<
>

Giants make 'toughest' call to bump popular Herges

SAN FRANCISCO -- The San Francisco Giants designated popular
reliever Matt Herges for assignment Sunday to make room for new
setup man LaTroy Hawkins.

Herges and right-hander Jim Brower knew the decision would
probably come down to one of them after the Giants acquired Hawkins
from the Chicago Cubs on Saturday for Jerome Williams and David Aardsma.

"You get a gut feeling at times," Herges said, sitting in his
locker before packing his belongings. "I don't believe this
happened because of my performance. It's going to be tough not to
be emotional. I've built some relationships I'm going to miss.
Right now, it's really tough thinking of leaving the guys you love.
But I'm excited. A door has just opened."

Herges was 1-1 with a 4.71 ERA in 21 appearances this season. He
allowed four runs and five hits in Friday's 9-3 loss to the San Diego Padres, but had a 2.12 ERA in 19 outings from April 7 to
Thursday.

"It was one of the toughest [decisions]," Giants assistant
general manager Ned Colletti said. "He's a man of great heart,
soul and integrity. You always hate to part with a man like that,
no matter what line of work you're in."

The Giants have 10 days to either trade Herges or release him.
General manager Brian Sabean was in negotiations with a team to
trade him, but that club wanted to get rid of a player the Giants
couldn't use.

Sabean is willing to pay a chunk of Herges' salary if it
improves the team's chances of helping him land elsewhere. Herges
was re-signed to a two-year, $2.5 million contract in December 2003
and is due to earn $1.5 million this season.

"He's still a major league pitcher and I hope someone will take
advantage of him being out there," Sabean said.

"I'm not bitter at all," he said. "I wanted to hug them. It's
all good. The tough part is leaving really good friends. I loved
every minute here."

Herges was re-signed to a two-year, $2.5 million contract in
December 2003. He is due to earn $1.5 million this season.

Herges has been a positive veteran presence for some of the
young Giants pitchers. Noah Lowry has sought his guidance many
times.

"Hergie's been an outstanding teammate and good friend," Lowry
said. "It's disappointing to see him go. It's an unfortunate
situation he ended up being the odd man out. It's upsetting, but at
the same time, it's a business."

Hawkins was 15-3 with a 2.00 ERA as the primary setup man on
Minnesota's 2002 and 2003 AL Central championship teams. The
31-year-old right-hander had 25 saves for the Cubs in 2004 and made
21 relief appearances this season.

But he failed to hold the job as the closer in both seasons,
blowing three of his seven save opportunities this spring before
Ryan Dempster replaced him on May 9.

The Giants believe a fresh start will help Hawkins, whose
velocity has been up around 96 mph at times this season.

Giants manager Felipe Alou will use him regardless of who is at
the plate.

"It's very important," Alou said of Hawkins' role. "We lost
the game in the eighth inning yesterday. We've lost many games in
the eighth inning the last couple years with different guys
pitching. When you get a guy of that stature, that lefty-righty
thing is going to stop right there."