably will remain San Francisco's primary right fielder throughout the series. "He's a solid all-around player," Bochy said of Ross, another late-season acquisition. "He plays both sides of the ball well. He gives you good defense. He does give you some speed. He gives you a bat in the lineup." Though Ross hit .188 (6-for-32) with 10 strikeouts this year against Atlanta while playing for Florida, he batted .288 in 33 games with the Giants after they claimed him on waivers Aug. 22.
"I like the way he's been swinging the bat the last two, three weeks, so that's why he's out there," Bochy said before the game.The Giants also liked Guillen's bat, explaining why they sent Kansas City a player to be named to get him on Aug. 13. Guillen proceeded to appear in 42 of the Giants' final 45 games and started 38 of them. But his physical discomfort limited him to a .266 batting average with three home runs and 15 RBIs -- six of them coming in a Sept. 19 game against Milwaukee. Guillen also compiled a subpar .692 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage). Bochy said that he discussed Guillen's health issues at length with him.
"It's a tough decision when you have a guy who's been going out there pretty much every day and you leave him off the roster," Bochy said. "But I think he would agree that he wasn't quite 100 percent."Guillen's misfortune largely accounted for the inclusion of center fielder Aaron Rowand, whose roster status appeared iffy, on the 25-man Division Series contingent. But Rowand's .478 lifetime average (11-for-23) against Derek Lowe, Atlanta's Game 1 starter, wasn't enough to get him in the lineup. "Aaron hasn't gotten his at-bats," Bochy said, referring to Rowand's recent lack of activity. "That's tough on a guy to come off the bench [and start]."
Even Rowand said, "When you are getting sporadic at-bats, you can throw numbers out the window."Bochy also delivered his side of the fuss surrounding left-hander Barry Zito, whose rumored exclusion from the roster became official. Bochy said that he had a productive chat with Zito, who finished 9-14 with a 4.15 ERA. "Barry's such a good teammate and a standup guy," Bochy said. "... I think it's fair to say that the other four [starters] are throwing a little bit better right now. And we weren't going to go with five starters. ... Believe me, it's tough, when you have a guy who's the reason why you're here. ... But he was great about it. He said, 'Hey, I understand. Right now I'm not throwing quite as well as the rest of them.' He went out to the 'pen right away and he's going to stay sharp in case something happens or we go further." The Giants can revise the roster if they advance to the League Championship Series. The best-of-seven format for that series could lead them to find a need for Zito, the club's highest-paid player with three years left on his seven-year, $126 million deal. Bochy said that keeping Guillermo Mota (1-3, 4.33 ERA in 56 games) over Chris Ray (3-0, 4.13 in 28 games) for the last right-handed bullpen spot was "another tough call." Being a 10-year veteran and finishing the regular season with only one unearned run allowed in five innings enabled Mota to get the nod.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.