SAN FRANCISCO -- Travis Blackley didn't make much of an impression during his brief tenure with the Giants in 2007. He might be better equipped to command attention this time.Blackley, 29, returned to the Major Leagues for the first time since his Giants stint as San Francisco purchased his contract Tuesday from Triple-A Fresno. Blackley replaced left-hander Jeremy Affeldt, who went on the 15-day disabled list with a sprained right knee. Blackley excelled for Fresno, compiling a 3-0 mark with a Pacific Coast League-best 0.39 ERA in four appearances (three starts). A prototypical soft-tossing lefty in his previous manifestation as a Giant, Blackley said that he now pitches with more control (three walks in 23 1/3 innings for Fresno), velocity and maturity. "Back then, my fastball struggled to break glass," Blackley said. "I threw 85, 88 maybe 90 [mph] on a good day back then. I feel like I've gotten stronger as I've gotten older. I've found the low 90s pretty regularly. It gives you a lot more room for error and makes your offspeed pitches a little better." Since the Giants discarded him following the '07 season, Blackley has traveled the baseball world -- and the world, period -- in search of another big league chance. He pitched in the D-backs, Mets and A's organizations and played in Korea, Mexico and his native Australia before re-signing with the Giants. "I figured if I kept pitching the way I was, somebody would give me a chance," Blackley said. "I feel more confident in myself. That's a huge key in being able to handle it."
Reliever Affeldt heads to DL with sprained knee
SAN FRANCISCO -- Suffice it to say that Jeremy Affeldt's caller ID strikes fear into the hearts of the Giants' medical staff.
"The trainers are tired of getting that call -- 'Hey, I'm at home and I hurt myself,'" Affeldt said.Affeldt experienced more bad domestic luck Saturday night as he sprained his right knee while hoisting his son, Walker, for an embrace. Following an MRI and a few examinations, the Giants placed the left-hander on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday. San Francisco purchased the contract of left-hander Travis Blackley from Triple-A Fresno to replace Affeldt on the active roster. Fresno outfielder Tyler Graham was designated for assignment to clear a 40-man roster spot for Blackley. Affeldt's 2011 season ended last September when he cut his right hand while attempting to separate frozen hamburger patties. As Affeldt himself readily pointed out, his injuries have tended to be of a freak nature: He tore his left oblique in 2010, though left-handers typically injure the right one; in 2005 he tore his left groin tendon off the bone, a relatively rare injury among baseball players; and in 2002-03 he endured blisters on his left middle finger that forced removal of half his fingernail. This time, Affeldt returned home and soon encountered Walker, who jumped off the couch to give Dad an enthusiastic welcome. Despite being only 4 years old, Walker already stands 4 1/2 feet tall and weighs 60 pounds. So catching Walker wasn't a routine play for Affeldt. "When he jumped, I kind of caught him weird and my knee kind of shifted in a little bit and I felt some pressure on the knee," Affeldt said. Manager Bruce Bochy said that Affeldt, who was 0-1 with a 4.09 ERA in 10 appearances, could be ready to pitch again in seven to 10 days. But the Giants, obviously unwilling to play shorthanded for that long a stretch, opted to shelve the 10-year veteran. "It's not easy to replace an experienced guy like Jeremy. But we think that the way Blackley throws, we can fill this hole," Bochy said, expressing hopes that Affeldt's absence won't rock the bullpen. Blackley, the Australian who made two starts for the Giants in 2007, was 3-0 with a 0.39 ERA in four games (three starts) with Fresno. Graham was batting .263 in five games.
Manager Bruce Bochy believes that first baseman Aubrey Huff, who's on the 15-day disabled list with an anxiety disorder, should be fit for reinstatement when he becomes eligible next Monday.
"It's just a matter of whether he's mentally ready," Bochy said Tuesday.
Huff took early batting practice with teammates Tuesday and drove several pitches solidly to right field.
"He looked like he got some good swings off," Bochy said. Bochy said that Dan Runzler experienced a "mild setback" in his recovery from a strained left side, explaining why the left-hander was in the Giants clubhouse awaiting an examination from team orthopedist Ken Akizuki. Bochy said that the source of Runzler's discomfort could be torn scar tissue, which wouldn't be serious. Runzler, who has made three one-inning appearances in extended spring training games, said that he feels close to being ready for a Minor League injury rehabilitation stint. Ryan Theriot's success against Miami right-hander Ricky Nolasco (.444, 4-for-9) accounted for the start he received at second base over switch-hitting Emmanuel Burriss. Bochy otherwise played percentages by returning left-handed hitters Brandon Belt, Nate Schierholtz and Brandon Crawford to the lineup in an effort to counter Nolasco.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.