SAN DIEGO -- Among the flurry of roster moves the Giants made Saturday to accommodate outfielder Jeff Francoeur and right-hander Santiago Casilla, one prompted surprise: Right-hander Chris Heston being designated for assignment.
The Giants needed to remove a player from the 40-man roster to create space for Francoeur, who signed a Minor League contract last Tuesday. That player was Heston, who's ranked eighth on MLB.com's list of Giants prospects.
Heston won ERA titles in 2011 with Class A San Jose and last year with Double-A Richmond while posting an aggregate 21-12 record. He displayed admirable command during that span, striking out 266 and walking 80. This year, however, Heston has struggled with Triple-A Fresno, posting a 7-6 record with a 5.80 ERA, 97 strikeouts and 46 walks in 108 2/3 innings. His WHIP is an inflated 1.61.
When the Giants needed to summon a starter from the Minors to replace injured right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, they selected left-hander Mike Kickham, not Heston.
A closer look at the non-Major Leaguers on the 40-man roster indicated that Heston was the most logical choice to place in limbo -- players designated for assignment have 10 days to wait for a trade, be released, or clear waivers to sign as a free agent.
"That's a good problem to have," Giants vice president and assistant general manager Bobby Evans said. "You don't have easy choices."
Shortstop Ehire Adrianza possesses above-average defensive skills. Left-hander Edwin Escobar is one of the organization's fastest-rising prospects. First baseman Angel Villalona wields impressive power. First baseman Brett Pill continues to crush the ball for Fresno (.345, 14 homers, 68 RBIs in 58 games).
The Giants also optioned right-hander Jean Machi and infielder Nick Noonan to Fresno, lengthening their season-long series of round trips between San Francisco and Fresno.
'Rejuvenated' Francoeur promoted by Giants
SAN DIEGO -- Jeff Francoeur couldn't stop smiling Saturday afternoon. And why not?
Francoeur, a nine-year veteran, was back in the big leagues, having had his contract purchased by the Giants four days after he signed a Minor League deal. His wife, Catie, will have labor induced Monday to give birth to the couple's first child, a girl. And Francoeur's playing for manager Bruce Bochy, who he compared to his first skipper, Bobby Cox -- known for being straightforward and fair with his players.
"I'm rejuvenated," said Francoeur, 29. "It's a good time in my life."
The right-handed-batting Francoeur won't initially occupy the everyday role with which he's familiar. Instead, he'll face opposing left-handed starters in a platoon. But Francoeur he knows that Bochy will give him chances to prove himself.
"If I hit, I'll play against some righties, too," Francoeur said. "But, that's up to me. That's something I have to take care of. I'm excited for the opportunity."
The Royals released Francoeur on July 5 after he hit .208 with three home runs and 13 RBIs in 59 games. That contrasted with his career average of .264. What happened?
"I don't know," said Francoeur, who spent his first 4 1/2 seasons with the Braves before migrating to the Mets, Rangers and Royals. "I think sometimes you can think too much. I do know that one thing I struggled with was I got off to a great start in April this year and May was just horrid."
Francoeur also mentioned that he admitted to Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens that he sometimes tries to listen to too much advice simultaneously, which causes him to think too much.
"You know as well as I do in this game that you can't do that, or you're not going to have success," Francoeur said.
No discomfort for Cain after bullpen session
SAN DIEGO -- Matt Cain, the Giants' struggling Opening Day starter, threw a bullpen session Saturday without apparent complications or physical discomfort. This development had more importance than usual.
Cain worked a total of three innings and allowed 11 runs in his last two starts. So, his ability to throw uneventfully, but crisply off a bullpen mound, encouraged manager Bruce Bochy.
"It gives you a sense of comfort with the fact that he felt really good," said Bochy, explaining that with the four-day All-Star break looming, Cain needed to throw off a mound to stay sharp.
Reds visit for traditional doubleheader on July 23
SAN DIEGO -- The Giants and Reds rescheduled their July 4 rain-induced postponement by scheduling a traditional doubleheader on Tuesday, July 23 at AT&T Park.
Since the Reds are losing a home date, they will be the home team and wear their home uniforms in the first game, which is slated to start at 4:05 p.m. PT. The Giants technically will be the road team and will don their gray uniforms.
The second game is scheduled to start at 7:15 p.m. at the earliest, or approximately 30 minutes after the first game's conclusion.
Tickets for the originally-scheduled July 23 game between the Giants and Reds will be good for both games. Limited tickets remain for the doubleheader and are available at sfgiants.com.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.