Giants spring training Day 3: Trevor Brown will get infield time

Giants spring training Day 3: Trevor Brown will get infield time

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The remaining position players started to roll into Scottsdale Stadium on Wednesday. Kelby Tomlinson arrived in the morning, Conor Gillaspie walked through a few minutes later, and Denard Span showed up as well. It won't be long before there's a full workout at the facility, and when infielders officially hit the dirt, a young catcher will join them. 

Manager Bruce Bochy said Trevor Brown will get some meaningful time at second base this spring, and he also will take grounders at first base and third. Brown made 96 starts at second base in the minors and a dozen at first, but his big league exposure has been limited. He occasionally takes pre-game grounders if an infielder is dealing with a minor injury, and that led to him getting an inning at third base last June. The Giants were shorthanded at the time because Joe Panik was about to be put on the concussion disabled list. 

Bochy said the Giants haven't ruled out opening the season with three catchers, but added that the odds of that configuration "are less than 50 percent." Brown is most likely ticketed for the starting role in Triple-A, as the Nick Hundley addition was originally supposed to allow Brown -- a converted infielder -- to continue his development behind the plate. Still, this role has always been something that intrigues the Giants. Brown is athletic and experienced enough to add the infield to his big league playbook, and even if it doesn't lead to an opening day job, it'll help him going forward. 

So, be ready for the "Trevor Brown is playing second base!" tweets during a random game this spring. You can always use that kind of intrigue during a long exhibition season. For now, here are the highlights from Day 3 ... 

POSITION BATTLE: Matt Cain is the clear frontrunner for the fifth starter spot, but Ty Blach intends on making it a hard decision. "That's what you live for," Blach said. "The competition."

Blach had a quiet offseason back home in Denver, but he certainly made a ton of noise before packing up last October. He had a 1.06 ERA in four regular season outings and didn't allow a run in two relief appearances in the NLDS. The highlight of Blach's season was a huge win over the Dodgers on Oct. 1, when he threw eight scoreless innings and struck out six.

"That was big for my confidence," he said. "It lets you know you can compete at the highest level. It's something to build off for sure."

PROSPECT WATCH: Chase Johnson was moved to the bullpen last season at Double-A and his numbers immediately improved. The hard-throwing right-hander struck out about a batter per inning as a reliever and dropped his ERA to 2.30 and WHIP to 1.09. Johnson was shut down late in the season after feeling the dreaded forearm tightness, but he said it was believed to be a reaction to his new pitching schedule and he's back to 100 percent as camp starts. It sounds like Johnson will continue to work out of the bullpen going forward. 

FAMILIAR FACE: Word out of Dodgers camp is that the Sergio Romo deal will be announced soon, and Romo will continue to wear No. 54. 

ICYMI: The podcast is back! The first guest of 2017 was top pitching prospect Tyler Beede, who talked about his development, the importance of this spring, his offseason workouts with Mark Melancon, attending the Super Bowl, his music career, and much more. You can stream it online here or download it on iTunes here. 

QUOTABLE: The main feature today was on Jimmy Rollins, who is trying to win a job as a non-roster invitee. Rollins lives in the Tampa area and he recently ran into Tampa resident Derek Jeter at the gym. "He called me an old man, and I was like, 'That's interesting,'" Rollins said of the retired Jeter. "I was like, 'Why are you even at the gym?' He said he's been breathing heavy when he walks up and down the golf course." 

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.