Notes: Regular lineup eluding Bochy

Notes: Regular lineup eluding Bochy

MESA, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy could be excused for feeling envious Friday as he stared at the Chicago Cubs.

Losing key players briefly to nagging injuries and excusing veterans from four-hour Tucson round trips have prevented Bochy from using his projected Opening Day lineup for most of the Cactus League season. Last Sunday, Barry Bonds was the only regular not to start against Kansas City, but that marked the only time since March 15 that Bochy has had as many as seven starters in the lineup.

By contrast, the Cubs used every regular except shortstop Cesar Izturis in their 6-2 exhibition victory over the Giants at HoHoKam Park. Bochy longs for the day when he can field that kind of team.

"It'll be nice to see them all out there," said Bochy, who was without center fielder Dave Roberts (sprained joint near chest), first baseman Rich Aurilia (strained groin), second baseman Ray Durham (tight right hamstring) and Bonds (rest).

Bochy expressed hopes that Durham can rejoin the lineup Saturday against the Cubs in Scottsdale. Bonds also is likely to play. Roberts might need an additional day to rest, and Aurilia is expected to be sidelined until the end of next week.

Bochy added that he hopes to use more of his regulars together by the time the Giants finish Cactus League play next Wednesday. After that, they'll play four exhibitions in the Bay Area, March 29-April 1, that should enable the starters to acclimate to each other.

Lowry labors: Noah Lowry worked a spring-high five innings but allowed five runs and seven hits. Mark DeRosa's RBI single and Ronny Cedeno's three-run homer fueled Chicago's four-run second inning that ruined Lowry's afternoon shortly after it began.

But Bochy took heart in Lowry's final inning, which featured Jacque Jones' strikeout and DeRosa's double-play grounder. Before that, Bochy noticed that Lowry was struggling with his release point, accounting for his shaky performance.

"For him to find it there in the last inning was encouraging," Bochy said. "I really felt he figured out a lot today."

Seeking answers: The relievers' erratic performances haven't helped Bochy's efforts to select bullpen personnel.

Spring Training
News and features:
• Cain's feeling good:  350K
• Linden's dream comes true:  350K
• Zito's ready to go:  350K
• Vizquel on importance of camp:  350K
• Aurilia feels good to be back:  350K
• Bonds' adventures in LF:  350K
Spring Training info: coverage  |  Schedule  |  Ballpark  |  Tickets

Against the Cubs, for example, Brad Hennessey looked mostly sharp in two innings, despite yielding Aramis Ramirez's two-out home run in the seventh. That clashed with last Saturday, when Hennessey allowed Colorado eight runs in three innings. And in his outing before that, he surrendered just one run to Oakland in four innings.

Jonathan Sanchez, who entered the game with a 10.50 ERA and had been scored upon in all four of his previous appearances, pitched a scoreless eighth that featured a strikeout of Alfonso Soriano with two runners aboard.

"You'd like for somebody to step up and be consistent every time out," Bochy said. "That's why this is going down to the wire. There's nothing etched in stone."

Making a name: As one of five non-roster pitchers remaining in camp, Scott Atchison has, at the very least, aligned himself for a promotion to the Majors during the season. That's assuming his long-shot bid to make the season-opening bullpen doesn't reach fruition.

"Coming into camp as a non-roster guy, there's probably not a great chance you're going to make the team," Atchison said. "But you want to put into their minds, 'This guy can get the job done, too, if we need somebody later.'"

Atchison, who has a 2.89 ERA in four appearances, has the aptitude to pitch long relief, having logged a pair of three-inning stints this spring.

The 31-year-old right-hander relies largely on guile, resorting to a curveball as his primary "out" pitch.

"I don't feel like my stuff has gotten that much better, but I've gotten more consistent with it," Atchison said. "With age, the more reps you do, that should be the case."

Atchison was on the brink of establishing himself in the Majors in 2004, when he finished 2-3 with a 3.52 ERA in 25 games with Seattle. But he strained his forearm early in the following season and made it back to the Mariners for only six appearances. The Mariners declined to retain him after he spent last season, his eighth in the organization, at Triple-A Tacoma. Early-season trouble with bone chips in his elbow limited Atchison to 30 outings, although he finished 4-0 with a 2.34 ERA.

"I'm close to the way I felt a couple of years ago before the elbow stuff," Atchison said.

Coming up: After resting Friday, Bonds is expected to return to the Giants' lineup Saturday against the Chicago Cubs in Scottsdale. Left-hander Barry Zito is scheduled to make his final Cactus League start for the Giants against Cubs right-hander Wade Miller.

Chris Haft is a reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.