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Conner Menez’s stock rises, another pitcher’s falls in Giants scrimmage



Kelley L Cox-USA TODAY Sports

A few wild-card contenders to eat up Giants innings got the start in Monday’s intrasquad scrimmage. They were on opposite sides and are trending in opposite directions.

Conner Menez was perfect, six batters faced and six put away, striking out three and making it look easy. It looked more difficult for Dereck Rodriguez, who faced nine batters and walked three while recording just three outs. Rodriguez’s opposing batters were harder to navigate — Joey Bart’s roped single to left field scored a run — but Gabe Kapler admitted the righty has been “a little bit up and down” both in February/March camp and in July’s.

“Toward the end of our [first] spring training camp he was really coming on strong and showing well,” Kapler said of the 28-year-old, who may not possess the raw stuff this regime wants. “Right now I think he’s wrestling to find his command, I think he’s wrestling to find his best stuff. And we’re going to continue to work with him to bring the best out of him.”

The staff has been more effective with Menez, the 25-year-old lefty who rocketed through the system last year but did not see immediate big-league success. Menez looked comfortable in his pair of innings, painting the corner with two outside fastballs that went for strikeouts. Facing all righties (or switch-hitters) in Joey Rickard, Donovan Solano, Jaylin Davis, Zach Green, Tyler Heineman and Abiatal Avelino, Menez cruised.

Menez was among the first wave of cuts in early March, demoted from major league camp after two poor Cactus League appearances. Kapler said the inconsistency followed him to this camp, a “rough” first bullpen session boding poorly. But he worked with pitching coaches Andrew Bailey and Ethan Katz, who did some tweaking.

“They worked on a minor adjustment with his arm action, and since then things have really cleaned up,” Kapler said of Menez, who could emerge as a bulk-innings option. “The velocity has been strong and the location of his pitches has been better. You can tell that his mentality is aggressive on the mound.”

Other pitching notes from a younger day on the mound:

Tyler Cyr, the 27-year-old righty, took an Heliot Ramos comebacker off his knee and hobbled his way out of the scrimmage. Kapler said it was knee contusion and Cyr will be day-to-day. Cyr did not take any anger out on Ramos:

Trevor Cahill has a fingernail issue, Kapler said. He threw Monday and “we’ll see how he is tomorrow.”

Kapler was pleased with the way new-pool-additions Caleb Barager and Sam Wolff threw in their camp scrimmage debuts.

Barager, a 26-year-old lefty who spent most of last season at Double-A Richmond, has a herky-jerky, straight-over-the top delivery.

“Barager in particular really attacked the strike zone,” Kapler said. “Came out and showed no signs of being nervous or intimidated and had some pretty impressive carry through the zone on his fastball.”

Tony Watson is “on track” to be ready for July 23’s Opening Day, Kapler said. The lefty, who had a tight shoulder in camp 1.0, is being built up slowly and needs to throw one more live bullpen session before entering a scrimmage.

“There’s no reason in my mind he can’t pitch in our opening series,” Kapler said.

The Giants will be sifting through all these relievers, willing to give any inning to anyone who emerges, because, “We don’t really have the personnel with the track record where we can just slot guys into roles,” Kapler said, accurately.

Watson and Trevor Gott have experience and the staff is highest on Tyler Rogers. Beyond that will be guess-and-check.