MLB

Mike Kickham optioned back to Triple-A after debut

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SAN FRANCISCO (AP)

The San Francisco Giants optioned left-hander Mike Kickham back to Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday, a day after he made his major league debut against the Oakland Athletics.

Kickham pitched 2 1-3 innings Tuesday in a 6-3 loss to the A's in the Bay Bridge Series. San Francisco purchased the contract of right-handed reliever Ramon Ramirez from Fresno and added him to the 25-man roster, and he was available Wednesday night.

''It is what it is, obviously I wish I would have done better,'' Kickham said while packing up his locker. ''I'll learn from it, move on, and when I get back down there I'll share my experience and have some advice for my teammates there in Fresno. It was a great experience, though, and hopefully I'll get back up here soon and help the team win.''

Manager Bruce Bochy said right-hander Chad Gaudin is ''likely'' to start Sunday at St. Louis in the spot Kickham filled as the replacement to right-hander Ryan Vogelsong, who broke his pitching hand last week and underwent surgery that is expected to sideline him for two months.

While Bochy had said it was hard to use Gaudin in a starting role because of his versatility out of the bullpen, the Giants need him to make a spot start. On Tuesday night in Oakland, he pitched three innings of relief.

Having an off day Monday helps Bochy feel more comfortable about using a long reliever to start Sunday.

''A guy like Chad is invaluable for a club,'' Bochy said. ''And for me to have a guy like this who I can use anywhere. Yesterday we needed some innings, and he was the one guy who could do it. He's pitched late in the game and last week helped get big outs in tight ballgames, and now we need a starter. He has experience as a starter. It's pretty nice to have a guy who's versatile like Chad and can do a lot of things for you.''

The Giants have some flexibility with three upcoming off days. They don't need a fifth starter again until mid-June, so Bochy might opt to give some of his struggling starters an extra day off between outings. And, he figures Kickham will return.

''He'll be back up here at some point,'' Bochy said. ''I thought the kid showed great stuff. His first start, he had a lot going on. I like the stuff that he showed, I do. ... He'll get better, he'll learn from that. Without question, he'll be up here at some point probably helping us.''

The reigning World Series champions cleared a spot on the 40-man roster for Ramirez by transferring infielder Tony Abreu to the 60-day disabled list. He is on a rehab assignment with Fresno as he works back from a sprained left knee. He also was slowed by a quadriceps injury this spring after being claimed off waivers from Kansas City in early February before spring training.

The 31-year-old Ramirez, a member of the 2010 World Series title team before getting re-signed to a minor league deal in February, made 20 appearances with Fresno, posting a 3.46 ERA with 31 strikeouts.

''He's been here before and helped us in 2010,'' Bochy said. ''He's been throwing the ball well down in Fresno. It's good to see him. I know he's excited about being here. It's nice to have some depth down on your farm club that can come up here, especially a guy like him who has experience pitching late in the ballgame.''

Giants center fielder and leadoff hitter Angel Pagan missed his fourth straight game as he nurses an injured left hamstring, which he hurt Saturday before hitting his game-winning, inside-the-park home run in the 10th inning of a 6-5 win over the Colorado Rockies. Pagan was scheduled to receive a cortisone injection and the hope is still that he will avoid a trip to the disabled list.

Tagged: Giants, Chad Gaudin, Ramon Ramirez

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