Giants Notes: Marrero gets big chance; Rollins goes home

Giants Notes: Marrero gets big chance; Rollins goes home

SAN FRANCISCO -- After more than six weeks in the desert the Giants returned to their chilly home park on Thursday, and manager Bruce Bochy wasn't ready to take some of the mystery out of heated spring races. 

Bochy said he knows who his fifth starter is, but he won't publicly announce it until Friday. Asked about the situation, general manager Bobby Evans offered only that "we're in the same camp" on who that player is. 

In the outfield, it appears Chris Marrero is a near-lock to make the roster after an eight-homer spring, but again, the Giants aren't ready to announce anything. Marrero gets another chance to prove himself Thursday. He's facing a lefty starter, which would be his role, and he's playing left field at AT&T Park for the first time. Is Bochy more interested in the defense or the at-bats against a lefty?

"Both," he said. "I want to take a look at Marrero in left field and see his at-bats. It's not so much the results, but just to see him here on this stage and in this ballpark."

Bochy was behind the cage when Marrero took BP, and while it is only BP, he put on a Madison Bumgarner-like show. 

Bochy also hopes to get Jae-Gyun Hwang into left field one of the next two nights. Hwang is headed for Triple-A when this series is over, where he'll play first, third and left. "If he continues (hitting like this) down in Sacramento, with that bat, you've got to find a spot for him," Bochy said. 

Sense a theme here? Somebody who hits from the right side is going to get a lot of time this year, and while Mac Williamson and Michael Morse are hurt, the two newcomers have a chance to make a statement. Justin Ruggiano is still in the mix, too, although it sounds like he's headed for Triple-A to get 50 or so at-bats to strengthen his shoulder. 

--- Will Smith had Tommy John surgery in Los Angeles yesterday. The procedure went without surprises, and the initial read from doctors is that Smith should be back in the big leagues next May. This far out, it's hard to be exact, though. 

--- Eduardo Nuñez said his shoulder feels great after a couple of late-camp cortisone shots and he'll start at third the next two nights. Nuñez will play four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. If Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, Nuñez would be the backup to Brandon Crawford, along with starting at third. 

--- Jimmy Rollins was given the option of coming up here for this series and finishing his spring in Oakland, near his home. Rollins was told he would not make the team. He went back to the Tampa area, however, and he won't play in this series. 

--- Tyler Beede was out on the field early taking photos and soaking it in. Beede hasn't been to AT&T Park since shooting a cameo for "Silicon Valley." The Giants will start him Saturday, with the idea that it should knock some nerves off for his eventual debut. Beede will be joined by a bunch of minor leaguers, including Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones, Reyes Moronta, Kyle Crick and Austin Slater. Steven Duggar would have been here, but he has a flexor injury and will miss the start of the season. 

--- Brandon Belt will hit second at the start of the year, Bochy said. Belt walked into the park with Santiago Casilla, which threw everyone off in the hallway leading up to the clubhouse. Casilla eventually kept going, all the way to the visitor's clubhouse. I talked to him briefly, and he said that it'll be a weird series for him. Casilla will pitch an inning Friday night. He deserves a big ovation.

--- Javier Lopez was my latest podcast guest. You can stream it here or download it on iTunes here. If you like the podcast, please consider leaving a rating! 

--- Finally, as part of our rebranding, my Twitter account has changed. It's still the same account, just a new name. The tweets about reliever at-bats are not going anywhere. 

Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts


Giants' outfield picture becoming clearer after latest round of roster cuts

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants moved closer to setting their opening day roster on Monday when they made a significant round of cuts to their spring training roster. 

A total of 15 players were reassigned or optioned, bringing the total to 31 players remaining in camp. Many of the players cut Monday entered the spring competing for jobs. 

In the outfield, Mac Williamson and Austin Slater were optioned to Triple-A and Chris Shaw was reassigned to minor league camp. Williamson had a huge spring and was the likeliest of the trio to push for an opening day spot, but he'll start his year in the minors. Steven Duggar was not among the cuts, and he remains an option to make the team, with the Giants also looking at Gregor Blanco, Gorkys Hernandez and Jarrett Parker for backup spots. Hernandez and Parker are out of minor league options. 

Tyler Beede was optioned and Andrew Suarez was reassigned to minor league camp, leaving three players vying for the final two rotation spots. Ty Blach and Chris Stratton have been the favorites all along, although both struggled the last time out and Derek Holland has had a strong spring. 

Both backup catchers -- Trevor Brown and Hector Sanchez -- were reassigned, along with Orlando Calixte, who saw time in the big leagues last year. Joan Gregorio, Jose Valdez, Justin O'Conner and Kyle Jensen were also reassigned. Chase d'Arnaud, who appeared to be making a strong push, was on the list, too, leaving Josh Rutledge as the only competition for Kelby Tomlinson for the final infield spot. 

Finally, Derek Law and Roberto Gomez were optioned to Triple-A. Josh Osich remains and appears the frontrunner for a bullpen job. Julian Fernandez, the Rule 5 pick, also remains in camp. 

The Giants break camp on Friday.

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

Starting to rev things up, Hunter Pence has big night at plate and in left

PEORIA — Jeff Samardzija spent a couple minutes after Thursday’s start talking to reporters about how deep he thinks the Giants lineup can be. It’ll be a hell of a lot deeper if Hunter Pence keeps hitting like this. 

After a slow start to the spring, Pence is charging. He had three hits against the Padres: a triple that bounced off the top of the wall in right-center, a hard single up the middle, and a double to center. The more encouraging plays for the Giants happened in left field. Pence chased down a drive to the line in the third inning, leaving the bases loaded. He opened the fourth by going the other direction and gloving a fly ball to left-center. 

"A good game for Hunter, both ways," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's getting more comfortable out there. You can see it with the jumps he's getting right now. It takes a little while when you change positions, but I think he's going to be fine out there."

The Giants appear set to have Austin Jackson and Pence atop the lineup against left-handed starters, and that duo could see plenty of time early. Seven of the first nine games are against the Dodgers, who have four lefty starters. 

--- Evan Longoria had a double off the right-center wall on Wednesday after missing a week with a sore ankle. He had a single the same way in his second at-bat Thursday. More than the at-bats, Longoria has impressed with his soft hands and steady arm at third. The ankle looks fine, too. 

“My ankle feels pretty good,” Longoria said. “I don’t think it’s going to be an issue going forward.”

--- It’s been a quiet spring for Andrew McCutchen, but we saw the wheels tonight. McCutchen easily stole second after a two-run single in the fifth. When Evan Longoria bounced one to the left side, shortstop Freddy Galvis tried to go to third for the lead out, but McCutchen beat that throw, too. He got up and put his hands on his hips, as if to say, "Why'd you even try that?"

--- Samardzija allowed three homers in a six-batter span in the third. He allowed three homers in an inning in his previous start, too, but he said he’s not concerned. Samardzija deemed it a sequencing issue. He’s working in a new changeup and threw it in situations he normally wouldn’t; Eric Hosmer took advantage of a floating one, crushing it to deep, deep right for the third homer. 

--- With a runner on, Brandon Belt put down a perfect bunt to foil the shift. Belt does that every spring, particularly against NL West teams, but rarely during the regular season. Maybe this will be the year?

Belt later crushed a homer to deep right. That had to feel good for a number of reasons. Belt is fighting a cold and he learned earlier in the day that his college coach, Augie Garrido, had passed away.