SAN FRANCISCO -- Rookie shortstop Ehire Adrianza intrigues Giants manager Bruce Bochy, and not just because the 24-year-old looked good as an 11th-inning pinch-runner while scoring the winning run in Sunday's 3-2 decision over Arizona.
"He has good range, he's athletic and he's made so much improvement with the bat from both sides," Bochy said.
Even with the season dwindling, Bochy has stuck largely with his regulars, as was the case in Monday's series opener against Colorado. But he might make an exception for Adrianza, who has spent eight years in the Giants' farm system since they signed him as a non-drafted free agent in 2006.
"I'm going to try to pick a spot to play him," Bochy said.
Adrianza, a non-roster invitee to Spring Training for four consecutive years, has commanded attention primarily with his defensive skills. But he swung a lively bat this season, compiling a higher batting average at Triple-A Fresno (.310 in 45 games) than at Double-A Richmond (.240 in 73 games).
Return could be imminent for Gaudin, Affeldt
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants likely will decide Tuesday whether to reinstate left-hander Jeremy Affeldt and right-hander Chad Gaudin from the disabled list and add them to an already bulging pitching staff.
Affeldt and Gaudin threw the equivalent of two innings apiece in a simulated game Monday. The veterans sharpened their skills against rookies Ehire Adrianza, Roger Kieschnick, Nick Noonan, Francisco Peguero and Juan Perez.
"Chad was ahead of where I thought he may be, and Jeremy was right there," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Whether Affeldt (groin) or Gaudin (carpal tunnel syndrome) are activated will depend on their physical state Tuesday.
If they're reinstated, finding them opportunities to pitch could be challenging. The Giants currently have a 12-man bullpen and five starters, with Barry Zito, Guillermo Moscoso and Gaudin, if he's healthy, capable of making spot starts.
Gaudin, who was firmly established in the rotation when he was sidelined, therefore might have to spend the rest of the season as a reliever. Bochy sounded as if he were leaning toward keeping the current rotation intact, but he held the door open slightly for the likes of Gaudin, Moscoso and Zito.
"They all want to pitch," Bochy said. "There's no backing off with these guys, which is what you want to see."
Cain expresses deep admiration for Helton
SAN FRANCISCO -- Todd Helton's Colorado Rockies home jersey hangs in Matt Cain's dressing stall in the Giants clubhouse. It's more than just a collector's item, more than just a memento.
It's a symbol of the enduring respect Cain has for Helton, the Rockies first baseman who's likely making his final AT&T Park appearance as an active player during this series. Helton, who didn't start Monday's series opener, entered the game with a .317 batting average and 2,503 hits in 17 years. He has announced that this season probably will be his last.
"I enjoy playing against him," Cain said. "It's been fun. It's been a challenge, but I think that's the enjoyable part -- facing somebody like Todd who's a Hall of Fame[-caliber] guy."
Indeed, Cain and Helton are inextricably linked. On Aug. 29, 2005, the 20-year-old Cain made his Major League debut against the Rockies. Cain pitched respectably in a 2-1 loss, allowing three hits and both Rockies runs in five innings. But what really distinguished his performance was his 14-pitch confrontation in the fifth inning against Helton, the last batter he faced. Helton fouled off numerous pitches before Cain won the battle, inducing a fly to deep left-center field.
"I remember that like it was yesterday," Cain said. "I don't remember every pitch, but I remember throwing everything I had at him and he was putting good wood on everything. I think the worst pitch I made probably was the last one. I think it was down the middle. A fastball. Luckily he just missed it."
Helton has accumulated 71 plate appearances against Cain, more than any other active pitcher the left-handed batter has faced. The results: a .200 batting average (12-for-60), with three homers, six RBIs and six strikeouts.
To Cain, Helton's professionalism transcends statistics.
"I think that's what you always appreciate about guys," Cain said. "He was one of the guys I looked up to. Playing against him, you see the way he goes about his work. He doesn't show guys up. He goes about it in a professional way. He does everything with class, the way you're supposed to do it."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.