SAN FRANCISCO (AP) — Brad Penny is back in the big leagues, via Japan and Fresno.
The Giants purchased the contract of the right-hander Friday to give manager Bruce Bochy a versatile reliever in the bullpen. He is stretched out to pitch two innings — or perhaps more.
Penny takes the spot of Shane Loux, placed on the 15-day disabled list after he strained his neck during a workout Thursday. He underwent an MRI exam Friday that revealed the injury.
Penny arrived as the Giants tried for a fifth straight shutout with Matt Cain pitching in Game 2 of a four-game series with the Cincinnati Reds.
"They usually do every year. Every time I come over here, one of them is throwing shutouts," Penny said. "It's nice. I've been keeping up with them as much as I can. The only thing about being in the bullpen you may not get many innings with these guys."
Penny, 119-99 heading into his 13th season, signed a minor league contract May 18. After nearly joining the Giants this spring, he called Bochy when things didn't work out in Japan. While he would like to return to starting someday, Penny is eager for his second stint in San Francisco. He briefly pitched for the Giants down the down the stretch in 2009 and went 4-1 with a 2.59 ERA in six starts.
"It's definitely going to be different and it's going to be something I have to learn as I go along, but I'm looking forward to it. Whatever they want me to do," Penny said of coming out of the pen. "I almost signed with them before in spring training. I've had a relationship with Bochy for a little while. I called Boch and said 'I didn't like it over there, I'm coming back. That's how it came about. It's just nice to be back. It's nice to see this stadium again. The fans here are awesome. I had a lot of fun while I was here last time. I told my agent in spring I'd really rather come here than anywhere."
The 34-year-old Penny went 11-11 with a 5.30 ERA and 74 strikeouts in 31 starts last season for Detroit. He signed in February with the Japan Pacific League's Softbank Hawks, going 0-1 with a 10.08 ERA in one start before getting released in May.
"We'll let him get adjusted and see how comfortable he is doing this role," Bochy said. "Things could change as far as the roles. Right now, I can use him anywhere. That's what I'll tell him. I don't want him to focus on one set role. Whether it's a long guy, a middle guy, just be ready any time. I'll give him notice. He's been a starter for the most part in his career, so this will be a little adjustment for him."
Penny said he also experienced some tendinitis in his throwing shoulder and was particularly cautious not to aggravate the condition further. He believes it was partly because he threw only 12 innings during the spring — he typically would build up to 30 — then was expected to make 120 pitches per outing.
"I figured I could do anything for a couple years. That wasn't true," said Penny, who struggled with the language barrier. "I just didn't enjoy it. I wasn't having fun playing baseball. If you're not having fun, you shouldn't be doing it."
San Francisco transferred left-hander Eric Surkamp to the 60-day DL to clear room on the 40-man roster for Penny.