SAN FRANCISCO -- With his club falling further out of playoff contention by the day, Giants general manager Brian Sabean started making sweeping changes Wednesday.
Outfielder Aaron Rowand and infielder Miguel Tejada were designated for assignment by the defending World Series champions, who trail first-place Arizona by a season-high six games in the NL West race. The Giants beat the Chicago Cubs 4-0 to avoid a sweep and end a three-game losing streak, while the D-backs beat Colorado 4-2 at home on Wednesday night.
Arizona visits for a crucial three-game weekend series starting Friday night.
"We're at a spot in the season where we have to do some damage control with the roster. A couple things played into it. In both cases, there was diminished playing time, diminished roles," Sabean said. "If this stays ugly, we've got to turn the page, look at some other people and get ready for next year, and try to win and develop at the same time."
Sabean worked to try to move both players to other clubs within the day so they could "continue their careers." The Giants have 10 days to trade or release each player, but would have had to trade them to a contender before Thursday for them to be eligible for another team's postseason roster. Still, San Francisco is absorbing more than $15 million in the combined contracts of Rowand and Tejada.
"I don't expect anything. We'll see what happens. We've got the whole day to work on it," Sabean said.
The GM didn't find any takers before the 9 p.m. local time deadline for trading either player for them to be playoff-eligible.
Rowand, the team's second-highest paid player behind pitcher Barry Zito, is making $12 million this season and was due the same for 2012 -- but money wasn't an issue in the decision with Rowand.
"Ownership was apprised throughout the process. That wasn't a problem," Sabean said. "He was given an opportunity. ... Did it turn out the way we wanted to in the end? Obviously not. But it's time for both parties to move on."
The 34-year-old Rowand was batting .233 with four home runs and 21 RBIs in 108 games. He was hitless in seven at-bats during the current homestand and was mired in a 1-for-24 (.042) slump dating to Aug. 13. He hasn't drawn a walk since July 5.
The 37-year-old Tejada received a $6.5 million, one-year deal in December to join the Giants. He was batting .239 with four homers and 26 RBIs in 91 games. He was 4 for 20 since being activated from the 15-day disabled list Aug. 16 after missing 25 games with a lower abdominal strain.
"I think we knew eventually it was coming," Mark DeRosa said of the shake-up. "We didn't know who, or when it was coming. At some point something had to be done."
A 15-year big league veteran, Tejada won the 2002 AL MVP across San Francisco Bay with the Oakland Athletics.
"I just thank them for the opportunity," Tejada said in a brief phone interview. Asked if he saw the move coming, he said: "I don't pay attention, I just try to play baseball."
"Everybody knows what I can do in this game, what I can do on a baseball field," Tejada said later. "I would have liked (to help the Giants win). It just did not happen."
Rowand had cleaned out his locker by late Wednesday morning, shaking hands with several teammates before he left the ballpark.
"I wish things would have turned out differently," Rowand said in a text message. "I thank the Giants for the opportunity. And, more than anything else, I'm going to miss my teammates and wish each and every one of them the best."
Also Wednesday, San Francisco recalled outfielder Pat Burrell from a rehab assignment and reinstated him from the 15-day disabled list after he missed 43 games with a mid-right foot strain. The club also purchased the contract of infielder Brett Pill from Triple-A Fresno.
Burrell and Rowand are longtime friends. They played together with the Phillies.
The news was tough for Burrell to take, but he understood, too.
"Some moves had to be made for us to get back on track, hopefully," he said. "This team needed some changes."
Wednesday's win was only the sixth victory in 16 games for San Francisco, which finished up August at 11-18 with 78 runs -- the lowest monthly runs total since the Giants scored 77 in April 2009.
"We still believe we can climb back in this thing," manager Bruce Bochy said. "We've dug ourselves a pretty good hole here but it's a gritty group, and we'll keep fighting until the end."
The Giants still hope to get struggling $126 million lefty Zito back from foot and ankle injuries by mid-September for the stretch run. He was left off the postseason roster for all three rounds last fall.
Sabean wouldn't say whether the Giants might be willing to also part ways with the pitcher, in the fifth season of his seven-year deal, and take on his huge contract at some point.
"I have no idea," Sabean said when asked if Zito is in the plans for 2012.