Barry Zito

Zito Will be a Starter Again Very Soon

Imagine if the Giants had traded Tim Lincecum to Toronto for Alex Rios. That indeed was the rumor at the general managers meetings a few months ago, one that would have been disastrous had it come to fruition.

This little bullpen experiment with Barry Zito, where he’s supposedly going to learn a sinker and collect himself mentally, all as he becomes a joke so well known nationally that Jay Leno will start having a Zito zinger in his monologue every night? Prepare for it to end, real soon.

Because once this stretch full of convenient off-days (including today) ends, who is going to be Zito’s replacement in the rotation? Pat Misch? Doubtful. Bruce Bochy shouldn’t mess with Merkin Valdez, a talented pitcher with a checkered injury history who has finally become a productive Major Leaguer after years of hype following the 2004 Russ Ortiz trade that brought him to San Francisco.

And Noah Lowry coming back this season? I’m sorry, but I don’t even think this qualifies as a Negative Nancy statement when I say I have a better chance of getting a press pass to go into the Giants clubhouse this season than Lowry has of pitching in 2008 (and if any Giants employees are reading this, my email address is

Giants trainers announced yesterday that Lowry would be shut down for three to four weeks. According to the Chronicle, he is “experiencing a ‘pins and needles’ sensation in the affected area.”Uh oh. I knew a rare forearm injury didn’t mean a simple surgery and four weeks of rest.

So, Bochy and Dave Righetti will put it off as long as they can, but Zito must re-enter the starting rotation sooner rather than later. And to think people were talking about a six-man starting rotation. Now it doesn’t matter how Zito pitches, they just need somebody who can throw 100 pitches every fifth day.

If Lincecum got dealt for a rich man’s version of Aaron Rowand, the Giants starting rotation would be Zito, Matt Cain, Kevin Correia, Jonathan Sanchez and whoever else they could find. Plus, the Giants never would have played Fred Lewis, except maybe on days when Randy Winn injured himself trimming his goatee.



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