Call it the curse of Robb Nen.
The San Francisco Giants were left without their expected closer on the roster for the 3rd time in 4 years, after Armando Benitez was placed on the 15 Day Disabled List with left eye bursitis on Saturday evening, as the Giants finalized the opening day roster.
Other moves that came after the Giants 14-3 exhibition loss in Oakland included the surprising decision to designate for assignment infielder Angel Chavez. This move means Chavez has 10 days to clear waivers before he can be sent to the minors, during which time he could be picked up by another team. This move was made so that backup catcher Todd Greene could be added to the 40 man roster.
The rest of roster moves included optioning pitcher Kevin Correia, outfielder Todd Linden and catcher Eliezer Alfonzo to Fresno, and reassigning second baseman Kevin Frandsen and outfielder Abraham Nunez to Minor League camp, which will probably also result in them going to Fresno.
The moves ended a week of speculation of how the 25 man roster would turn out, which players would be moved to make room for the new additions, and whether or not the Giants would trade anyone. The very competitive bullpen race ended with a 7 man bullpen of Jeremy Accardo, Jeff Fassero, Steve Kline, Scott Munter, Jack Taschner, Tyler Walker and Tim Worrell.
With Benitez on the DL, the Giants will have to find a new closer for the fourth straight season. This year, though, there are more choices with closing experience. Tyler Walker, who closed for most of 2005, was not traded as had been rumored. Manager Felipe Alou also continues to tout Tim Worrell, who ably filled in for Nen with the Giants in 2003.
Alou seems convinced that Benitez will not spend a long time on the DL, but worries remain after Benitez missed over three months with a hamstring injury.
Like Walker, Linden also found himself still on the Giants, after General Manager Brian Sabean had confessed to looking around for ‘better situations’ for Linden. He returns to Fresno, where he hit a Pacific Coast League leading 30 home runs despite missing nearly 2 months while in the majors in 2005.
Meanwhile, Kevin Corriea found himself packing for the minors after posting a 2.25 ERA in the spring. Jeremy Accardo was chosen to remain in the minors over Correia because of Accardo’s experience in relieving. Correia is expected to go back to starting, and join Fresno’s rotation. The bullpen is still a bit of a competition, with three players having options left and one of them having to be sent down once Benitez returns.
Most surprising was Chavez being DFA’d to make room for Green. Chavez, a utility infielder who made his major league debut with the Giants in 2005, led the team with 10 doubles in Spring Training and was 1 away from being tied for the Major League lead in the spring. The move left the Giants with only 3 middle infielders, all of them over the age of 35. Meanwhile, the rumored move of Single-A pitcher Kelyn Acosta to the 60 Day Disabled List didn’t happen. Chavez now can be claimed by any team in the majors in the next 10 days without compensation. 38 year old Jose Vizcaino is the only backup the Giants have on the roster for the second base, third base and shortstop positions.
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