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Hembree among seven sent down to Minors

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Rookie Heath Hembree, who appeared to have a legitimate chance at claiming a spot in the Giants' season-opening bullpen, was among seven players sent to the Minor Leagues on Friday.

Hembree and fellow right-handed relievers Erik Cordier and Jake Dunning were optioned to Triple-A Fresno. Catcher Guillermo Quiroz, first baseman Mark Minicozzi and right-handers Brett Bochy and Adam Reifer were reassigned to Minor League camp. The Giants have 33 players left in big league camp.

Hembree, who was unscored upon in 7 2/3 innings spanning nine late-season games with the Giants last year, sustained his momentum this spring. He surrendered one earned run and one hit in four innings over five appearances. He recorded an opponents' batting average of .071.

That wasn't enough for the Giants' braintrust, which decided that the 25-year-old Hembree, ranked as the 11th-best prospect in the farm system, needed to sharpen his off-speed pitches.

"For his development, it's best for him and for the organization to go down and continue to pitch," manager Bruce Bochy said.

Bochy expressed a similar mix of praise and counsel regarding Dunning, who posted a 1.42 ERA in six Cactus League games after posting a 2.84 ERA in 29 appearances for the Giants last year.

The moves dramatically shrank the field of candidates remaining for the pair of bullpen vacancies. Right-handers George Kontos, Derek Law, Kameron Loe, Jean Machi and Yusmeiro Petit are in the mix, along with left-handers David Huff and Dan Runzler. Petit, Huff and Loe are being considered for a long-relief role.

"I think it's going to go down to the last couple of days before we know who'll [win] the final two spots," Bochy said.

Demoting his son wasn't an easy task for Bochy, who performed the deed last year while taking Brett to dinner. This time, the Bochys met for breakfast. "It was cheaper," Bruce Bochy jokingly said.

The younger Bochy sported a 2.08 ERA in five appearances. "Brett had a nice camp," Bruce Bochy said. "He didn't get a lot of work, but he held his own."

Minicozzi was the story of camp early in the Cactus League season, having rejoined the Giants in 2012 after four years of overcoming injuries and playing internationally. He hit well initially but tapered off to .216 in 17 games.

"Great story, how he's persevered," Bochy said.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat.
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