Giants sign righty reliever David Hernandez

Giants sign righty reliever David Hernandez

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The relative lack of experience in the Giants' bullpen was a significant factor that prompted the club to sign right-hander David Hernandez to a Minor League contract Tuesday.

Hernandez has made 379 appearances, all but 27 in relief, in seven Major League seasons. By contrast, four members of the Giants' projected bullpen -- Derek Law, Steven Okert, Josh Osich and Hunter Strickland -- each possesses less than two years of Major League service time.

"We do have a young bullpen," Giants general manager Bobby Evans said.

Added Hernandez: "I'd like to be a guy who can help the younger guys."

Giants manager Bruce Bochy indicated that Hernandez, 31, has a good chance of claiming that elder statesman role.

"He's definitely in the picture," Bochy said.

Hernandez missed the entire 2014 season after undergoing Tommy John surgery. He showed signs of his continuing recovery last year with Philadelphia. In his first full season since the surgery, he amassed 72 2/3 innings in 70 appearances and struck out 80 batters. He also issued 32 walks, an average of 4.0 per nine innings.

"I think it was the rust," Hernandez said. "I was just happy that my stuff was still there."

Hernandez ends the 8th

Hernandez managed to avoid the disabled list last year and made three two-inning appearances in the season's first month.

"I felt good. I felt strong," he said. "I know I can get guys out. I've done it. It's just a matter of being consistent with it."

Hernandez lives in Sacramento and has two young children, making San Francisco an attractive destination for him as a free agent. He and the Giants maintained contact through the offseason before he agreed to a deal that, according to an industry source, will pay him $1.5 million if he makes the Opening Day roster.

Hernandez recorded his best season in 2012, compiling a 2.50 ERA in 72 games and a 1.024 WHIP with 98 strikeouts in 68 1/3 innings for Arizona. He owns a career 28-39 record with a 4.10 ERA and 494 strikeouts in 487 innings.

MLB Network insider Ken Rosenthal initially reported the Giants' accord with Hernandez.

• Bochy hoped that right-hander Johnny Cueto, who's caring for his ailing father in the Dominican Republic, will arrive in camp toward the end of this week.

Asked if this complicates Cueto's preparations to play in the World Baseball Classic, Bochy said, "Johnny's smart and he knows what it takes to get ready. ... We can't take any unnecessary risks here, either."

Cueto was said to have been throwing on his own, Bochy added.

"My guess he's going to come in here in pretty good shape."

• A pair of pretty fair corner outfielders, Cody Ross and Ellis Burks, are in camp as guest instructors. Ross captured Most Valuable Player honors in San Francisco's 2010 National League Championship Series triumph over Philadelphia. Burks batted .312/.404/.568 with 60 home runs and 214 RBIs in 284 games for the Giants from 1998-2000.

• Bochy predicted a bright immediate future for Santiago Casilla, the former Giants closer who signed as a free agent with Oakland. "He'll have a good year," Bochy said. "He has great stuff. There's no doubt in my mind that he'll do well."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.