The last time the Giants went to Seattle, they ended up booking an emergency flight back to San Francisco to escape wildfires, leading to an odd two-game series at Oracle Park where the Giants played as the road team. This trip to the Pacific Northwest will be a lot more fun.
Opening day always brings optimism, and on Thursday, the Giants will be playing in front of fans for the start of what should be a normal 162-game season. They'll be doing so with a lot of familiar faces, some important newcomers, and Buster Posey, who is back as the starting catcher after opting out of 2020.
Posey was a lock for opening night once he checked into Scottsdale Stadium, but other decisions had to be made. The Giants have not yet announced their opening day roster, but they made four more moves Tuesday morning, getting down to 27 players with one -- Alex Wood -- who is almost certainly going on the IL. So, barring a late waiver move or trade -- always a strong possibility with Farhan Zaidi and Scott Harris! -- they have their opening night 26-man roster. Here's a look at who made it, who didn't, and who ended up being a spring surprise:
Catchers (2): Buster Posey, Curt Casali
Infielders (6): Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Donovan Solano, Evan Longoria, Tommy La Stella, Wilmer Flores
Outfielders (5): Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson, Mauricio Dubon, Austin Slater, Darin Ruf
Starting pitchers (5): Kevin Gausman, Johnny Cueto, Logan Webb, Anthony DeSclafani, Aaron Sanchez (Alex Wood on IL)
Bullpen (8): Jake McGee, Matt Wisler, Jarlin Garcia, Jose Alvarez, Tyler Rogers, Caleb Baragar, Wandy Peralta, Reyes Moronta
Biggest surprise: Given that they had 43 pitchers in camp at one point, it seemed likely the Giants would send a few of the younger ones with options to their Triple-A roster and try to prioritize non-roster invitees. But Zaidi never seemed all that worried about opt-outs this spring, and in the end he seems to have kept nearly all those pitchers in the organization without disrupting the 40-man roster.
Baragar, Peralta and Moronta were three who could have been optioned to start the year, clearing the way for a Nick Tropeano or Zack Littell type, but all three made it. Baragar and Peralta were on the roster last year and pitched well, with Baragar in particular looking like he's got a meatier role ahead in 2021. Moronta had a slow start to the spring and his velocity wasn't great, but he looked much better over the final couple of weeks. If he can get back to his pre-surgery form, he could wind up pitching the eighth or ninth.
Biggest omissions: In another year, Jason Vosler and LaMonte Wade Jr. would have been in the mix, but the Giants came to camp with 13 position players headed for the opening day roster and all left healthy, meaning there were no jobs to be won there.
The biggest omission, then, would be Tropeano, a right-hander who can start or relieve and had a good spring, striking out 13 and allowing three runs over 10 innings. He appeared in line for a spot as a long reliever, but perhaps the Giants decided they don't need one at the start of the year. They have two off days over the first eight of the season. Tropeano could still be with the team in Seattle as a member of the five-player taxi squad.
Biggest relief: As late as mid-March, there was a lot of doubt about Brandon Belt being ready for Thursday night's game. He came into camp rehabbing after heel surgery and then came down with mononucleosis, keeping him out of workouts for weeks. But Belt got into four games before camp ended and will keep getting live reps this week. He won't miss the opener, as he did last year.
"Getting Belt ready for opening day, I think, is a really impressive accomplishment," manager Gabe Kapler said Monday. "There's a lot of credit there, from Belt to the medical staff to the coaching staff. I think we all collectively worked really hard to get him ready."
Injury of note: Wood came down with back tightness after his first Cactus League appearance and had a minor procedure before returning to workouts. He threw in a simulated game over the weekend and Kapler said he looked great, but he didn't have enough time to build back up and reclaim his rotation spot. Logan Webb, who had the best spring out of anyone on staff, won one of the five jobs and Aaron Sanchez gets the final spot over Wood, who should be ready in a couple weeks.
Number to know: 5
The Giants are carrying five left-handed relievers, which has to be some sort of franchise record (we'll let the Giants' excellent PR staff do the hard research here!) McGee will likely begin the year as the closer and Baragar could provide length given that there's no true long man. The three-batter minimum is still in play, but Kapler feels really good about the way all of these guys can handle right-handed hitters. It's an unusual look, but should pair well with a rotation that has five right-handed starters.