SAN FRANCISCO -- Kensuke Tanaka's Spring Training stint with the Giants was one he would like to forget, but after starring in Japan, he thinks his talent is finally translating across the ocean. Apparently the Giants agree.
On Tuesday, the Giants purchased Tanaka's contract from Triple-A Fresno and designated outfielder Cole Gillespie for assignment. The Giants have 10 days to trade, release or place Gillespie on waivers after he was hitless in nine at-bats in the Majors.
After signing a Minor League contract with the Giants in January, Tanaka made a flurry of errors in Spring Training.
Through an interpreter, Tanaka told reporters he began to feel comfortable around May or June.
"I was able to come here because of my experience in Spring Training," Tanaka said. "It was the first time in the states with a different baseball style."
Tanaka played 55 games at second base for Triple-A Fresno, but has played left field -- where manager Bruce Bochy said he will play for the Giants -- just nine times in 2013.
"We're struggling against right-handers and he's been swinging the bat as well as anybody down there and he's had some games in left field," said Bochy, who placed Tanaka second in the lineup Tuesday. "Hopefully he does provide [a spark]."
Tanaka, who was batting .330 with a .392 on-base percentage in 78 games in Fresno, was a key component of the Nippon Ham Fighters in Japan the past several seasons.
"Playing in the Major Leagues is just one of the goals I have," said Tanaka, who should bring some speed to the basepaths for San Francisco. "I wanted to play good here and play here as long as I can."
Giants sign veteran Francoeur to play left field
SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants signed outfielder Jeff Francoeur to a Minor League contract Tuesday and are hoping he can add some punch to their slumping lineup.
The Royals released Franceour on Sunday after the club designated him for assignment June 30. The outfielder was hitting .208 with a .249 on-base percentage after posting .235 and .287 marks, respectively, in 2012.
"He has a history of outfield duty and has done some good things with the bat," manager Bruce Bochy said.
With outfielder Hunter Pence firmly entrenched in right field, San Francisco is hoping Francoeur can assist with its void in left field, where he has played just twice in his career.
Bochy said Francoeur would be with Triple-A Fresno in time for its game Tuesday night. The plan is for the outfielder to play a few games and then "hopefully help out our outfield situation, where I think we can use some help," Bochy said.
Since he debuted with Atlanta in 2005, Franceour's power and throwing arm in right field have typically been his strengths but, of late, his ability to drive the ball has been diminished. His home run totals dropped from 20 in 2011 to 16 last year before falling off the map in 2013, with three.
He posted a 2.6 WAR (wins above replacement player) in his 2011 debut season with the Royals, but that number plummeted to -1.4 in 2012, according to FanGraphs. Only teammate Eric Hosmer and Rangers infielder Michael Young were worse in all of baseball.
Bochy compared the move to when the Giants signed Pat Burrell during their 2010 World Series season. Burrell hit .202 with a .292 on-base percentage, two home runs and 13 RBIs in 24 games with the Rays before San Francisco added him. He compiled a .364 on-base mark with 18 home runs and 51 RBIs in 96 games with the Giants and started in each postseason game that October.
Kickham returns as Sanchez goes on DL
SAN FRANCISCO -- Two days after the Giants optioned pitcher Mike Kickham to Triple-A Fresno, he was back in San Francisco to help provide some relief for the bullpen following Monday's 16-inning loss to the Mets.
Kickham assumed the roster spot of catcher Hector Sanchez, who was placed on the 15-day disabled list Tuesday with a shoulder strain. Kickham is allowed to return before the end of the 10-day waiting period following his option because he is filling the spot of an injured player.
Because the Giants are carrying two catchers on their active roster, they could afford to replace Sanchez with a pitcher.
"It's been a couple games we talked about [the shoulder] because it's occasionally been flaring up," Bochy said.
Sanchez is hitting .231 with three RBIs in 39 at-bats this season. Bochy complimented Kickham, who is 0-3 with a 12.15 ERA, when the team optioned him to Fresno on Sunday and said he had seen improvements with the left-hander's changeup and that he was more in rhythm from the stretch.