Notes: Seeking a starter

Notes: Seeking a starter

SAN FRANCISCO -- Who will pitch the opening game of the Giants' four-game series against the Houston Astros at Minute Maid Park starting Thursday night hasn't been determined.

That was to be Jason Schmidt's next outing, but the right-hander went on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a mild shoulder strain.

While there was much speculation that Triple-A Fresno hurler Brad Hennessey would make the spot start, the right-hander was also scheduled to pitch for the Grizzlies at Fresno vs. New Orleans on Wednesday night.

When asked if Hennessey would fly to Houston on Wednesday with the Giants, manager Felipe Alou quipped, "We don't know how many seats we'll have."

Alou did eliminate some other pitching possibilities, including Jerome Williams and Jesse Foppert -- the former still struggling in Fresno after a poor outing last Sunday. Foppert isn't on the radar screen, either.

OK. What about Merkin Valdez? Nope.

"We don't want to disrupt him now," said Alou. "He's really pitching well and we'd like to give him more time, like Matt Cain. We think Merkin will age like fine wine."

Premier college closer David Aardsma is starting at Double-A Norwich and learning how to pitch, but eventually will become a closer. A bigger problem is who will be the Giants' closer for the time being. Alou had eyed Jim Brower initially, but the right-hander hasn't pitched well lately .

With closer Armando Benitez sidelined for a minimum of four months, Alou needs to settle on one man, and strongman Tyler Walker is a possible choice.

"Tyler is fearless and an imposing figure on the mound," said Alou.

Fassero update: After Jeff Fassero's excellent outing in Tuesday night's game -- five innings of one-hit, shutout ball -- Alou believes the 42-year-old left-hander may stay in the rotation for a while.

"I'd like to keep Fassero starting," said Alou. "He pitched very well after two days off and he's always ready to make a start. He's a wild-card guy. Right now, we're not making any promises or announcements, but obviously, if we need him to start or [make] a number of starts, he'll be able and glad to do it."

If that occurs, Fassero would skip bullpen assignments.

Alou recalled that last season Fassero pitched fairly well for Colorado at SBC Park and seems to thrive in the Bay Area conditions.

"He likes the weather, the field and the mound," said Alou. "You like to see a guy who pitches well at home."

Pena resigns: Alou's long-time friend and fellow Dominican Republic native Tony Pena has quit the managerial job at Kansas City, which surprises Alou.

"I don't expect anybody else thought Kansas City would win it," said Alou. "They have a lot of young guys there. I'd like to talk to him. It [would be] good to hear what happened."

Entering Wednesday's play, the Royals were 8-25 -- worst in baseball -- and last in the American League Central.

Snow still sick: First baseman J.T. Snow, suffering from a stomach virus, had sat out the past two games against Pittsburgh and was expected to be OK for Wednesday's contest but was still under the weather.

"I didn't have any plans to play him [Wednesday]," said Alou. "He was feeling a little better [Tuesday], then it got worse."

On deck: Hennessey is the likely choice to face Houston in the first of a four-game series Thursday at Minute Maid Park, although it still hasn't been decided for sure. The right-hander topped Pittsburgh, 8-3, in a spot start May 1 at PNC Park, allowing only three runs over seven frames. Hennessey won two games for the Giants last season over seven starts.

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