Pill, Kieschnick to join Giants in Philadelphia
Pair to be called up from Triple-A Fresno in time for series opener
WASHINGTON -- Intent on improving their struggling offense, the Giants will begin considering more in-house alternatives with Tuesday's recall of first baseman Brett Pill and outfielder Roger Kieschnick from the Triple-A Fresno Grizzlies.
Pill and Kieschnick are expected to meet the club in Philadelphia for the series opener when the Giants begin a three-game series against the Phillies. To create room for the pair on the 25-man roster, the Giants optioned utilityman Kensuke Tanaka to Fresno and placed infielder Tony Abreu on the 15-day disabled list with left knee bursitis. Abreu endured lingering left knee problems during Spring Training.
Whether the pair's impending arrival sets up a trade remains to be seen. Though rumors of a deal involving right fielder Hunter Pence persist as Wednesday's 1 p.m. PT non-waiver Trade Deadline approaches, most speculation has swirled around left-handed reliever Javier Lopez, who's coveted by Cleveland and possibly Detroit, among other teams.
The Giants, who have scored three runs or fewer in eight of their past 10 games while falling to last place in the National League West, would welcome production from Pill or Kieschnick that merely approaches their Minor League numbers.
Pill, 28, has spent parts of three consecutive seasons with San Francisco. In 77 games with the Giants, he owns a batting .225 average with seven home runs and 23 RBIs. That includes a .148 average (4-for-27) with one homer and three RBIs in 14 games this year for the reigning World Series champions.
The right-handed-batting Pill thrived this year in Fresno, batting .344 with 48 runs, 18 homers, 79 RBIs and a 1.010 OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage) in 68 games.
Pill has played 65 games at first base and three at third base for Fresno, which could cast the status of Brandon Belt, San Francisco's primary first baseman, into doubt. Pill also has started eight Major League games in left field, a position that has generated little offense for the Giants this year.
Kieschnick, who never has played in the Majors, hit .273 with 13 homers and 56 RBIs in 101 games for Fresno. The 26-year-old awakened the Giants last year by batting .306 with 15 homers and 40 RBIs in just 55 games with Fresno. Kieschnick, San Francisco's third-round selection in the 2008 First-Year Player Draft, cooled off slightly this year by hitting .273 with 13 homers and 56 RBIs in 101 games with Fresno. Until now, Giants insiders have claimed that the left-handed batter wasn't quite ready for the Major Leagues.
As with Pill, finding a position for Kieschnick could be an issue. He has played primarily right field, which won't do much to silence trade rumors involving Pence. If Pence remains a Giant past Wednesday, Kieschnick might receive an opportunity to play left.
The possibility exists that the Giants summoned Pill and Kieschnick to fortify their bench, which has been found lacking. But it's unlikely that an inexperienced performer such as Kieschnick would join the team just to sit idly.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.