SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Nobody upped their stock last September more than Aramis Garcia, who hit four homers in a late-season audition and impressed the staff with how far he has come defensively. But even in the midst of that run, Garcia knew he had a lot more work to do.
The young catcher spent part of September questioning teammates about private hitting coaches they used in the offseason. He settled on Craig Wallenbrock, a renowned instructor in Southern California. Garcia was so committed to making changes that after he got married in the offseason, he spent the first six weeks of marriage traveling to Santa Clarita on weekends to work on his swing. Garcia also worked with hitting coach Alonzo Powell at the team facility in Scottsdale.
“I just knew that I had to make some adjustments,” he said. “There were some inefficiencies in my swing that I had to clean up.”
Garcia primarily has been focused on working the middle of the field, and during the first couple of weeks of batting practice this spring, he repeatedly peppered the gaps and went the other way with ease and power.
“That’s been a real revelation to me,” Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said after his first extended look at Garcia. “The power has been really impressive.”
Garcia has two homers this spring, including one off the scoreboard against the A’s last weekend. He has a .823 OPS with decision time quickly coming up.
The Giants need a durable backup early because Buster Posey will be slow-played, and Garcia and veteran Rene Rivera have separated from what originally was a large pack. Stephen Vogt eventually should enter the mix, but he likely won’t be ready for Opening Day as he recovers from a shoulder injury. The Giants must decide if they’ll go with Rivera, who has been there before, or see if Garcia can continue his progress at the big-league level.
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They left the door open, not re-signing Nick Hundley, in part because of what Garcia showed in September. He’s eager to build off that, and he’s enjoyed a month-long competition for the backup job.
“I didn’t expect them to just give (me the job),” he said. “They’ve always brought veterans in, and I enjoy it. You get to work with guys that have been around and you can pick up on things. It’s just great being able to be around these guys.”