Giants spring training Day 37: With LF options dropping, Marrero stays hot

Giants spring training Day 37: With LF options dropping, Marrero stays hot

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- There is no doubt at this point that Jarrett Parker will face Zack Greinke and the Arizona Diamondbacks on opening day. What the Giants do for the leftover left field at-bats early in the season remains a mystery. 

Michael Morse is out at least two weeks. Mac Williamson is also out at least two more weeks with a quad strain.

"Mac's a ways away," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He did a pretty good job on that quad."

A month ago, Justin Ruggiano would have been the heavy favorite to pick up the slack. But the veteran lefty-masher is batting just .194 this spring, and even a recent uptick has included some plays that bothered the coaches. Ruggiano was twice thrown out on the bases Monday and on Tuesday he double-clutched before making a late throw after a Padre was caught flat-footed between first and second. The door to a roster spot is wide open, and another right-handed hitter is trying to charge through it. 

Chris Marrero had two more hits Tuesday, raising his spring average above .300. He hit his sixth homer, and it's no fluke. Marrero slugged 23 homers in Triple-A last season for the Red Sox affiliate. 

"This guy has had an impressive spring," Bochy said. "He plays first base, outfield, he's a right-handed bat. Mike (Morse), with his injury, it obviously shortens the competition up a little bit. Chris is just doing all he can. It's been a great spring for him."

Marrero said he comes to the park every day with the idea of leaving the staff thinking, "Look what Marrero did today." So far, so good. 

"I'm just trying to go out there and be aggressive," he said. "I know (the opposing pitcher) is trying to get ahead, especially late in games. I think being aggressive in the zone is keeping me on pitches. I think (the staff) knows I can hit. But being in the National League, you've got to play defense. I'm out there early working in the outfield and showing them that I can do that."

It's hard to tell what the Giants will do at this point. Morse was pretty close to a lock, but it's wide open now. There are surprises every spring, and with a week left in Scottsdale, it looks like Marrero might just be that guy in 2017.

ICYMI: A very busy, busy morning down here. The big early news: Barry Bonds has returned to the organization. He'll be in camp Wednesday.

"He's been here before, this is not something that's new to us," Bochy said. "He'll help out just like the other guest instructors, (currently Will Clark and Rich Aurilia) and those guys. We could put together a pretty good team with all the instructors. More than anything, he'll work with Bam Bam and the hiters. We welcome him here."

There are no firm plans yet, but it's expected that this will open the door for a Wall of Fame ceremony, number-retiring, statue and all that in the coming years. 

TRAINER'S ROOM: The Giants will know more about Will Smith on Wednesday, but the early diagnosis is not good.

FAMILIAR FACE: Ryan Vogelsong was granted his release by the Minnesota Twins. Per their beat writers, Vogelsong asked for the move. This gives him a few extra days to try and find a rotation slot elsewhere. 

FLASHING THE LEATHER: Jimmy Rollins made the play of the day, running deep into left field for a basket catch of a flare that came one batter after a similar ball dropped in right-center. Rollins has proven over the past month that he can still play shortstop. He’s also hitting just .094.

GAME RECAP: Nick Hundley hit his first two homers of the spring, driving in four runs. He's batting .323 ... Cory Gearrin (cracked nail) returned to the mound and pitched an inning ... Madison Bumgarner pitched two innings and then went down to the bullpen to get up to 85 pitches for the day. That was the plan created by Dave Righetti so Bumgarner wouldn't have to face an NL West lineup three or four times. He'll see the Padres the first weekend of the season. When he was down in the bullpen, Bumgarner pretended he was facing all the hitters who were in the San Diego lineup on Tuesday. "I struck everybody out," he joked.  

QUOTABLE: There was a national story the other day noting that Denard Span hasn't looked good. The Giants disagree (Alex Pavlovic does, too) and Span has certainly looked pretty athletic over the past couple of weeks. He's running much better than he was a year ago, when he was coming off surgery. It seems Span saw that story. He lined a double off the left-field wall in the sixth and then tagged up and took third on a medium fly ball to right. 

"It was my last at-bat, I was coming out of the game. I didn't have anything better to do," he said, smiling. "It's spring training. Why not?"

A lot has gone wrong on the injury front the last few days, but most of the damage has been done to the edges of the roster. The leadoff hitter looks to be much-improved, and that's one positive to take away from this stretch of ball. 

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.