Zito returns to Giants' rotation

Zito returns to Giants' rotation

PITTSBURGH -- Barry Zito's move to the bullpen proved to be largely uneventful. Next, he and the Giants will learn whether it was effective.

On Tuesday, Giants manager Bruce Bochy named Zito to start Wednesday against the Pittsburgh Pirates, meaning that the left-hander missed only one start between rotation assignments.

The Giants demoted Zito, who's 0-6 with a 7.53 ERA, to the bullpen one day after he allowed eight runs in three innings against Cincinnati on April 27. But after throwing 66 pitches in that game, he wasn't physically able to pitch in relief until this past weekend in Philadelphia, where the opportunity to use the left-hander never presented itself in three one-run decisions.

Zito maintained that he accomplished what he wanted -- regaining the assertiveness to improve his pitch location -- by throwing twice in the bullpen.

"It has to do with being aggressive in the strike zone," Zito said. "The game's obviously mental and if you're not in an aggressive mind-set, then you're going to nitpick and that's what gets guys in trouble. That's what got me in trouble."

Bochy insisted that Zito's idle relief stint wasn't a waste of time.

"Because we had a chance to do some stuff on the side," he said.

The timing of the announcement was intriguing, since the Giants didn't need to reinsert a fifth starter into the rotation until Saturday. Bochy said that returning Zito to the rotation Wednesday was not intended at the time of the pitcher's demotion. Zito said that he heard hints of this plan Sunday but wasn't officially told until Tuesday.

"I think it was good to take a step back and get objective on some things," Zito said. "I'm really excited to get out there and bring those adjustments over here."

The switch caused the Giants to shuffle the rest of their rotation slightly, which Bochy favored because he wanted to separate the two hard-throwing right-handers, Matt Cain and Tim Lincecum. Cain remains scheduled to pitch Thursday, although Pat Misch, originally set to pitch Wednesday, will instead start Friday at home against Philadelphia. Lincecum, initially Friday's starter, will pitch Saturday.

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