Giants

How would Giants use Shohei Ohtani? 'That's very flexible for us'

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AP

How would Giants use Shohei Ohtani? 'That's very flexible for us'

At this point, the story is known of Shohei Ohtani's talents as a two-way star in Japan. There are still questions, however, to how that would translate to Major League Baseball, especially in the National League. 

“He played outfield in Japan, he’s very athletic, he’s got quick feet, a very athletic body, he’ll service well in the outfield,” Giants GM Bobby Evans said Wednesday on the Garry & Larry Show

Ohtani actually has not played in the outfield since 2014. He only played eight games between left and right field in 2014 and has only played 62 career games in the outfield in five seasons as a pro. The 23-year-old also dealt with a lower leg injury in 2017. 

[GALLERY: The file on Shohei Ohtani]

“He did have some lower leg injuries as well as only pitched 25 innings last year, so it will be a build up physically," Evans said. "For whatever club he plays for he’ll have to build back up.”

This past season, Ohtani played in 65 games as a DH, hitting .332 with eight home runs. On the hill, he tossed 25.1 innings and went 3-2 with a 3.20 ERA. 

If the Giants do indeed sign Ohtani, they have said there's a plan to get him 300 to 400 at-bats. At what position in the outfield, is not yet clear, even for Evans. 

“It ultimately depends on our outfield makeup, but we see his ability to play all three (positions),” Evans said. “That’s very flexible for us. There’s certainly advantages to left field in our left field, but we’re not pigeon-holing him to one spot right now.”

As a pitcher, Ohtani has never tossed more than 160 innings in a season. He took the mound every seven days in Japan compared to MLB pitchers toeing the rubber every five. Expect a schedule much like Ohtani is used to in Japan if he joins the Giants' staff. 

“He’s been starting once a week in Japan, so he starts every seventh day,” Evans said. “It’s a little different over there so I don’t know that you would expect him to come over here and start every fifth day.

"Our kids, even in the minor leagues, we don’t start them but every six days so I wouldn’t expect him to come over here and pitch a whole lot more frequently than he did over there."

The wait continues to see where the prospect considered the Babe Ruth of Japan will ultimately begin his career in the majors.

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

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AP

Report: Tim Lincecum throws 90-93 MPH at showcase

Tim Lincecum was back on a mound Thursday, trying to prove to teams once again that he still has a little bit of magic left in his right arm. 

The former Giants star held a bullpen session for scouts Thursday in Seattle. The event was closed to the media, but Jon Heyman of FanRag Sports reports that between 25 and 30 scouts were in attendance. 

And Lincecum may have some of his velocity back. According to Heyman, Lincecum was sitting between 90 and 93 miles per hour. 

Lincecum last pitched in 2016 with the Angels. In that season, his fastball averaged just 88.4 miles per hour. In nine starts with the Angels, Lincecum was nowhere near what he once was and went 2-6 with a 9.16 ERA. 

The Giants planned to be at Lincecum's showcase, according to Insider Alex Pavlovic. 

Over nine seasons with the Giants, Lincecum posted a 108-83 record and a 3.61 ERA. He won back-to-back National Cy Young awards in 2008 and 2009, was a four-time All-Star and led the league in strikeouts three times. 

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

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USATSI

Slater fighting for outfield job after Giants' offseason overhaul

SCOTTSDALE — Catchers are usually the only position players to hit on the main field during the first few days of spring training, but Austin Slater snuck into a group Thursday to take a few cuts. With manager Bruce Bochy leaning against the back of the cage, perhaps Slater’s session will serve as a reminder: I’m still here, don’t forget about me.

The 25-year-old broke through last summer before injuries halted his progress. As Slater focused on getting healthy this offseason, Bobby Evans focused on overhauling the outfield. That has left several familiar faces in precarious spots, and Slater finds himself fighting for a fifth outfielder job a year after batting .282 in his first 117 big league at-bats. 

At the same time, he’s trying to balance competition with health. He wants to push for an Opening Day job, but also is very aware that he needs to back it down at times as he recovers from sports hernia surgery.

“You want to prove that you can play here and win a job, but (the staff) stressed health over everything,” he said. “It does no good to push and then start the season on the DL. For me, health is the most important thing. I feel like if I’m healthy I can prove myself. There’s nothing I can prove on the DL.”

Slater originally tore his groin on July 8 and the Giants thought it would prove to be a season-ending injury. He worked his way back ahead of schedule, though, seeing limited action before sports hernia surgery the last week of September. “They went in there and cleaned up the groin,” he said, smiling where others might grimace. The procedure kept Slater from playing in the Dominican Republic as planned, although that might have been a blessing in disguise. 

The Giants were aggressive with their winter ball plans because so many young players got hurt during the season. But Jarrett Parker lasted just 24 hours before being sent home with a health issue. Christian Arroyo’s hand swelled up soon after he arrived, and he headed home. Ryder Jones immediately got food poisoning and lost 12 pounds in just over three weeks before player and team decided a mutual parting would be beneficial. 

Slater stayed home throughout, living in the Bay Area and rehabbing. The Giants told him to focus on his rehab instead of lost at-bats and then come out and try to win a job in Scottsdale. By mid-November, he was hitting again. By Thanksgiving, he was on a regular lifting and running schedule. In late January, he felt like his old self again. 

For the Giants, that means a versatile option in a new-look outfield. Slater had a .290/.343/.430 slash line going before his first injury and he’s working to tap into more power. As Bruce Bochy pointed out Thursday, Slater has a long history of putting up numbers at every level. 

“He really did a nice job of figuring out what it takes to play in the major leagues, and he has a tendency throughout his career to just get better,” Bochy said. “You have to love his right-handed bat. He’s got some pop. I think he can play all three outfield positions, so he’s in the mix.”

The Giants have Andrew McCutchen in right and Hunter Pence in left and Austin Jackson as the third guy, and Bochy’s preference is to have a true center fielder as his fourth outfielder. That leaves Slater fighting for the fifth job, alongside many others. No matter what he did last year or does this spring, Slater has options remaining, and that will come into play. A year after using 13 different players in left field, the staff is intent on having greater depth at the Triple-A level. 

Slater is a Stanford product who spent the offseason surrounded by Giants fans. He knows the math after the offseason moves.

“It doesn’t change anything,” he said. “It just adds some great guys to learn from, and there are still outfield spots to be won, so it’s not discouraging, it’s encouraging. I didn’t expect them to keep an open roster spot for a guy with 120 at-bats. We’re trying to win a championship here.”