Winn receives good injury news after brief elbow scare

Winn receives good injury news after brief elbow scare originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Whenever a young pitcher feels something in his elbow, it's a scary moment. When it happens for the second time in less than a year, alarms start blaring.

But Keaton Winn got a clean bill of health on Saturday when he met with a team doctor regarding his recent elbow soreness and the Giants cleared him to start a throwing program on Monday. Winn, the likely No. 4 starter, was set back by the time off, but he thinks he'll still be able to get up to 70-80 pitches before the end of camp. That could set him up to start the year in the rotation.

"I kind of expected it," he said of the news, "But it's still good to hear."

Winn also was shut down late last summer but he said the issue was different this time. Last year it was inflammation, while this week he has dealt with nerve discomfort that cleared up pretty quickly.

"I was glad to hear that," manager Bob Melvin said. "We thought it was minor, but you never know these days."

Melvin has been coy about the order of his rotation, but there have been some hints the first time through. Kyle Harrison is lined up as the No. 2 starter, with Mason Black going on Monday and Jordan Hicks making his Giants debut on Tuesday. Black finished last season in Triple-A and is one of several prospects in camp who could fill innings early in the season. The staff feels the 24-year-old right-hander is just about ready for his big league debut.

Jorge Soler should be in the lineup on Monday behind Black. Jung Hoo Lee (side soreness) remains on track to make his Giants debut on Tuesday.

Familiar Faces

On Saturday morning, there were over 100 years of professional baseball experience leaning on the cage during batting practice. Dusty Baker is in camp for a few days and he spent time chatting with Ron Wotus and Pat Burrell as young hitters came up for advice.

Melvin, a former Giant himself, views it as crucial to have a connection to past Giants teams, and he said Will Clark will be next to stop by. Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Barry Bonds also are on the schedule, and the hope is that Jeffrey Leonard visits camp, too. Melvin said Bonds will be around in mid-March.

"I think he has extended his (original) stay here," he said. "I have some projects for him."

Not Quite Rivals

Before Sunday's game in Surprise, Bruce Bochy was inducted into the Cactus League Hall of Fame (yes, there is a Cactus League Hall of Fame). Melvin, Wotus and Burrell were among the Giants who watched from the top step.

Melvin and Bochy have been squaring off for years and they were the Bay Area managers for nine consecutive seasons before Bochy stepped away. Melvin said they have a "really good" relationship and never got into the rivalry aspect of Giants vs. A's.

"We've been known to swap a bottle of wine or two," he said. "I don't have anything for him today. He won a World Series, he can give me one now."

Lighting It Up

Right-handed prospect Hayden Birdsong was the only Giants pitcher to have a scoreless inning in Saturday's spring opener. Birdsong struck out a pair and showed off his firm fastball while pitching the seventh inning:

Birdsong hit 98 mph, matching his personal best. There was some joking in the clubhouse about not peaking too early, but it's easy velocity and it might get Birdsong to the big leagues this season. The 22-year-old struggled in eight starts in Double-A last summer but had a 3.31 ERA overall in his first professional season, striking out 149 in 100 2/3 innings across three levels.

A sixth-round pick in 2022, Birdsong has been an under-the-radar favorite of a lot of Giants people since he got drafted. The spring debut certainly showed why the Giants think he has a chance to contribute pretty quickly.

Download and follow the Giants Talk Podcast