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New Giant Vosler making early statement in spring training

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The Giants had the stage set on Tuesday night. They played a televised game against the rival Los Angeles Dodgers, who brought ace Walker Buehler and hard-throwing young righty Dustin May across the valley. It was the perfect opportunity for Marco Luciano, the organization's top prospect in a decade, to start compiling highlights, but another Giants infielder stole the show. 

Jason Vosler signed early in the offseason and has kept his head down since, impressing coaches with his daily work in the cage and on the dirt both before and during camp, and he made a statement in a 1-1 tie. Vosler poked a double the opposite way off Buehler in his first at-bat and then later lined another double off May. 

"He's just been so consistent," manager Gabe Kapler said Tuesday in a postgame video conference. "He's done a nice job on defense, a nice job at third base. Even something as simple as the way he's running the bases with a lot of intensity. The swing looks good. He's barreling the ball up quite a bit."

Vosler, 27, has spent his whole career in the minors with the Chicago Cubs and San Diego Padres, and when the Giants signed him in November it seemed he had a path to a job as a needed extra left-handed bat on the infield.

The Giants have since signed Tommy La Stella for that role, but team officials view Vosler as part of the puzzle this season and someone who still potentially will play a lot over 162 games. The Giants liked Vosler enough to give him a big league deal in November when free agency had barely started, and he said their early interest stood out. 

 

"The Giants were really aggressive at the start," he said. "It seemed like the place to be. They seemed like they had a plan for me, knew a lot about me, and it seemed their interest in me was a lot higher than a lot of other teams."

Vosler might be blocked right now, but he's making an early statement, and if he keeps hitting this way, you can bet the Giants will find a way to get him involved. 

--- Kapler said there was no special meaning in Luciano starting this one. Brandon Crawford is being eased into action and Mauricio Dubon played center field. Still, it was a big chance for the 19-year-old, who struck out three times in his first Cactus League start but looked good defensively. 

Luciano went the distance at short, easily handling all four opportunities defensively, including a grounder that he flipped to second baseman Arismendy Alcantara to start an inning-ending double play in the third inning. He showed off his strong arm a couple of times and seems to have a good internal clock in his head on slower rollers. 

At the plate, Luciano wasn't waiting around. He came up in the third against May, who was hitting 100 mph, and fouled a fastball off to get to two strikes. May put him away with an 88 mph slider that might be the best pitch Luciano has seen in his life.

Luciano struck out in the fifth and then came up with two outs and the winning run on first in the seventh. Lefty Enny Romero pumped fastballs and Luciano fouled four of them off before swinging through one to end the night. 

"I really liked the last at-bat," Kapler said. "He did a nice job of attacking and not being thrown off by his earlier at-bats. Even though it's a spring training game it is the Dodgers and it was televised, so I imagine his adrenaline was running high. I thought he took some really good passes in his last at-bat."

--- Camilo Doval made his spring debut and showed off his good fastball-slider mix in a scoreless inning. Doval blew 97 mph past Devin Mann for an inning-ending strikeout.

Given how many veteran relief options the Giants have in camp, it's just about impossible to see Doval breaking anywhere but Triple-A. But like fellow hard-throwing right-hander Kervin Castro, he's someone you'll see at some point over 162 games. 

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--- Logan Webb has been working hard to sharpen his changeup, a pitch Kapler says will be key in his ability to take the next step, and he showed off a good one in a perfect first inning. Webb struck out Corey Seager on a 2-2 change and also got Mookie Betts to pop up and A.J. Pollock to fly out deep to center during the inning.

 

Webb is on the outside looking in now that the Giants have signed Aaron Sanchez, but he seems to be taking all of that in stride. He said he's trying to learn from Sanchez and fellow newcomer Scott Kazmir.

"It's been fun and I'm excited to compete with those guys," Webb said. 

--- Matt Wisler made his Giants debut in the second and Duane Kuiper asked, "Is this the slider master?" It is indeed, as Wisler threw his slider on an MLB-leading 83.4 percent of pitches last season. He was a little wild and walked Austin Barnes and Edwin Rios, but he settled in and got a couple of strikeouts, both, naturally, on sliders down and away. 

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