Giants

Giants have until Friday morning to make decision on Nuñez

Giants have until Friday morning to make decision on Nuñez

CHICAGO -- Eduardo Nunez's hamstring strain has been slow to heal, but that wasn't a negative in the wild card game. The Giants won on a homer by his replacement, Conor Gillaspie. 

Against Jon Lester, the Giants could certainly use their speedy third baseman, but Bochy said Thursday that Nunez will not be ready to start Game 1 of the National League Division Series. The Giants have not yet decided if Nunez will be on the roster for the series. They have until 10 a.m. Friday to decide. 

"We're going to try to get a little workout out of him now to kind of see where we're at, and we'll have to make that determination here," Bochy said. "Can he start tomorrow? No. But it's a five-game series. If we think he can help coming off the bench, maybe start the back end of the series, then we probably would activate him."

Given the lack of progress, it seems unlikely that Nunez would be able to start any of the games in Chicago, where the tarp was on the field all day Thursday and more poor weather is expected. But the Giants don't have a lot of right-handed pinch-hit options, and Nunez could provide a boost against Lester later in a Game 5, or potentially against left-handed closer Aroldis Chapman. 

--- Bochy did not reveal his Game 2 starter, saying the staff was still in discussions. Matt Moore and Jeff Samardzija are the options, with Madison Bumgarner lined up for Game 3. Bochy said he would announce a choice on Friday. 

--- Johnny Cueto did not double down on his "we'll see who has the coconuts" thought from the September series here. But Cueto did continue to harp on the theme that he's thrilled to be pitching against the Cubs. 

"They have a very young and talented team," he said through interpreter Erwin Higueros. "I felt that in a series like this, the best team should win. When you get to this stage, you have to show up and win the games. It really doesn't matter what happens in the past."

Cueto said his groin (strained in his second-to-last start) is 100 percent healthy. He was the only Giant to take the field Thursday, playing long toss with bullpen catcher Taira Uematsu. 

--- During Bochy's press conference, he was asked about superstitions and started to tell the famous story about Ryan Vogelsong. 

"I know a lot of players have their own, including what meal they have," he said. "Vogelsong, I forgot his meal. What was it, spaghetti?"

"Chicken enchiladas," he was told. 

"Oh ... that," he said. "I was almost close."

What will Giants bullpen look like on Opening Day?

ap_19063835521926.jpg
ASSOCIATED PRESS

What will Giants bullpen look like on Opening Day?

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The first free agent signing of the Farhan Zaidi Era was a reliever. One of two Rule 5 picks was a reliever. Two of the three players added to the 40-man roster before that draft were relievers. The Giants stockpiled non-roster options and even had Nick Vincent, who has plenty of big league success, walk into the clubhouse once camp had already started. 

You can never have too many relief arms, and on the last day off before they return home, the Giants are still evaluating plenty of them. They have 14 pitchers still in camp who could claim they are vying for bullpen jobs, and it's likely to be just an eight-man group on Opening Day. 

Zaidi and the staff have nine days to figure it all out, and less time in some cases where veterans might have opt-outs looming. Here's a look at how the bullpen race is shaping up as camp nears an end ... 

Will Smith, Tony Watson, Sam Dyson, Reyes Moronta

We're grouping them together here because they're locks to be at Petco Park a week from now -- unless one of the gets traded. 

Mark Melancon

Bruce Bochy declined to name his closer early in camp, briefly talking up Melancon, who says this is the healthiest he has felt since coming to the Giants. And yet ... he has allowed runs in five of six spring appearances, has given up 13 hits in 5 2/3 innings, and has watched three homers leave the yard. Melancon's stuff just isn't there and hasn't been for two years, and this would probably be a pretty easy decision if you took the contract situation out of it. 

The Giants still owe Melancon $28 million, though, and that would be a hell of a contract to swallow, so he's probably a relatively safe bet to make the roster. At the same time, it should be noted that Zaidi had nothing to do with that contract and won't take any blame if he cuts Melancon loose, either now or during the season. 

Chris Stratton and Ty Blach

Similar in that both have had some success starting for the Giants but now find themselves in the long reliever mix. Stratton is out of options, Blach is not. That usually is what ends up making the decision this time of year. Stratton also could be a trade candidate as teams look to fill rotation holes in the next week. 

Andrew Suarez

Veterans have spent all offseason and spring talking about how unfair the system is to older players. It is more unfair to guys like Suarez, who had a strong rookie year but may begin the season in Sacramento because he's making the MLB minimum and has options remaining. Suarez could be the long man or a third lefty reliever at some point, but that seems unlikely in April. 

Tyler Beede

He looked like Archie Bradley early in camp, and perhaps the Giants will still slide him into that role. But for now they'll stretch him out to start in Triple-A, and that's the right move. Beede should make an impact this year, just not right away. There are executives in the organization who feel he'll be locked into the rotation later in the season. 

