There were no surprises Thursday morning when the Giants had to cut their roster down from 30 to 28 players. Left-hander Andrew Suarez and outfielder Steven Duggar got optioned, although both will stay with the Giants as members of the expanded taxi squad.
Both young players fell victim to the schedule. Suarez was supposed to provide depth Wednesday, but Logan Webb ended up going five-plus innings and getting a lead to the bullpen. Duggar was helpful at Coors Field, but with the Giants facing a lefty (Kyle Freeland) in the finale and then Julio Urias and Clayton Kershaw in Los Angeles, they felt they could get by without the lefty-hitting Duggar.
"We've got Urias and Kershaw and it seemed like other players on our roster were really important," manager Kapler said. "We've seen some progress with (Duggar's) at-bats, they've gotten better. I know he felt especially confident at the plate. It was a difficult decision because he felt really good. He's such a professional. He understands."
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Duggar's exclusion means the Giants will stick with others, like Pablo Sandoval, who has struggled but hit the ball harder the last couple of nights, and Mauricio Dubon, who has a .549 OPS but could start against all three lefties the Giants are facing.
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The staff won't have to make those tough decisions in a couple of weeks. The roster was originally supposed to get cut to 26 two weeks from Thursday, but MLB and the MLBPA decided to stay at 28, with two additional taxi squad spots, as COVID-19 has impacted several teams already and pitchers have gone down around the sport. The taxi squad currently consists of Suarez, Duggar, right-handers Dereck Rodriguez and Andrew Triggs, and catcher Chris Herrmann.
"It's nice because I still think we're stretching out and building up the volume of our pitchers, so it's nice to know that we're going to have one additional pitcher," Kapler said of the late rule change. "Look, this is a really long, tough road trip to get through, especially when you have your starting pitchers not quite ready to get into the seventh and eighth and handle the real big workloads. We have to get through those with our bullpens, so it's certainly nice to have one additional pitcher even as far into the season as we are."