Sources: Giants to call up left field prospect Austin Slater

Sources: Giants to call up left field prospect Austin Slater

UPDATE (11:40am on Friday) -- The Giants called up Austin Slater and designated Justin Ruggiano for assignment, the team announced.


SAN FRANCISCO — The Giants are not yet ready to take a sledgehammer to their roster, but they’re clearly ready to start chipping away. 

Austin Slater, a 24-year-old outfielder, will meet the club in Philadelphia, per sources. Slater is expected to see plenty of time in left field. He was hitting .322 for Triple-A Sacramento with four homers and 12 doubles. 

Asked about Slater earlier in the week, a team official said the club didn’t want to call him up for a part-time role. It is likely, then, that Slater gets a long look in left field, a black hole for the Giants all season long. 

Slater, originally from Florida, played collegiate ball at Stanford. He was an eighth-round pick of the organization in 2014 and shot through the minors, impressing in a Triple-A cameo last season. In 68 games for the River Cats in 2016, Slater hit 13 homers. The Giants hoped that would continue in spring training, but a hand injury suffered in winter ball sapped Slater of much of his pop. He finally got going in May, hitting .353 and slugging .525. A couple of weeks ago, manager Bruce Bochy said the reports on Slater were good, and he was looking forward to seeing him. 

The Giants were going to call Slater up one way or another this season, as he had to be put on the 40-man roster at some point in 2017. It appears he’ll now get a shot at making an impression in left field, where the Giants have mostly turned to converted infielders in recent weeks. 

Slater is viewed as a corner outfielder, although he has experience in center. The Giants also recently recalled Orlando Calixte, and perhaps that’s a hint at coming roster moves. Gorkys Hernandez and Justin Ruggiano, the other center field options, would appear to be on the chopping block, as Calixte can handle all three outfield spots. The Giants also have been discussing a move with Christian Arroyo, who has barely played over the past week and could be looking at another stint in Triple-A. 

In addition, the Giants will likely have to add another minor leaguer when Hunter Strickland starts serving his suspension. Strickland is waiting to hear back from MLB, but the Giants will not go a man short in the bullpen for any significant period of time. 

Giants starter Jeff Samardzija to get MRI on right shoulder


Giants starter Jeff Samardzija to get MRI on right shoulder

The Giants almost made it through spring training with no serious injuries.

But as they get set to leave Arizona for the Bay Area, Jeff Samardzija is dealing with a shoulder issue.

On Wednesday, Samardzija pitched in a minor league game. He gave up two homers, hit a batter in the fourth inning and was pulled from the game.

A day later, the Giants announced that Samardzija will undergo an MRI on his right shoulder. According to The San Francisco Chronicle, results of the MRI will be known later Thursday evening.

Samardzija's numbers in official spring training games this year are ugly. In 11 innings, he's 17 hits, 13 earned runs and six home runs.

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.”