Giants GM Evans explains front office's thinking with Christian Arroyo

Giants GM Evans explains front office's thinking with Christian Arroyo

The more often Christian Arroyo produces solid offensive numbers in spring training, the more impatient Giants fans get. Once again, GM Bobby Evans is telling you to slow down.

"I think that with him, you want to get exposure with Triple-A before you look at him at the big league level," Evans said Tuesday on KNBR

"But I will say at some level if his performance continues to show us that he's not that far away -- the challenge is you really don't want to put him in a position where he's a part-time player at the big league level at 21 years old, you want him coming up to be an everyday guy."

Through Tuesday, Arroyo, 21, is hitting .286 in 12 games of big league camp this spring. Last year, the young infielder turned heads as he hit .556 with two home runs in 13 games with the major league club during spring training. 

No matter how hot Arroyo gets at the plate this spring, the Giants are sticking with their plan to start the prospect in Triple-A with the Sacramento River Cats. But, that doesn't mean Arroyo can't still find a way to San Francisco in 2017. 

"He might be a guy this season if there's an injury or there's an opportunity with somebody struggling and there's an opportunity with everyday at-bats, then you make that call and bring him up," Evans said. "But you probably at least give him some time in Triple-A to start the year." 

What Evans is hoping for more than anything with increased time in the minors is improving Arroyo's mental side of the game. The bat is the there and so is the versatility as the natural shortstop has shown the ability to also play third and second base. When Arroyo does come up, the Giants want him to have already faced adversity and learned to quickly bounce back. If he doesn't first continue improving these traits, his confidence can come crashing down. 

"You just want guys to experience the challenge of the higher levels in the minor leagues, so when they come up, when they do struggle or have difficulty, they can rely on the fact that they're where they need to be at the right point in time," Evans explained. "And if they come up too soon and struggle, they might have doubt that they really shouldn't be there." 

Looking at a sample of success in the Cactus League simply isn't enough for Evans. Arroyo must complete his path to the majors and show sustained success at the highest level of the minors. 

"I think for us the more assurances we can give themselves as well as ourselves that he's ready ... 25 or 30 at-bats into spring training don't necesarily tell us that, but if he gets 100 at-bats in Triple-A and the opportunity is still there, then bring him and let him go and turn him loose." 

Arroyo batted .274 with only three home runs, but 36 doubles, in Double-A for the Richmond Flying Squirrels in 2016. The Giants currently have Eduardo Nunez and Conor Gillaspie on the active roster, and Gordon Beckham, Aaron Hill, Jae-gyun Hwang, and Jimmy Rollins fighting for a roster spot as possible backup third basemen on minor league deals. 

Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle


Jeff Samardzija to miss start of season after MRI reveals strained pectoral muscle

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants nearly left Scottsdale unscathed. Instead they'll leave with an injured No. 3 starter, but the news on Jeff Samardzija late Thursday night was good news. 

Manager Bruce Bochy told reporters that Samardzija has a strained pectoral muscle that will sideline him for the start of the season. But given that Samardzija, who has had a rough spring, went for an MRI on his shoulder a week before the season opener, team officials have to be breathing a sigh of relief. 

"He'll go a week without throwing the ball and then crank it back up," Bochy told reporters, including Kerry Crowley of the San Jose Mercury News. "It should't take long to get him back on the mound so it's good news."

Samardzija was supposed to take the ball next Saturday at Dodger Stadium. Instead, the Giants will rely on two young pitchers and a non-roster invitee at the back end of their rotation. The injury ends a three-way race for the final two spots between Chris Stratton, Ty Blach and Derek Holland. The Giants could use all three in the rotation until Samardzija is healthy, or they could skip their No. 5 starter and move one of the pitchers into the bullpen. 

Because the Giants have two off days before their seventh game, Madison Bumgarner can line up to pitch three of the first nine games. The Giants have been considering that all spring, although they have yet to publicly announce a decision one way or the other. Bumgarner said early in camp that he would be up to the challenge, and given how sharp he was all spring, that might be the best way to tread water until Samardzija is cleared to return to the rotation.

No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers


No. 79? No. 53? Before they were stars, Giants wore random numbers

SCOTTSDALE — A couple of veterans walked past a clubhouse TV earlier in camp and saw that the Giants and Padres were tied heading into the bottom of the 10th of an exhibition game. The Padres infielders were just standing around, and there was not yet a new pitcher on the mound. 

“It’s that time when No. 99 comes in to pitch,” one of the players joked as he headed home for the day.

A few seconds later, a big left-hander took the mound. He was, in fact, wearing No. 99, and in his inning on the mound he would face a No. 74 (Aramis Garcia) and No. 78 (Steven Duggar). This is the norm for spring training, when dozens of players — including teenagers and journeymen still hanging around the low minors — get into every game. That leads to action between numbers you would never see in a normal game. The Giants had 60 players in camp, plus 10 coaches and staff members with numbers. Throw in their 10 retired numbers and the unofficially retired ones (25, 55, etc.) and, well, there aren’t a whole lot of choices left. 

If Duggar makes the Opening Day roster, he’ll get an upgrade from his lineman’s number. Ditto for Garcia, who could be Buster Posey’s backup as soon as next season. Still, a taste of big league action doesn’t guarantee a normal number in camp, when young players regularly find themselves back at the end of the line. 

Ryder Jones wore 83 in camp last year and 63 in the big leagues. When he showed up this year, with 150 big league at-bats under his belt, he was told that he would have to wait until the end of the spring to upgrade. Players with more service time (think No. 2 Chase d’Arnaud or No. 19 Josh Rutledge) get priority, at least until all the cuts are made. Jones said he has a few numbers in mind for his next stint in the big leagues, but he won’t be picky. 

“Anything under 40 works,” he said, smiling. 

The steady climb toward single digits happens to just about everybody. Long before Brandon Crawford’s became @bcraw35, he wore 79 in his first camp. He moved up to 53 after that and Mike Murphy flipped that to 35 when Crawford became the big league shortstop. Hunter Pence doesn’t remember his first spring training number with the Astros, but he knows it was in the low eighties. Joe Panik wore 66 the first time he spent a spring at Scottsdale Stadium. “I was an offensive lineman,” he joked. Tyler Beede, now on the cusp of his big league debut, got promoted from 63 to 32 when he arrived last spring, only to swap to 38 this year because of some in-season shifting. When Pablo Sandoval arrived last summer, Steven Okert switched from 48 to 32.

Then there are those who have only known one jersey. Posey was a can’t-miss prospect when he arrived and doesn’t remember wearing anything other than 28. Brandon Belt was a top-25 prospect when he came to camp for the first time, and he’s been 9 since that day. Madison Bumgarner wore 40 in his first big league camp because he had already made his big league debut, but somewhere in the team archives, there are probably a few photos of a 19-year-old Bumgarner wearing something else. 

“The previous spring I came up to pitch a few times,” Bumgarner said. “I’m pretty sure I had a different number every time I came over and I’m pretty sure it was always in the eighties.”

There were seven Giants in the eighties this spring. Duggar was one of two top prospects — Chris Shaw inherited Crawford’s old 79 — to come close, and he didn’t mind one bit. He’s not thinking too far ahead, even though he could be a big leaguer in eight days. 

“I’ll take anything if I’m in the big leagues,” he said. “I’ll take No. 112 if that’s what they give me.”