PHOENIX, AZ - APRIL 16: Starting pitcher Barry Zito #75 of the San Francisco Giants talks with manager Bruce Bochy and a team trainer after an injury during the Major League Baseball game against the Arizona Diamondbacks at Chase Field on April 16, 2011 in Phoenix, Arizona. (Photo by Christian Petersen/Getty Images)

Barry Zito Set For Rehab Start, Probably First Of Many

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Zito's Almost Ready For First Rehab Start

When last we checked in, a recovering Barry Zito was reacquainting himself with something called "the mound", with hopes of someday "pitching" to hitters in the "major leagues". There didn't seem to be any particular rush to actually get Zito back into action, though.

Well, according to the San Francisco Giants, who are paying Barry Zito $18.5 million this season to "pitch", Zito will make his first rehab start next Monday with the San Jose Giants. Zito figures to continue making rehab starts -- within the rules governing such things, of course -- until the exact moment that 1) he looks like the the pitcher the Giants thought they were getting when they signed him, or 2) Ryan Vogelsong turns into the Great Pumpkin.

There's no telling which will happen first, but if you know any smart baseball fans they can probably give you a pretty good hint. Just in case you've got an office pool going, or something.


Barry Zito Pitches Bullpen Session; Giants Tell Him To Take His Sweet Time

Barry Zito's value to the Giants? Depends on how you look at it. He was paid to be an ace -- one of the premier pitchers in baseball. That was the Cutthroat Island of baseball contracts, and it's been a flop. But he was still valuable as a bottom-of-the-rotation guy, a pitcher who could throw close to 200 innings of league-average ball. This seemed to be his fate for the remaining 37 years left on his contract. The Giants' best pitching prospect, Zack Wheeler, is in high-A, and nobody in the upper minors was expected to push for Zito's spot any time soon.

So even though Zito was pitching poorly to start the year, it wasn't supposed to be a good thing for him to get hurt. The only option the Giants had was a 30-something journeyman: Ryan Vogelsong, who the Giants drafted back when they played at Candlestick Park. He was awful for the Pirates, mediocre in Japan, and came back to pitch terribly in triple-A last year. If you think that's hyperbole...


Year Age Tm Lg Lev Aff W L W-L% ERA G IP H ER HR BB SO WHIP BB/9 SO/9
2010 32 2 Teams 2 Lgs AAA PHI,LAA 3 8 .273 4.81 33 95.1 107 51 8 62 110 1.773 5.9 10.4
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/25/2011.

Give him credit for the strikeout rate, but that walk rate was dreadful. Since 1919, only 119 major-league pitchers have walked that many hitters in 90 innings or more. Some of them had above-average ERAs, but they tended to have names like "Nolan Ryan" and "Bob Feller." Most of the pitchers had miserable ERAs, as you'd expect.

But, again, Vogelsong had that walk rate in triple-A, where Wily Mo Pena is the most feared hitter in the land. Ronnie Belliard is an every-day player in AAA. So when a pitcher does that poorly in the minors, it follows that he shouldn't be a long-term solution in the majors, regardless of how well he pitched in spring training. The Giants needed Zito to come back as soon as possible.

Because baseball is an impish thing that likes to mess with your mind, though, Vogelsong has pitched fantastically.

2011 3 0 1.93 7 5 32.2 24 8 7 2 10 29 1.041 6.6 2.8 8.0 2.90
Provided by View Original Table
Generated 5/25/2011.

That's 32 innings of quality pitching. The walk rate is much lower, the strikeout rate is above average for a starter, and he's keeping the ball in the park. The caveat, of course, is sample size. Anyone can look good for 32 innings. Zito has done it for the Giants for stretches in 2006, 2007, 2009, and 2010. Just because the stretch comes at the beginning of the season doesn't mean it's more believable.

But the Giants have to see if Vogelsong can keep this up. He sure looks like a good starting pitcher right now. That means that Zito can work on a few more things while he's in Wally Pipp limbo. From Andrew Baggarly:

Between his work in the bullpen and his three innings in simulated game conditions Tuesday, Barry Zito threw roughly 100 pitches off a mound -- the workload at which most rehabbing starters are considered stretched out and ready.

But Zito will not rejoin the Giants rotation in five days. He won't return within a week, or even two.

