Notes: Alfonzo nears return

Notes: Alfonzo nears return

SAN FRANCISCO -- While the Giants have been battling to get above .500, backup catcher Eliezer Alfonzo has been battling to get back in the lineup down in Arizona, and he's getting close.

Manager Bruce Bochy said Alfonzo is feeling good and swinging the bat well. Alfonzo, who tore his posterior cruciate ligament in June, is batting .462 with five RBIs after five rehab games with the Arizona Giants. He was eligible to come off the 60-day disabled list on Wednesday, and pretty soon the Giants will have more catchers available than they have room for.

Backup catcher Guillermo Rodriguez has been filling in seamlessly behind the plate in Alfonzo's absence.

"I think he's gotten better and better. I like the way he's handled the pitching staff," Bochy said.

Rodriguez was in the starting lineup Thursday and will probably be getting an increasing number of chances to prove himself in the next month. Entering Thursday, Rodriguez's batting average of .238 wasn't that impressive, but his 10 RBIs and 7-for-12 performance in the clutch are. He added another RBI when he lined a single to left in his first at-bat Thursday.

Bochy did not say what the immediate plan is for either backup catcher, but come Sept. 1, the Giants may not have to say goodbye to either Alfonzo or Rodriguez. What we're seeing now could be an early competition for next year's backup catcher.

Round two for Misch: Another competition is brewing for the hole Matt Morris left in the starting rotation, which looks like it will go to either Patrick Misch or Russ Ortiz.

Each have served as both reliever and starter this season, and they will make back-to-back starts on Thursday and Friday. Misch was up first. Thursday marked his second consecutive start, after he allowed two runs in five innings in his starting debut.

"His first start, he gives up a leadoff homer, but he kept his composure, didn't get rattled and pitched well in traffic," Bochy said. "He really has a calmness about him we like."

Ortiz will make his first start on Friday in the place of Noah Lowry, who strained his throwing arm in his last start. But Lowry is expected to throw a bullpen session on Friday and be back in the rotation by Monday, leaving just one open spot that will likely go to Misch in the immediate future.

"We'll probably leave Patrick in the rotation for at least two or three more starts," Bochy said.

Roberts injured: Dave Roberts limped back into the dugout in the first inning after sliding into the catcher on an attempted double steal. Roberts was taken out and replaced by Kevin Frandsen before the second. When Frandsen took over in left field, it was the fourth position he has played in the past four games. Rajai Davis moved to center field.

Little Giants: Fred Lewis, who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on Tuesday, hit an inside-the-park home run and went 2-for-3 on Wednesday as the Grizzlies shut out the New Orleans Zephyrs, 7-0.

Select company: Bochy's win on Wednesday made him the 55th manager in Major League history to register 1,000 wins. Bochy said he had hoped to reach that mark last month, but despite the losing season, Bochy is still sixth in wins among active managers. The fact that Bochy was born in Landes de Bussac, France, puts him in even more select company as he is just the third foreign-born manager to reach 1,000 wins. His predecessor, Felipe Alou from the Dominican Republic, was another (1,033).

On deck: The Pirates are cruising into town for a three-game series on Friday, and former Giants starter Matt Morris will be leading the crew. He will be opposed by Ortiz in the 7:15 p.m. PT contest.

Becky Regan is an associate reporter for This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.