Giants “have to sit down and talk about” Barry Zito’s future

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San Francisco still owes Barry Zito $19 million next season, $20 million in 2013, and a $7 million buyout in 2014, but when asked yesterday about the left-hander’s future role with the Giants manager Bruce Bochy replied: “We’ll have to sit down and talk about it … I can’t answer that.”

Zito has been one of the biggest free agent busts in baseball history, at no point living up to his $126 million contract, but when healthy he’s at least been a decent back-of-the-rotation starter with a 4.52 ERA in 818 innings for the Giants.

However, this season he has a 5.62 ERA in nine starts and has spent much of the year on the disabled list. And the Giants’ impressive collection of young starting pitching means they may not really need a decent back-of-the-rotation starter in 2012 and beyond.

As it stands now the Giants figure to enter next season with Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain, Madison Bumgarner, and Ryan Vogelsong locked into the rotation, leaving Zito to potentially compete for the final spot with Eric Surkamp and Jonathan Sanchez. San Francisco has been in a contract-eating, veteran-releasing mood lately, cutting Aaron Rowand and Miguel Tejada, but so far Zito has avoided the ax.

Kris Bryant on Joey Votto: “He’s the best player ever … He’s a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

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The Cubs wrapped up a four-game series against the Reds at Wrigley Field on Thursday afternoon, suffering a 13-10 loss to split the set. They’ll match up again against the Reds next week for a three-game series in Cincinnati. That’s good news for Cubs third baseman Kris Bryant, because that means he’ll get to see Reds first baseman Joey Votto some more.

As CSN Chicago’s Patrick Mooney reports, Bryant has grown quite fond of Votto. Bryant has already won a World Series ring, a Rookie of the Year Award, and an MVP Award, but he still looks up to Votto. According to Bryant, Votto is “the best player ever.” He added, ““He’s my favorite player. I love watching him. I love talking to him, just picking his brain. He gets a lot of (heat) about his walks and working at-bats and some people want him to swing at more pitches. But, gosh, I mean, he does an unbelievable job. You know that he’s going to give you a great at-bat every time he goes up there. It’s definitely a guy that I look up to and I can learn from.”

Bryant said that Votto is “a future Hall of Famer, that’s for sure.”

Bryant also explained how his approach changed by watching Votto. He said that in his rookie season, he was “swinging at everything.” Votto, however, is “aggressive, but he’s not going to swing at a pitch until he wants it.”

Indeed, in Bryant’s rookie season, he struck out in nearly 31 percent of his 650 plate appearances. This season, he has struck out in only 19 percent of his PA. His walk rate has also increased by more than 2.5 percent since his rookie campaign. Compared to last year, Bryant is down in HR and RBI, but his average is the same, his on-base percentage is markedly better, and his slugging percentage is only down by a minute amount.

Video: Daniel Descalso hits D-Backs’ third inside-the-park homer of the season

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Diamondbacks second baseman Daniel Descalso hit his team’s third inside-the-park home run of the season during Thursday’s 4-0 win over the Astros. In the top of the fourth inning, with the score 1-0 and the bases empty, Descalso ripped a 1-0, 83 MPH change-up to right-center field. The ball caromed off the wall, heading towards left field, which sent center Jake Marisnick on the chase. Marisnick tried to pick up the ball with his glove, but dropped it, which sealed Descalso’s destiny for an inside-the-parker.

It had only been five days since the Diamondbacks’ last inside-the-park home run. David Peralta hit one against the Cubs on August 12. Ketel Marte legged out his club’s first ITPHR on July 26 against the Braves.

As ESPN Stats & Info notes, the Diamondbacks have three as a team, which is amazing because the other 29 teams have hit seven combined.