Travis Bergen

Zaidi said he will carry three lefties in the bullpen, and the Rule 5 pick responded with a huge spring. He has struck out 10 in 8 2/3 scoreless innings and it's hard to see how the Giants let him get away at this point. "He has the weapons to get big leaguers out," Zaidi said earlier this month. It looks like Bergen, who has a deceptive fastball and good breaking ball, will get that shot after the Blue Jays let him get away. 

Steven Okert

He had a nice September and came to Scottsdale in good shape, but he has allowed five earned runs in seven spring appearances and it's hard to see how he beats out Bergen at this point. Okert is out of options. 

Ray Black

He has elite velocity and spin rates, making him the perfect project for the analytics people the Giants have brought in. But he's not out of options, so there's a chance the Giants will let him start the year in Triple-A to protect someone like ... 

Trevor Gott

Acquired from the Nationals at the start of camp, the right-hander has pitched 6 2/3 scoreless innings this spring and struck out 10. He's out of options. 

Nick Vincent

The last man to walk in the room has had an okay spring, but he does have a track record of success in the big leagues. This is exactly the type of reliever you would love to have in Triple-A, knowing that he'll be needed for 30 appearances over the course of the year, but Vincent can opt out of his deal by the end of the week, according to Andrew Baggarly of The Athletic. In past years that would be a concern, but given the way the free agent market went -- especially for guys like Vincent -- perhaps that's a risk he won't want to take?

Prediction

If the season started today, the guess here is that the first four guys listed above would be joined by Melancon, Bergen, Stratton and Gott. But Zaidi has hinted strongly throughout the spring that he could trade a reliever. Stay tuned.

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

SAN FRANCISCO -- Early in camp, a Giants veteran looked at a group of young players sitting at a card table and joked that he didn't recognize half the guys in the room. That's no longer the case. 

The Giants, after two more rounds of cuts, are down to 39 players in big-league camp, and most of them are familiar to fans. We have hit the point of the spring where guys who were seriously fighting for jobs are seeing that dream end, so as we did last week, let's take a look at who got cut and who might return at some point ... 

March 14: Outfielder Austin Slater and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte optioned; right-hander Derek Law and infielder Zach Green reassigned to minor league camp.

It was a disappointing spring for both Slater and Venditte, who were in races for a backup outfield job and bullpen spot, respectively. 

Slater hit .185 in 12 spring appearances, with just one extra-base hit. The staff asked him to make some swing changes in the offseason to add more loft and hopefully tap into his raw power, but it continues to be a work in progress. More than just about anyone, Slater really could use an everyday role in Sacramento to try and continue to figure out the new swing. He's just 26, offers positional versatility, and could help balance the lineup from the right side, so a breakout would solve a lot of the big league roster's bench issues. 

Venditte was the first free agent signing of the Zaidi era, but he never got on track, allowing seven runs in six appearances. Even at 33, he had a minor league option remaining, so he seems a good bet to shuttle back and forth this season as the Giants embrace some of that Dodger way of handling a pitching staff. At the very least, the switch-pitching thing continues to be remarkable. 

Law was knocked off the 40-man just before camp, but came in optimistic about the way he was throwing. He made just four appearances, allowing a pair of runs. Law's future is murky. If he can get untracked and find that 2016 form, the Giants would be thrilled to add him to the mix. But he's off the 40-man now, so the road back will be a long one. 

Green, 25, was an interesting addition, and he had a nice month, posting an OPS over 1.100 in 23 plate appearances and hitting a couple of homers. It'll be fascinating to check Sacramento's box scores early in the season. Will Zaidi keep giving shots to guys like Slater and Ryder Jones who have been with the organization for a while, or will newcomers like Green jump the line? Green hit 20 homers in the high minors last season and could soon be the next man up at the corner infield spots. 

March 17: Outfielder Mike Gerber and infielder Levi Michael reassigned. 

Anonymous to most fans, these two are guys to keep an eye on.

Gerber was the first player Zaidi acquired for the Giants and they got him through waivers, and onto their Triple-A roster. He had eight hits in 19 spring at-bats, and might have had the plate appearance of the spring, shaking off a head-seeking fastball from a tough Rangers lefty to line a two-run triple into the gap as the Giants nearly pulled off a wild comeback a week ago. He's an outfielder who can play all three spots, and simply has good plate appearances, which is something lacking in this organization. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him get a shot in the outfield this summer. 

[RELATED: Giants top prospect Bart awarded for impressive spring]

Michael played three infield spots this spring and has handled the outfield in the minors. He has always been a high OBP guy in the minors, and reached at a .400 clip in limited action this spring. Does that sound like the type Zaidi might want on the roster? Yep. 

The Giants will carry 13 pitchers more often than not, and might need a third catcher at times. Anyone with versatility -- Michael, Breyvic Valera, Alen Hanson, etc. -- will have a leg up when decisions are made.