- Associated Press - Friday, February 19, 2016

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. (AP) - Pitching a no-hitter as a rookie can be a blessing and a curse.

The feat can give you lots of confidence, yet some fans think you should do something similar in every start thereafter.

The San Francisco Giants’ Chris Heston got a taste of stardom on June 9, 2015, when he became the 22nd rookie since 1900 to throw a no-hitter. That he did it in New York’s Citi Field against the eventual National League champion Mets made it more noteworthy. As in, if you can make it there, you can make it anywhere.

It was part of a run that produced an 11-5 record through July. But then Heston struggled, going 1-6 the rest of the way, which included a trip to the minor leagues. The 6-foot-3, 195-pound right-hander finished 12-11 with a 3.95 earned-run average in 31 starts.

Now Heston is at spring camp at Scottsdale Stadium, trying to figure out where he fits in for Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

Since the team signed free agents Johnny Cueto and Jeff Samardzija, Heston has the chance to take over the spot-starter/long reliever role held by Yusmeiro Petit, now with Washington.

“It’s not going to be easy to replace Petit,” Bochy said Friday. “That spot could be the most competitive (in camp). If Chris is going to have that job, it’s going to be up to me to keep him sharp.”

Heston, who turns 28 on April 10, threw a bullpen session for the first time Friday. He said he lived in the Phoenix area over the winter “and got a handful of bullpens under my belt. I wanted to make sure I came in here prepared.”

“My role will work itself out,” he added. “I’m just trying to work on my overall command and see where that takes me. Either way, I just want to pitch. If it is a starting role, so be it.”

Catcher Buster Posey has been a huge influence on him, Heston said.

“He knows the game, is always is studying the game. In so many ways, he is a guy that you trust. I don’t shake him off very often.”

The two certainly were on the same page when Heston made history against the Mets.

He hit three batters, but did not walk anyone and had 11 strikeouts, finishing with a three-strikeout flourish in the ninth. No no-hit pitcher had done that since Sandy Koufax in 1965. Heston also had a two-run single in the 5-0 win.

“If you’re going to do something like that, New York is a good place to do it, with all of the media and stuff,” Heston said. “My Little League coach (from Florida) was there, and he’s a die-hard Mets fan.

“You learn from something like that, just like you would anything. You don’t want your highs to get too high or your lows to get too low. Just try to keep it on an even keel.”

NOTES: Cueto threw for the first time Friday. “He’s a pro. He’s been doing it for a while and he knows what takes to get ready,” Bochy said… . Bochy said it was an honor to have known former Giants player and manager Jim Davenport, who passed away Thursday. Bochy recalled hitting with a Davenport bat in Little League … Bochy likes the way non-roster invitee George Kottaras provides a veteran presence behind the plate. “He’s had a lot of different (pitching) staffs,” Bochy said… . No date has been set for two-time NL Cy Young Award winner Tim Lincecum to throw for clubs, his agency said by email. The former Giants star is recovering from left hip surgery that shortened his 2015 season.

AP Baseball Writer Janie McCauley contributed to this report.

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