Giants will platoon right-handed bat with Parker in left field

Giants will platoon right-handed bat with Parker in left field

SAN FRANCISCO — Asked Thursday afternoon if he was more curious about Chris Marrero’s defensive or offensive adjustment to AT&T Park, manager Bruce Bochy said “both.”

Well, consider all the boxes checked off. Marrero had his best defensive game of the spring, easily handling a few routine flies to left and robbing Jaff Decker of a single with a diving grab. He doubled in two at-bats and came within about six feet of adding a solo homer. 

“He made a nice catch coming in and made all the plays,” Bochy said. “He had a couple of good at-bats. It was a good game for him. The first time here in left field, and it’s not an easy left field, he looked comfortable. He looked relaxed. All those things.”

Marrero’s shaky spring work in left was the only hole in an otherwise sparkling resume. He got tested twice in the early innings under new lights at AT&T Park, catching a pair of routine fly balls. He cut off a ball to the left-center gap and also ran down a Stephen Vogt liner. Decker’s flare in the fifth was snagged an inch before it touched grass. The only blemish was a throw to the wrong base, over the cutoff man. 

After hitting eight homers in Arizona, Marrero came a few feet from hitting one off the left field pole in his first at-bat. He ended up striking out, but he drilled a ball into Duffy’s Corner in his second at-bat, getting a double. 

Bochy still would not name Marrero to the Opening Day roster after the game, but he did note that the stakes have been raised for that spot. The Giants will have a platoon in left after originally saying they wouldn’t. They never intended on platooning Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson, but Parker will platoon with a right-handed bat, seemingly Marrero. Williamson will miss the start of the season with a strained quad. 

“I didn’t want to get into a platoon with (Parker and Williamson) because that’s not where a platoon makes sense,” Bochy said. “Williamson, he hits righties better than lefties. Plus you’re slowing down (Parker’s) development. It’s different with the guys we have.”

If Marrero does win that job, he’ll get a couple of early starts. The Diamondbacks will throw Pat Corbin and Robbie Ray at the Giants during the season-opening series. 

--- The fifth starter competition appeared to be over when Ty Blach took the mound for the seventh, two days after Matt Cain threw 99 pitches. Not so fast, Bochy said. Any announcement will wait until Friday. Bochy said Blach simply needed some work. He last pitched March 26, throwing six innings. 

If the Giants do name Cain the fifth starter and cut Blach down to a short-stint role, that last spring start will prove valuable. He got stretched out, and he should be ready to enter the rotation at any time. 

--- George Kontos has seven consecutive strikeouts and 18 in 10 innings this spring. The Giants have always been hesitant to give him a bigger role because he doesn’t have the traditional late-innings repertoire, but at some point, results are results. He wants a bigger role, and given how he’s looked the last couple weeks, maybe it’s time to see if he can be the right-hander version of what Will Smith would have been. 

--- Mark Melancon’s first outing at AT&T Park: two strikeouts, groundout. #NotTorture

--- The Giants announced a crowd of 39,380. The sellout streak doesn’t include exhibition games, but it’s going to be hard to keep that going this year if this team goes through a skid. 

--- The new LED lights at AT&T Park certainly changed the look. The field looked a little darker to my eye, but team officials insisted that wasn’t the case. There’s no denying, however, that the stands are significantly darker. I can see fans grumbling once the season starts. Giants people I talked to viewed it as more of an “indoor arena” look, with everything centering on the action on the field. 

--- Brandon Belt shook his head and smirked when his first swing at AT&T Park this season resulted in a long fly ball that died in front of the left-center wall. 

“Welcome to SF!” he joked later. “It was like, well, that goes out in Arizona.”

--- Brandon Crawford’s postgame victory soundtrack kicks off with “The Humpty Dance” this season. Strong. 

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.”

Will Clark says Steven Duggar can play 'Gold Glove center field right now,' trusts the bat too


Will Clark says Steven Duggar can play 'Gold Glove center field right now,' trusts the bat too

Will Clark won his first and only Gold Glove at first base for the Giants at age 27 in 1991. It was Clark's sixth year in the major leagues. 

Steven Duggar won't have to wait that long to win the biggest hardware for his defense in Clark's eyes. 

"He can play Gold Glove center field right now in the big leagues. He can flat out go get it in center field," Clark said on the Giants' prospect Tuesday on KNBR. "He can definitely, definitely play a Gold Glove center field." 

Clark, who now serves a role in the Giants' front office after playing in five straight All-Star Games for his former team from 1988-92, has watched Duggar closely for more than just this spring training. When asked about his feelings on the 24-year-old, Clark made them clear right away. 

"I've seen Steve parts of the last two seasons in the minor leagues and I am definitely a Steven Duggar fan," Clark said. 

The question with Duggar has always been his bat. He has elite speed, gets great jumps in center field and everyone from Bruce Bochy to Buster Posey has praised his ability to track down fly balls. 

"His thing is, how quick is he going to make the adjustment in the big leagues with the pitching. I know there's a lot of people that are asking that question right now," Clark. 

Count The Thrill as one of the leaders in Camp Duggar. He joined many others in complimenting his glove left and right. But what he has to say about the Clemson product's bat is what puts him over the top. 

"He's succeeded at each level he's been at," Clark pointed out. "He will do it at the major league level and I'm kind of staking my reputation on that."

This is confidence -- to say the least -- coming from someone who was a .303 lifetime hitter and bashed 284 home runs in 15 seasons. 

Over three years in the minor leagues, Duggar is a .292 career hitter with a .384 on-base percentage and .427 slugging percentage. Duggar started off scorching hot this spring with the Giants, but has cooled down with the Cactus League soon coming to a close. In 16 games, Duggar is slashing .250/.353/.545 and has shown more pop with four home runs.