Giants still think Barry Zito is “potentially useful”

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San Francisco needed to create an opening on the 40-man roster over the weekend, but instead of simply transferring Barry Zito to the 60-day disabled list the Giants designated Double-A pitcher Clayton Tanner for assignment.

All of which makes Chris Haft of MLB.com speculate that the Giants “still deemed Zito, who’s recovering from a right ankle injury, potentially useful.”

“Potentially useful” isn’t exactly a ringing endorsement for someone with a $126 million contract and his odds of cracking a potential playoff roster remain slim, but manager Bruce Bochy noted that the Giants’ various injuries mean they might have to lean on Zito for some innings down the stretch.

Zito is owed $19 million next season, $20 million in 2013, and will get a $7 million buyout in 2014, but has started just nine times this season (with a 5.62 ERA) and last threw a Quality Start on July 7.