...the Giants and Zito are using this time on the disabled list to make some tweaks, experiment with some new grips, search for a little more zip on his low-80s fastball and give him more avenues to retire hitters on a consistent basis.

It's quite the luxury. With five starting pitchers throwing well, the Giants can let their $126 Million Man work on a few things. Tinker around with that grip he saw Ted Lilly use. Throw some long-toss. Take care of that squeaky gate in the front yard. If and when Vogelsong returns to being Ryan Vogelsong, presumably the Giants will have a rested Zito filled with the Secrets of the Ancients, readier than he's ever been for action.

Until then, he'll wait. And the Giants are a-okay with that. It's just your typical sixth starter situation. Well, except for that whole "contract equivalent to the gross domestic product of Kyrgyzstan" angle. But that's just nitpicking.


Barry Zito Not Close To Returning To Action

The good news was that Barry Zito’s foot wasn’t broken. The bad news is that even a sprained foot can keep a pitcher out of action for quite some time.

Zito last pitched on April 16. He’s just now off crutches, and can walk, if gingerly, without a protective boot.’s Chris Haft:

Zito, who was examined Wednesday by foot and ankle specialist Dr. Robert Anderson in Charlotte, N.C., cannot yet put full weight on his injured foot.

Bochy said that once Zito can function without the walking boot, he’ll participate in baseball-related activities for one to three weeks before trying to throw off a mound.

The Giants didn’t need another fifth starter until Thursday night, when Ryan Vogelsong made his first start since 2004 and beat the Pirates with 5-2/3 strong innings. For the moment, at least, Vogelsong’s the answer because the Giants have little depth in their farm system.


Barry Zito's Foot Not Broken

A second set of x-rays on the foot of San Francisco Giants' pitcher Barry Zito came up negative, and that's a positive bit of news for the Giants. From CSN Bay Area:

Giants left-hander Barry Zito's trip to a Bay Area podiatrist on Monday, which included specialized x-rays designed to provide a more accurate assessment of the extent of any structural damage in his sprained right foot, confirmed an earlier x-ray's finding that there are no broken bones.

The report also notes that though there was no change from the initial diagnosis of a sprained foot, Zito is on crutches and wearing an immobilization boot.

Zito left Saturday night's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks after falling awkwardly while fielding a pop-up to the mound. He was placed on the disabled list for the first time in his career, a streak that spanned over twelve seasons.

The Giants plan to start Ryan Vogelsong in Zito's place on Friday night when the Atlanta Braves come into San Francisco.


Giants' Barry Zito Placed On Disabled List With Foot Sprain

For the first time in his 12-season career, San Francisco Giants' starting pitcher Barry Zito will miss a start, going on the 15-day disabled list for a right foot sprain suffered during Saturday night's game against the Arizona Diamondbacks. The news comes from Andrew Baggarly of the Mercury News, who also notes that right-hander Ryan Vogelsong was called to take Zito's spot on the roster and, presumably, the rotation.

Though Zito's career with the Giants has been an up-and-down affair that saw him left off the roster for all three of the Giants' playoff series, his durability was always seen as a welcome, if pricey, addition to the San Francisco pitching staff.

Vogelsong is a prodigal son, a former Giants prospect from last decade who returned as a minor-league free agent in the offseason. He started quickly in Fresno this year, striking out 17 in his first 11 innings. He was battling for a roster spot in the spring, but lost the mop-up scrum to the incumbent, Guillermo Mota.


Giants' Barry Zito Injured, Streak In Jeopardy

The San Francisco Giants beat the Arizona Diamondbacks Saturday night, 5-3 in Phoenix, but they lost starter Barry Zito to a second-inning injury.

With the Giants already leading 2-0 on Buster Posey's two-run home run in the first inning, Zito got into trouble in the second. After the Diamondbacks tied the game with two doubles sandwiched around a walk, Arizona starter Joe Saunders laid down a bunt. Attempting to field the ball, Zito seemed to catch his right cleat in the turf and couldn't continue to pitch.

Zito's injury was later diagnosed as a sprain in the middle of his right foot. It's not yet known if he'll miss his next start, but Zito's never missed a start because of an injury during his career, a streak that stretches back 12 seasons.

Following Zito's exit, San Francisco's bullpen allowed just one run -- closer Brian Wilson, shaky in previous outings, pitched a perfect ninth -- as the Giants wound up winning, 5-3.

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