PHILADELPHIA – Christian Arroyo knew the deal. He understood that he wouldn’t remain in the major leagues for much longer.
Being prepared for a demotion didn’t reduce his disappointment upon receiving it Sunday morning.
The Giants activated Hunter Pence from the 10-day disabled list and optioned Arroyo, who delivered a huge victory with a bases-clearing double in New York but hit .192 in 34 games.
Arroyo said he had always heard that the toughest jumps are to go from A-ball to Double-A, and to go from Triple-A to the big leagues.
“But you never really understand what that means until you’re there,” he said. “It was good to get here and be exposed to the best arms in the game, and understand what it means to be here.”
Arroyo, who turned 22 on Tuesday, arrived ahead of schedule. He compelled the Giants to call him up after hitting .446 with three home runs in his first 16 games for Sacramento. He had 10 hits in his first nine games, including his first against Clayton Kershaw and a two-run shot off Sergio Romo that started the Giants’ comeback in their most pulsating victory of the season.
Then came the three-run double off the Mets’ Jeurys Familia as the Giants authored their first ninth-inning comeback victory in exactly one year.
“He was a shot in the arm for us and he got some big hits,” Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. “I loved his defense and how he handled (slumping). He still played solid defense wherever we put him – third, short, even second base.
“This was a great experience for him. He’s ahead of the curve already, not even a full year at Triple-A. That’s why he’s going back down. We want to continue his progress toward becoming an everyday player.”
Arroyo has just two hits in his last 28 at-bats and he hit .162 against right-handed pitching, and tried to swing his way out of his slump to his detriment. He drew just eight walks, and his on-base percentage languished at .244.
Bochy has remarked that he not notice pitchers exploiting any specific hole in Arroyo’s swing.
“I think my quote-unquote hole would just be my aggressiveness,” Arroyo said. “When I’m going good, I’m selective-aggressive. … I’ve got to work on my patience. I got swing happy and started putting pressure on myself, which I didn’t need to do.”
Bochy met with Arroyo earlier in the week to let him know that he likely would get shuffled off the roster. Arroyo didn’t travel on the team flight to Philadelphia, instead told to report to the airport where he would be told whether to board a later flight to meet the team or another to join Sacramento at Albuquerque. When the Giants got word that Hunter Strickland’s suspension appeal hearing was not imminent, they opted to keep Arroyo instead of calling up right-hander Chris Stratton.
But Arroyo knew the team would need another roster spot as soon as Pence was deemed ready to return from his strained left hamstring.
Arroyo will board another flight back to San Francisco, and then meet the River Cats in Sacramento on Monday.
As for Pence, he is available off the bench as the Giants try for a series victory against the Phillies, but Bochy did not want to put him in the lineup for a day game on the East Coast.
Pence said his left hamstring is ready to go, and although the recovery was “a little more complicated” than he had hoped, he considered it the right decision to take a step back and let it heal.
Pence also said he was impressed with the young outfielders he played with during his three games for Single-A San Jose — he even took part in early work with them – and Bryan Reynolds, last year’s top pick, stood out.
“He had a great approach at the plate, and also a solid mindset,” Pence said. “Jut a good kid, too – really good kid.”
Conor Gillaspie (lower back) went 1 for 3 with a single as he restarted a rehab assignment for San Jose on Saturday. But with his wife about to go into labor, he won’t be activated in time to join the Giants for their four-game series at Milwaukee.
That’s unfortunate. The Brewers have an all right-handed staff, and if all the Giants’ left-handed regulars start, they will arrive with an all right-handed bench.
Lineups as the Phillies try to snap a streak of 10 consecutive series losses: