WASHINGTON -- If recent trends continue, the Giants' pitching staff could expand considerably next month.
Left-handers Mike Kickham and Eric Surkamp, who have performed for the Giants this season, could return when roster limits expand to 40 on Sept. 1, based on their improvement with Triple-A Fresno. The same goes for right-hander Heath Hembree, formerly regarded as San Francisco's closer of the future.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy emphasized that no decisions have been made about September callups. But he has noticed the strides made by Kickham, Surkamp and Hembree.
"I'm glad for them," Bochy said Wednesday. "They definitely look like they've gotten into a good groove."
Kickham, ranked third among Giants prospects by MLB.com, is 3-0 with a 0.87 ERA in his last three starts.
Surkamp has improved to 4-1 with a 3.02 ERA for Fresno. Rated No. 13 by MLB.com among Giants prospects, Surkamp has allowed one earned run while pitching seven innings in each of his last three starts. Surkamp has yielded 13 hits while striking out 16 and walking four in that stretch.
Hembree, San Francisco's No. 6 prospect in MLB.com's ratings, recorded saves in six of his previous seven outings entering Wednesday to increase his season total to 27. Hembree also had made six consecutive scoreless appearances.
Giants could be open to Pill playing left field
WASHINGTON -- Acknowledging the intent to create more playing opportunities for Brett Pill, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Wednesday that playing him in left field "might be an option."
Pill went 6-for-8 in his first two games for the Giants after his July 29 promotion from Triple-A Fresno but had gone 1-for-12 since while playing sparingly, entering Wednesday. Brandon Belt's hot hitting has prevented Pill from receiving playing time at first base, his primary position.
"It's difficult to get him out there, the way Belt's playing," Bochy said.
But Pill has played eight games in left field as a Giant, starting seven. And none of San Francisco's left fielders -- Jeff Francoeur (.207 batting average entering Wednesday), Roger Kieschnick (.265 average and slugging percentage) and Gregor Blanco (.249) -- has hit proficiently enough to claim the position.
Lopez moving up into rare air for relievers
WASHINGTON -- One outing at a time, Javier Lopez has climbed into select company.
The Giants left-hander made his 611th career relief appearance Tuesday, tying him with Keith Foulke and former Giant Stu Miller for 100th all-time. Lopez, who reached the Major Leagues in 2003, will have to remain active for quite a few more years to match all-time leader Jesse Orosco's mark of 1,248.
"A lot of it is more my body than my arm," Lopez said Wednesday of his durability. "I've been blessed with some good genes. I'd like to thank my parents for that."
Lopez, who began his professional career as a starter in the Arizona Diamondbacks system, admitted wondering what it's like to start a game on the big league level.
"It's one of those things you always wish you could do. When I got drafted, that was what I had planned on doing," Lopez said.
Switching to relieving and throwing from a dramatically lower arm slot, he added, "ended up being the best thing for me. I'm happy with my role."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.