Return To Grace

Sosa looks to get back on track in Triple-A bullpen





SAN FRANCISCO—Righthander Henry Sosa used to be among the darlings in the Giants system. When the All-Star Game was in San Francisco in 2007, Sosa was given the high honor to be their World Team representative in the Futures Game.
Then Sosa became sidetracked by two injury-filled seasons and all the buzz moved on to other pitchers like lefthander Madison Bumgarner.

But Sosa reminded everyone this spring what he can do when healthy. He didn't allow a run in 112/3 innings and was among the final cuts as the Giants set their roster. Sosa, 24, was so effective in shorter stints that the organization sent him to work out of the bullpen at Triple-A Fresno.

The Giants are flush in good bullpen arms, but there's an excellent chance Sosa will be needed in the big leagues at some point this season.

"You like the way he competes and throws strikes," Giants Manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's got a good future."

Sosa had knee surgery after the 2007 season and club officials were disappointed when he had to begin the following season in extended spring. He struggled with mechanics in 12 starts for high Class A San Jose. Sosa was on the verge of turning it around last year at Double-A Connecticut, where he was 6-0, 2.36 in 14 starts. But he couldn't stay on the mound because of muscle strains in his biceps and upper back muscles—perhaps resulting from his love for doing hundreds of postgame push-ups.

If he's healthy, his stuff plays against big league hitters. Sosa's fastball had plenty of late life when he threw three of them past Diamondbacks first baseman Adam LaRoche in a Cactus League game.

Sosa also excelled with a new changeup that uses a modified slit-finger grip. He learned it from righthander Felix Romero, a non-roster pitcher who will join Sosa in the bullpen.

GIANTICS

• As expected, the Giants optioned catcher Buster Posey to Fresno. He formed an Opening Day battery with Kevin Pucetas, who had a 2.89 ERA this spring. Madison Bumgarner will open as Fresno's No. 2 starter.

• Righthander Zack Wheeler, the Giants' No. 1 pick last June, had a rough start in his pro debut. He allowed three runs on one hit and three walks in 1⁄3 of an inning.