CINCINNATI -- To no great surprise, the Giants assigned Mike Kickham to a long-relief role Tuesday, a day after the Cincinnati Reds roughed him up for seven runs and nine hits in 2 1/3 innings.
Moving Kickham to the bullpen simplified Chad Gaudin's impending return to the starting rotation. Gaudin, who hasn't pitched since he sustained a bruise on his throwing elbow on June 20, is expected to rejoin the rotation when he's reinstated from the disabled list Friday or shortly afterward.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy believes that Kickham, 0-3 with a 13.94 ERA in three big league starts, can develop just as well facing Major League hitters instead of pitching regularly against Minor Leaguers.
"Right now, we think he's our best [long-relief] option," Bochy said. "That's why he's staying here."
Bochy noted that a handful of successful starters experienced stints as long relievers early in their careers, which influenced the Giants' decision.
A lack of stuff wasn't Kickham's problem against the Reds. But he threw too many hittable strikes after a perfect first inning. The Reds capitalized by swinging at pitches early in the count. Kickham followed the same pattern in his previous two starts.
"He had trouble getting the ball down in the stretch and he was in the 'nitro zone' too much," Bochy said.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.