SAN FRANCISCO – San Francisco Giants right-hander Ross Stripling on Monday tamped down some of the hot-button language he used over the weekend to detail his roster situation but noted he still doesn’t exactly know when he’ll come off of the injured list.
Stripling, who remains inactive despite being healthy and eligible to come off the 15-day IL on Sept. 1, expressed his frustration Saturday about what he perceived to be a lack of communication regarding when he’ll pitch in a big-league game again, using the term “phantom IL” to describe what he’s experiencing.
“That was a trigger word and I shouldn’t have used that,” Stripling said before the Giants opened a three-game series with the Cleveland Guardians at Oracle Park. “That was my word that I just threw out there. Definitely should not use that verbiage.
“But that’s just kind of how I felt at the time because I feel healthy and I do want to pitch, but that was the wrong choice of words.”
Striping told Bay Area News Group over the weekend that he felt like he was in “limbo,” adding that he was frustrated because, with less than three weeks left in the regular season, he felt he could help the Giants in their pursuit of a playoff spot. San Francisco entered Monday 1 1/2 games back of the Arizona Diamondbacks for the third and last wild card spot in the National League.
Stripling threw his one inning at Triple-A Sacramento on Sept. 1 and under the terms of the collective bargaining agreement, does not have to be activated by the Giants until the last day of the season on Oct. 1.
Striping stressed that his comments Saturday “was not me saying, ‘activate me.’ It was not me demanding to pitch or me saying that I deserve a spot over someone else. That was just me kind of probably having a little bit of lapse of judgment, selfish judgment, kind of (saying), ‘don’t forget I’m here’ kind of thing and saying it’s a frustrating place to be.
“That’s what that was and I feel like it came out as like, ‘activate me. I’m better than some of these (other guys).’ That’s not how I meant it.”
The Giants do not have a need — or a roster spot available — for another starter at this juncture. Alex Cobb, Sean Manaea, Kyle Harrison, Logan Webb, and Alex Wood are all healthy and Keaton Winn just had a solid, six-inning start on Sunday.
Stripling said he spoke with Farhan Zaidi, the Giants president of baseball operations, manager Gabe Kapler, and Zaidi again, but that it was more about his health and not a sit-down type of conversation. Asked if he received any clarification on what his role will be going forward, Striping said, “Yes and no.”
“I don’t think that it’s really a concrete thing,” he said. “It’s kind of day to day and I think what I’ve learned through this, and what I’ll probably be for the rest of the season, is just kind of be flexible and be ready for anything.
“It is a frustrating place to be but I’ve just go to stay ready so that when they need me, I am good to go and ready for whatever they need. But no, nothing is nothing set in stone or anything like that. It’s just kind of stay hot, and we’ll get you out there when they need me.”
In regards to the communication issues Striping raised, Kapler on Monday said, “I think it’s always good to look back and think about — not specifically with Ross, but with all of us — how we can do things differently and what we want our communication styles to look like going forward. I would say the conversations with Ross are a good opportunity for us to learn about how to communicate better.”
Striping likely won’t be available to pitch in a game in the Guardians series after his simulated game Monday afternoon in which he threw roughly 60 pitches in hopes of getting built back up to last multiple outings for his next appearance. Striping initially went on the IL, retroactive to Aug. 17, for a mid-back strain.
The Giants open a four-game series, and a 10-game road trip, on Thursday against the Colorado Rockies at Coors Field.
“So that gave me a chance to get some good work in today,” Striping said, “as opposed to throwing one inning, might as well throw a couple with a few days of definite rest ahead of me and then kind of see where we are from there.”
Stripling, who signed a two-year, $25 million deal with the Giants in December, is 0-5 this season with a 5.29 ERA in 78 1/3 innings over 19 games. In seven appearances since the all-star break, Stripling was 0-3 with a 4.10 ERA, allowing nine home runs and an opponent’s batting average of .280.
Stripling’s contract carries an opt-out clause for the 2024 season when he is set to make $12.5 million in salary. But the 33-year-old Striping said he is committed to the Giants organization, adding, frankly, that he hasn’t pitched well enough this season to test free agency this winter.
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“Let’s just say as a third party, not myself, have I really pitched well enough to opt out and to deserve better than what the Giants have offered me? Likely not,” Stripling said. “I could have maybe had a really good September and maybe pushed the envelope on that, but I think that I’m ready to come back and do better for the Giants than I did this year, to prove that I’m worth what they offered me this offseason.
“It’s just kind of been a weird year of health, giving up a bunch of home runs and just having no room for error. I want better than what I’ve shown. So to get with these guys, who I really like, to give me a good offseason program — I’m still focused on this year — but once this year ends, you get a good offseason program of some stuff to work on and show up to spring training as a Giant ready to do better than I had this year.”
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