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Giants stick with same roster for NLCS

Giants stick with same roster for NLCS

PHILADELPHIA -- The Giants announced their 25-man roster for the National League Championship Series against the Phillies, which opens Saturday in Citizens Bank Park at 4:30 p.m. PT. And it is the same as the one they utilized for the opening round.

"We really had a tough time on a couple of calls," manager Bruce Bochy said, noting that he and the club's braintrust seriously considered adding another left-handed pitcher -- either Barry Zito or Dan Runzler.

Outfielder Aaron Rowand stayed on the roster, as the Giants' decision-makers didn't feel compelled to change the contingent of position players. Since a left-hander wasn't added to help offset Philadelphia's formidable core of left-handed hitters, right-hander Guillermo Mota remains the seventh relief pitcher.

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"He's been through it," Bochy said when asked why the club is again carrying Rowand, a righty swinger and former member of the Phillies. "He's not the guy we just put in there against lefties. He can handle right-handed pitchers. He's played in this park. He knows what it's going to be about. He can help out the other players.

"He gives me flexibility if I want to double switch and keep a pitcher out there, I could put him out in the outfield and be comfortable with that. So he gives us some options, which I do like."

Rowand had two pinch-hit appearances and a single in the Giants' four-game victory over Atlanta in the NL Division Series. During the regular season, he batted .230 with 11 homers and 34 RBIs in 105 games, losing his starting job in center field to Andres Torres.

Like the NLDS, the Giants are carrying 11 pitchers and 14 position players.

The position players include the same seven infielders, five outfielders and two catchers. The Giants had mulled the possibility of adding speedster Darren Ford in place of Rowand. Ford was hitless in seven regular-season at-bats and would have only been used as a late-inning pinch-runner. Instead, they went with Rowand's bat.

"A lot of people don't get a chance to go to the postseason," said Rowand, who signed with the Giants as a free agent after the 2007 season and missed a run of Phillies success that includes the '08 World Series championship. "Being able to be part of the postseason is exciting, so you have to live in the moment and enjoy it while you have it. This could be the last time I go to the postseason in my career. Who knows?"

Zito was again the odd man out on the pitching staff with Bochy already having designated rookie Madison Bumgarner as his Game 4 starter Wednesday in San Francisco.

"By process of deduction, that seems to be the way it's going," said Zito, who earned $18.5 million this year and was the team's highest-paid player. "The last week's been challenging, but I'm just trying to be a good teammate and help the guys as much as I can."

The Giants opted to keep Mota, who was on the NLDS roster, but didn't face a batter, rather than add another left-hander. Their choices were Dan Runzler or Zito against a Phillies lineup that is dominated by left-handed power hitters Chase Utley, Ryan Howard and Raul Ibanez.

Runzler appeared in 41 games for the Giants this season -- all in relief -- and was 3-0 with a 3.30 ERA. He injured a knee in July and has only been used five times since he was reinstated from the disabled list and pitched again on Sept. 8.

"I'm just happy to be under consideration all this time," Runzler said on Friday before the decision was announced. "I know it's a tough decision. Whatever it comes down to, I know it's going to help the team. Whether it's with me or without me, I'm still pulling for the team."

Zito, in contrast, was 9-14 in 33 starts with a 4.15 ERA, but his effectiveness severely curtailed toward the end of the season as the Giants lost nine of his last 10 starts.

Giants pitching coach Dave Righetti said he feels Zito's pain as a once-dominant pitcher and Cy Young Award winner who no longer seems be able to get the job done on a consistent basis. Zito signed a seven-year, $126 million contract prior to the 2007 season. He starred for the A's and started seven postseason games for them, recording a 4-3 record and 3.25 ERA.

"He's been pretty classy about things," Righetti said. "Competitively, I'm sure he's hurting. He was masterful throughout the year until the very end, until the last month or so. Otherwise he was dynamite. Best since he's been with us."

Barry M. Bloom is national reporter for MLB.com and writes an MLBlog, Boomskie on Baseball. Follow @boomskie on Twitter. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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