PEORIA, Ariz. — As one veteran after another hit the disabled list last September, Jake Peavy often found himself taking the field surrounded by rookies. That stretch taught him something.
“From the outside looking in, you hear about ‘we don’t have any prospects … from the position player side it’s weak,’” Peavy said. “But that’s certainly not been the case since I’ve been here.”
The young hitters who tried to catch the Dodgers late last year are now trying to win roster spots, and they continue to impress. Jarrett Parker hit a long, loud homer on a 93 mph sinker from Andrew Cashner on Thursday, his third of the spring. Mac Williamson leads the club with four, and he’s batting .316 as he battles Parker and others for the fifth spot in the outfield.
“They’re exciting guys,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “They’re good young players with power. I turned Parker loose there 3-0 -- that was a good piece of hitting. They’re making it tough.”
Catcher Trevor Brown was the only Giant in the starting lineup for back-to-back games in Peoria (a traffic-heavy hour-plus from Scottsdale) and he took advantage of the playing time. After going 2 for 3 with 3 RBI on Wednesday, Brown knocked a two-run single Thursday and later drove in another run. Brown has already earned the trust of the starting staff behind the plate, and he’s hitting .400 this spring.
“(You see) the growth in such a short time,” said Peavy, who pitched to Brown during a Triple-A rehab assignment last summer. “I don’t know how high he was on the radar down there. I thought defensively he was really advanced (and you) watch what he’s been able to do with the stick.”
The Giants may end up keeping two of the rookies, or they may send all three down. Others, like Gorkys Hernandez — who threw a runner out from center — are pushing for bench spots. But the more Peavy and other veterans see of the next generation, the more they like.
“When you’re sending guys like that away, you feel good about the organization,” Peavy said.
HEALTH UPDATES: Gregor Blanco and Kyle Blanks were scratched from the lineup in the afternoon. Blanco said he probably just needs another day or two of treatment for back tightness, and he’s not concerned. Blanks, who is trying to make the team as a bench bat, has a right Achilles issue and it popped up during BP. Bochy said Blanks -- who had surgery on both heels last year -- is day to day.
There is good news, however, for banged-up starters Madison Bumgarner and Denard Span.
LOCKING IN: Peavy gave up eight hits in four innings, but two were flares to the outfield and another was a roller through the shift. He said he felt “free” physically, in part because he was making his first night start. “It’s nice to have a night game and work your way into the day,” Peavy said. “It’s nice that they’re starting to put more of them at night.”
Spring training is odd in that respect. Teams play mostly night games during the season, but to prepare for it they ... play almost entirely day games. It doesn’t make much sense, but that’s the way it is. Most of the night games down here are only scheduled that way because they’re on TV.
“I think my stats will tell you I pitch better in day games, but I certainly like night games,” Peavy said.
Yep. Last year Peavy had a 2.67 ERA under the sun and 3.87 ERA at night.
QUOTABLE: “He’s got a nice smooth swing. He’s exactly like he is on the pitcher’s mound. Nice smooth swing, good contact … After a good drive, after a good putt, he’ll strut it off, too. He’s definitely Dr. Smooth.” — George Kontos describing Javier Lopez’s golf game on my podcast. If you missed it, you can listen online here and download on iTunes here.