SAN FRANCISCO -- Mike Kickham's demotion didn't come with a somber air of finality. If anything, he generated much more hope than disappointment.
The Giants optioned Kickham to Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday, one day after the left-hander endured a rough Major League debut against the Oakland A's. Yet, despite allowing four runs on four hits while walking four in 2 1/3 innings, Kickham displayed a lively array of pitches, leaving the widespread impression that he'll soon perform again for the Giants.
"Oh, he'll be back up here at some point," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said. "I thought the kid had great stuff."
Said Kickham, who replaced the injured Ryan Vogelsong in the rotation, "I'm grateful for the opportunity and hopefully I'll get another one soon."
Kickham flashed his skill while retiring the first four batters he faced, striking out two. That stretch, the 24-year-old said, "[Proved] to myself that I can get outs with my stuff up here as long as I make my pitches."
Giants reinforce bullpen with Ramirez
SAN FRANCISCO -- Needing relief help, the Giants purchased the contract of right-hander Ramon Ramirez from Triple-A Fresno on Wednesday while optioning left-hander Mike Kickham to the same Minor League affiliate.
Ramirez's presence provides reinforcement and flexibility for the Giants' bullpen, which could be losing Chad Gaudin to a spot start on Sunday.
"It frees things up to do what we want with Chad," manager Bruce Bochy said.
Ramirez, 31, was 2-1 with a 3.46 ERA in 20 games for Fresno. He had 31 strikeouts and 13 walks in 26 innings. A contender for a spot on the Opening Day roster in Spring Training, Ramirez was released and had to accept a role in the Minors after recording an 11.25 ERA in eight Cactus League appearances.
"In Spring Training, he was trying to get back in shape," Bochy said. "He has gotten better and better in Fresno."
From 2010-11, Ramirez was 4-3 with a 2.07 ERA in 91 appearances with the Giants before they traded him with outfielder Andres Torres to the New York Mets for outfielder Angel Pagan during the 2001 Winter Meetings. Ramirez re-signed with the Giants shortly before Spring Training, accepting a Minor League contract.
Ramirez excelled down the stretch in 2010 to help San Francisco reach the postseason. He posted a 0.67 ERA in 25 appearances after being acquired from Boston at the Trade Deadline.
To clear room for Ramirez on the 40-man roster, infielder Tony Abreu was transferred from the 15-day to the 60-day disabled list. Abreu remains on an injury rehabilitation assignment with Fresno.
Pagan set for cortisone shot on ailing hamstring
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants center fielder Angel Pagan will receive a cortisone injection on the left hamstring he aggravated Saturday during his walk-off inside-the-park home run against the Rockies, manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday.
Bochy said Pagan is "doing better" and should only miss a couple more games, which would prevent a trip to the disabled list.
Pagan received good news on Tuesday when an MRI exam revealed some bursitis but no significant damage to his left leg. He was out of the starting lineup on Wednesday against the A's and was expected to miss his fourth consecutive game.
Gaudin expected to start Sunday in St. Louis
SAN FRANCISCO -- Giants right-hander Chad Gaudin is likely to start Sunday in St. Louis in the place of the injured Ryan Vogelsong, manager Bruce Bochy said on Wednesday.
Mike Kickham filled in for Vogelsong on Tuesday in Oakland, but the left-header headed back to Triple-A a day after making his Major League debut.
Gaudin provided three innings of relief and allowed one run after Kickham lasted just 2 1/3 innings in a 6-3 loss.
"We needed innings Tuesday, and he could do it," Bochy said of Gaudin. "He has experience as a starter, and it's nice to have a guy as versatile as Chad."
Bochy said it makes sense for the club to call upon its long reliever rather than making another roster move because of the Giants' off-days next Monday and Thursday.
Gaudin has sparkled in his role this season -- he has a 2.05 ERA in 30 2/3 innings -- after bouncing around from club to club during his 11-year big league career. He recorded his longest outing of the season at Toronto on May 15, when he pitched 3 1/3 innings and threw 72 pitches.
Chris Haft is a reporter and Andrew Owens is an associate reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.