By The Associated Press
SAN FRANCISCO – The San Francisco Giants are sending $126 million to the sideline.
Struggling left-hander Barry Zito was left off the team’s playoff roster Thursday for its best-of-five National League Division Series against the wild-card Atlanta Braves. Zito is making a team-high $18.5 million this year.
Game 1 is Thursday night.
Manager Bruce Bochy told Zito on Wednesday he will not start, and Zito said he didn’t know if he would be in the bullpen. The team announced the 25-man roster Thursday morning, and Zito wasn’t among the 11 pitchers.
Also left off: right fielder Jose Guillen, who batted .266 with three homers and 15 RBIs in 42 games for San Francisco, but has been dealing with some neck issues. The Giants acquired him from Kansas City in August and he made 38 starts in right.
Cody Ross likely will be the starting right fielder. Outfielders Aaron Rowand — who at $12 million is second-highest paid behind Zito this year — and Nate Schierholtz made the team. Schierholtz can play right field and adds speed as a possible pinch runner.
Rowand is a playoff veteran with good numbers against two of Atlanta’s first three starters. He is batting .478 (11 for 23) against Game 1 starter Derek Lowe, and .381 (8 for 21) versus Game 3 starter Tim Hudson.
Bochy is going with ace Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and Jonathan Sanchez for the first three games. After that, he will decide between Lincecum and rookie Madison Bumgarner.
“My heart and soul is in this clubhouse,” Zito said after Wednesday night’s workout. “I have no other options in myself than to pull for every one of these guys.”
Zito (9-14) lost to the Padres on Saturday when San Francisco had a chance to clinch the NL West title. The Giants wound up doing it Sunday in their final game. Zito gave up consecutive bases-loaded walks in the first and was booed off the field when done after a season-low three innings.
Zito failed to reach 10 wins for the first time since his rookie season in 2000. His 4.15 ERA is the fourth-highest of his career. He went 1-8 with a 6.66 ERA over his last 11 outings and only had one victory in his last 15 appearances. The stretch included a career-worst nine-game losing streak from July 21 to Sept. 14.