Zito left off Giants' playoff roster

October 7, 2010

The San Francisco Giants are sending $126 million to the sideline.

Struggling left-hander Barry Zito was left off the team's playoff roster Thursday for its best-of-five NL division series against the wild-card Atlanta Braves. Zito is making a team-high $18.5 million this year.

Manager Bruce Bochy told Zito on Wednesday he will not start, and Zito said he didn't know if he would be in the bullpen. The team announced the 25-man roster Thursday morning, and Zito wasn't among the 11 pitchers.

''Barry's such a good teammate and he's a standup guy,'' Bochy said before Thursday night's Game 1. ''We explained our situation and our starting situation. I think it's fair to say the other four are throwing a little bit better right now. We weren't going to go with five starters. Believe me, it's tough when you have a guy who's a big reason why you're here.''


Also left off: right fielder Jose Guillen, who batted .266 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 42 games for San Francisco, but has been dealing with some neck issues. The Giants acquired him from Kansas City in August and he made 38 starts in right.

''Really it came down to he wasn't quite 100 percent,'' Bochy said. ''It's tough for a player when they're trying to play and they're not quite 100 percent as far as health. His neck, he's had some issues there, he's had some pain there. I think it was affecting him.''

Cody Ross was in right for the series opener. Outfielders Aaron Rowand - who at $12 million is second-highest paid behind Zito this year - and Nate Schierholtz made the team. Schierholtz can play right field and adds speed as a possible pinch runner.

Rowand is a playoff veteran with good numbers against two of Atlanta's first three starters. He is batting .478 (11 for 23) against Game 1 starter Derek Lowe, and .381 (8 for 21) versus Game 3 starter Tim Hudson.

Bochy is going with ace Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez for the first three games. After that, he will decide between Lincecum and rookie Madison Bumgarner.

''My heart and soul is in this clubhouse,'' Zito said after Wednesday night's workout. ''I have no other options in myself than to pull for every one of these guys.''

Zito lost to the Padres on Saturday when San Francisco had a chance to clinch the NL West title. The Giants wound up doing it Sunday in their final game. Zito gave up consecutive bases-loaded walks in the first and was booed off the field when done after a season-low three innings.

Zito went 9-14 this season, failing to reach 10 wins for the first time since his rookie year in 2000. His 4.15 ERA is the fourth-highest of his career. He went 1-8 with a 6.66 ERA over his last 11 outings and only had one victory in his last 15 appearances. The stretch included a career-worst nine-game losing streak from July 21 to Sept. 14.

''He was great about it. He said: 'Hey, I understand. Right now I'm not throwing quite as well as the rest of them,''' Bochy said. ''He went out and took a 'pen right away. He's going to stay sharp in case something happens or we go further.''