Giants

Are Brandon Belt, Giants’ backup infielders being seen as outfield help?

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AP

Are Brandon Belt, Giants’ backup infielders being seen as outfield help?

SAN FRANCISCO — It was an odd scene Friday.

Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi was the first to meet with reporters during the annual pre-FanFest session, and the first question he received was about Bryce Harper. Manager Bruce Bochy didn’t get five minutes into his own session before being bombarded with Harper questions.

Catcher Buster Posey, a couple of doors down, was asked about Harper several times. 

The Harper chase took up most of the oxygen in the room Friday, and for good reason. The Giants are serious about trying to sign Harper, a superstar they need, and on Saturday, there were some signs that the run might be successful. 

But that also meant that dozens of current Giants didn’t really have a chance to give many updates Friday. So here are some leftover notes from the first weekend back at Oracle Park … 

--- Ryder Jones had a gruesome knee injury last September, costing the young infielder a chance at real playing time down the stretch. Jones said he’s two weeks ahead of schedule in the rehab process and anticipates having a mostly normal spring, although he might miss the first week of Cactus League action.

It’ll be interesting to see how the Giants use him. Jones is open to working in the outfield, and some on the coaching staff have discussed it, but the injury might give the training staff some pause. 

--- I wrote last October about how much the staff loved Abiatal Avelino’s enthusiasm during a September cameo. That carried over into the offseason. Bochy said he regularly received texts from the young shortstop while Avelino played winter ball, which is not common.

He ended up playing in the outfield quite a bit and moving all over the infield, and that should continue into the spring. Avelino definitely will be a guy to watch, given Zaidi’s preference for versatility. 

--- The Giants signed Rene Rivera to a minor league deal Friday, according to Jon Heyman, but a few hours later, Zaidi again said he’s looking for catching depth. 

“Buster is feeling great, but having some additional depth there is going to be important for us going into the season,” Zaidi said. 

So … Nick Hundley? Well, a source said a reunion is unlikely. Hundley has been caught up in this rough offseason for players, and he’s said to be examining offers to enter big league camps on a minor league deal and try to win a job, similar to what Hunter Pence is doing with the Rangers.

If that ends up being the case, it shows you why players are so ticked off right now. Hundley signed one-year guaranteed deals the past two offseasons and gave the Giants plenty of value. 

--- The Giants announced Friday that John Andreoli and Derek Law cleared waivers and were outrighted to Triple-A. Both will be in big league camp. Mike Gerber is in the same boat. Honestly, that’s a good sign for this revamped front office.

A strong executive knows the true value of his players and has a good idea of when to take risks, and thus far Zaidi has read the room correctly, adding Andreoli and Gerber and keeping Law. They might not be big names, but no team likes to lose inventory, and the Giants have not by correctly choosing which players to put through waivers.  

--- Brandon Belt and Cody Bellinger are very different types of players, but given how often Bellinger played center field for Zaidi’s Dodgers, it’s been easy to wonder if he’ll throw Belt back into the mix in left. Zaidi’s body language when asked left the impression that he doesn’t love the idea. 

“As we sit right now, we see him as our everyday first baseman. We want him to primarily be focused at first, but I think we’re going to try to get him out there (in left) in camp because you just never know how the season is going to unfold,” Zaidi said. “We want him to at least be prepared to do it.”

--- Before Harper became a thing, there was a lot of talk about the Giants and the Raiders striking a deal to let the NFL team play at Oracle Park next season. Well, it sounds like it's no longer happening. That session with Brandon Crawford and Buster Posey produced some of the lighter moments from FanFest, including this exchange: 

KNBR host: "How do you get the rights to the boombox in the clubhouse?

Crawford: "It's 2019. We don't have a boombox."

The shortstop still is the clubhouse DJ, though, and as he prepares this year's victory soundtrack, he might have to make an adjustment. Crawford and Chad Chop always got together in spring training to come up with the playlist while shooting jumpers at Crawford's Scottsdale home.

But Chop, part of the replay team the last few years, was let go at the end of the season, and officially has caught on with the Dodgers ... 

Giants, A's to play pair of exhibition games ahead of 2020 MLB season

Giants, A's to play pair of exhibition games ahead of 2020 MLB season

It turns out there will be a preview for the Bay Bridge Series in 2020.

The Giants and A's will play two exhibition games against each other next week, with each hosting one of the contests.

[RELATED: MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season]

Coronavirus forced a reduction of the 2020 regular season to just 60 games, but the rival squads still will play their normal six-game season series, with three games in San Francisco from August 14-16 and in Oakland September 18-20.

Although fans won't be in attendance for either the exhibition or regular-season contests between the Giants and A's in 2020, the crosstown rivalry likely will bring an added intensity to the matchups.

