Giants bid farewell to Herges

Giants bid farewell to reliever Herges

SAN FRANCISCO -- There were the usual hugs, pats on the back and heartfelt goodbyes from teammates for Giants right-handed pitcher Matt Herges on Sunday after the veteran was designated for assignment.

With the arrival of setup specialist LaTroy Hawkins -- who was acquired Saturday from the Chicago Cubs for Minor League hurlers Jerome Williams and David Aardsma -- the club has begun a retooling of the bullpen, and Herges proved the odd man out.

Other moves probably can be expected, either internally or externally, to solidify the relief corps and bolster a current weak spot -- hitting against right-handed hitters.

Herges was surprisingly upbeat about the move, but it was still a sad day for many of his Giants buddies.

"Really, the only thing on my mind is, I'm grateful to the Giants, and by doing this for me, they're basically opening another door," said Herges, 35, a solid setup man in 2003 when he was traded from the San Diego Padres and a dutiful closer half of last season.

"To be honest with you, I'm excited -- I'm not done pitching," said Herges, 1-1 with a 4.71 ERA over 21 games this year. "I expected this. My wife [Jane] and I went to dinner last night, and I told her I'd probably call this morning and say, 'I'm not a Giant anymore.'"

Giants general manager Brian Sabean said Sunday, "We can cover what his innings would have been with somebody else ... while we try and stabilize" relief roles, which were shaken up when closer Armando Benitez tore his hamstrings in late April.

With Herges designated for assignment rather than released outright, the pitcher has a chance within 10 days to be acquired by another team through a trade, on waivers or by free agency.

Sabean said he's discussing Herges' opportunities with other clubs and that it's likely a team will pay a portion of the hurler's $1.5 million salary for 2005.

"We remember how game he was in taking the ball and how competitive he was," said Sabean.

It appears Jim Brower will return to a role he succeeded in originally as a long reliever, with specific pitchers coming in if the Giants are ahead or behind in certain frames.

New players are expected to join the team sooner rather than later.

"We need to make this more definitive," said Sabean. "The next moves could be within our organization. We have some guys down in Triple-A that are knocking on the door of being able to help us."

Sabean reiterated that the team is below .500 against right-handed pitchers and desperately needs to acquire a strong left-handed batter.

"Some of that is Barry [Bonds] still being out, and some is [J.T.] Snow trying to find his swing after coming off the DL. In a perfect world, a left-handed bat is something we need in the lineup. Somebody already in the lineup could provide that."

Fresno standout Todd Linden, a switch-hitter, is having an outstanding season, particularly from the left side, and is among Pacific Coast League leaders in homers, average and RBIs.

The 24-year-old will not be brought up soon, however, as Sabean said it's best for Linden to keep improving as a ballplayer in the Minors. "We want him as an everyday player," Sabean said.

On deck: Giants right-hander Brett Tomko makes his 11th start of the season Tuesday night in Philadelphia. He's 3-3 with a 3.14 ERA over his past six starts and has thrown two complete games. Against the Phillies, Tomko is 4-2 lifetime.

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