Ortiz won't assume anything."Nothing has been guaranteed to me, so I'm trying to do everything I can to put myself in the best position to make it an easy decision for them," he said. Once Ortiz officially arrives in the rotation, the Giants will be hard-pressed to label him the starter who's prone to being skipped following scheduled off-days if he keeps thriving. "I don't see why I can't have a very good year," said Ortiz, who has attributed his comeback to bringing his arm farther back as he prepares to throw. "I think I'm smarter than I was five or six years ago ... and I feel like I have the stuff that I've always had." Ortiz's stuff remained sharp against the Angels, although he surrendered two runs. He finished the first inning by retiring Vladimir Guerrero and Garret Anderson, the Angels' most formidable hitters. Ortiz lapsed briefly in the third, when a fastball veered back over the middle of the plate and Gary Matthews Jr. hammered it for a home run, and in the fourth, when a double-steal accounted for the Halos' second run. First baseman Rich Aurilia, Ortiz's teammate during his first stint in San Francisco, played behind the right-hander for the first time this spring and liked what he saw.
"The ball seems to have some life on it," Aurilia said. "It looks like he has some velocity back, also."Nobody seriously thinks that Cain (11.42 ERA) or Matt Morris (16.20) will continue to struggle during the regular season. Yet if somebody in the rotation faltered, a consistent Ortiz could climb in the pecking order. Or, if Ortiz stays the No. 5 starter all season, that'll probably reflect the Giants' depth. "I think the way things are set up now, he's not No. 5; he's in the fifth spot," Aurilia said, employing the logic that each day's starter is the No. 1 pitcher for that game. "That could be an advantage, matching him against somebody else's No. 5. If you can get a guy like Russ close to where he used to be and have him in the five spot, that's nothing but good things waiting to happen."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.Less