For many fans, it'll just be nice to have some live Bay Area baseball back on the airwaves.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

MLB opt-out tracker: Every player who has declined to play 2020 season

It's extremely common to hear about a player opting out in baseball. Stars have often had opt-out clauses for the final year of their deals, and in recent years many have given themselves the ability to opt out after just a year or two of a massive contract. At the end of every spring, non-roster invitees opt out to look for a better opportunity elsewhere. 

But this season, those two words take on a different meaning. 

Under a March agreement reached by MLB and the Players Association, high-risk players can opt out of the 2020 because of coronavirus concerns and still get paid. Players who are not deemed to be at a high risk can also opt out while surrendering their 2020 salaries and service time.

On the first day of the week MLB was set to return, four players opted out. Here's a rundown of where the list currently stands as of July 10.

Mike Leake (Diamondbacks starting pitcher)

The 32-year-old was the first to publicly make his intentions known. Leake's agent told reporters that the right-hander "took countless factors into consideration, many of which are personal to him and his family." There has been some speculation that Leake had family concerns; his father was paralyzed in an accident a few years ago and that's in part why he ended up close to home with the Diamondbacks.

Ryan Zimmerman (Nationals first baseman)

Zimmerman is exactly the type of player you would think of when it comes to guys who had a difficult decision to make in recent weeks. He's 35 and now is a part-time player, and he's set for life financially and got his ring last October. In a statement put out by his agency, he made it clear this is about concerns for his family, which includes a mother with multiple sclerosis:

Joe Ross (Nationals starting pitcher)

Ross, a 27-year-old Bay Area native who is the younger brother of Tyson, also opted out June 29. He did not immediately release a statement. Nationals GM Mike Rizzo said Zimmerman and Ross decided "not to participate in the 2020 season for the personal health and safety of themselves and their loved ones. We are 100 percent supportive of their decision to not play this year."

Ian Desmond (Rockies outfielder)

The 34-year-old announced his decision at the end of a series of Instagram posts that examined injustices in baseball and society. It was a powerful statement, and one you should read in full here:

View this post on Instagram

On my mind.

A post shared by Ian Desmond (@i_dez20) on

Tyson Ross (free agent starting pitcher)

It was a bit of a surprise when Ross was released by the Giants last week. As a veteran who could start or come out of the bullpen, he seemed like a good fit for what they were building in March, and an even better fit in a season with no true five-man rotation. But this seems to explain the decision: 

David Price (Dodgers Pitcher)

Price announced his decision to opt out of the 2020 season on social media during the holiday weekend. The southpaw didn't get specific on the reasoning behind it, but said the decision was in the "best interest of my health and my family's health." 


Felix Hernandez (Braves pitcher)

Another former Cy Young award winner has decided not to play during the 2020 MLB season.

Felix Hernandez, who won the 2010 AL Cy Young while with the Seattle Mariners, won't suit up for the Atlanta Braves this season, he agent tweeted Saturday night.

After spending the first 15 seasons of his career with the Mariners, Hernandez signed a minor-league contract with Atlanta this offseason. He will turn 35 next April, when the 2021 MLB season is expected to start.

Nick Markakis (Braves outfielder)

Markakis on Monday morning decides to opt out of the 2020 season, the Atlanta Braves announced. 

This comes after Braves first baseman Freddie Freeman tested positive, which was a big factor in the veteran's decision. Markakis, 36, hit .285 with nine homers last season for Atlanta.

Hector Noesi (Pirates pitcher)

Noesi on Wednesday opted out of the 2020 season, Pittsburgh Pirates manager Derek Shelton announced.

Noesi, 33, went 0-3 and posted an 8.46 ERA across 12 appearances with the Miami Marlins last season.

Buster Posey (Giants catcher)

The Giants catcher became the biggest name to opt out of the MLB season to date, announcing Friday he won't play in 2020. Posey and his wife just adopted twin girls who were born prematurely last week, and he cited their health as his primary concern.

"After weighing it for a long time, talking to doctors, I just feel like in the current state that we are right now and these babies being as fragile as they are for the next four months, at minimum, this ultimately wasn't that difficult a decision for me," Posey said. From a baseball standpoint, it was a tough decision, from a family standpoint and feeling like I'm making a decision to protect our children, I feel like it was relatively easy."

Jordan Hicks (Cardinals Pitcher)

Jordan Hicks was originally planned to miss a chunk of time in the 2020 season as he recovered from Tommy John surgery that he underwent in June of 2019. But he's also a Type 1 Diabetic which as Belleville News-Democrat reporter Jeff Jones says, could lead to complications from coronavirus.