Giants

Giants' starting outfield taking shape as Opening Day approaches

Giants' starting outfield taking shape as Opening Day approaches

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants were missing a couple of their regular infielders Tuesday night, but the outfield was one you very well could see in two weeks when the players take the field at Petco Park. 

If the season started today, Mac Williamson would be the left fielder and Gerardo Parra would be in right, flanking Steven Duggar, who looks ready for an everyday job in center and plenty of time atop the lineup

One thing could change all this: The Giants are still searching for a right-handed bat on the market. They were in on Adam Jones, per a source, but not all that high on him, and he's now a Diamondback. People within the organization do expect president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi to swing a deal before Opening Day, though.

"We've got to," one team executive recently said. "We need another bat out there."

Zaidi repeatedly has said deals still could get done as rosters are cut down. Until he makes one, though, here's a look at where the Giants' outfield stands:

Steven Duggar

Health was the most important thing for him this spring and his shoulder is at 100 percent.

The Giants haven't turned him loose yet -- he's not allowed to dive in the field and got thrown out on a would-be triple because he wasn't supposed to dive for the bag -- but Duggar has looked good and talks excitedly about lofty goals he has set for his first full season. 

Mac Williamson

The hope is that the 2018 March/April breakout is real. Williamson has hit just .207/.281/.379 this spring but is poised to get his first real extended opportunity in the lineup.

The Giants desperately need the right-handed thump. 

Gerardo Parra

Stand around the clubhouse and ask veterans why they're optimistic and you'll almost certainly hear them gush about Parra, a longtime NL West opponent. He has been strong defensively and gives the Giants a legit arm in right field. At the plate, he has a .866 OPS in 11 Cactus League games.

Parra is not the perfect fit because he adds another lefty bat, but he'll see plenty of time this season, and the Giants certainly need the energy he brings to the field and the clubhouse. 

Cameron Maybin

He has just six hits in 30 at-bats and got a DUI a couple of weeks ago. That's not exactly how either side drew this up. But Zaidi said the off-field incident will not be a factor, calling it "an unfortunate situation" that Maybin "took ownership of."

"The primary driver is going to be us evaluating whether he can help this team and help the organization," Zaidi said. 

Here in mid-March, the Giants view Maybin as their fourth outfielder, with a tentative plan to have him often sub for Williamson defensively late in games. They're hoping his revamped swing locks in late in the spring, and the at-bats have been better in recent days.

"I think he's working on his timing but as he kind of gets his timing and starts working the middle of the field, I think we could see him take it up another level," Zaidi said. "I don't think we've seen the best of him yet, so I'm looking forward to seeing what he does these last couple of weeks."

Austin Slater

A coach stood and watched Slater take BP the other day and talked of how desperately the Giants want the 26-year-old to figure it out. But he's at just .174 this spring with one extra-base hit. 

Slater is versatile defensively, has a great arm, and has worked on adding loft to his swing, so if he ever figures it out he could become a big part of the outfield mix. But for now he's just about a lock to get optioned back to Triple-A. 

Drew Ferguson

The Rule 5 pick was featured here this morning. He has a .476 OPS in Cactus League action. The Giants like his makeup and skills, but right now he's still got an uphill climb ahead of him. Ferguson could be kept as a fifth outfielder, but the staff also needs to figure out whether that's needed with Yangervis Solarte also an option for left. 

In an ideal world, the Giants could send Ferguson to Triple-A to play every day and work his way up. But that's not how the Rule 5 rules work.

"It's find a spot for him or lose him, so that definitely factors in," Zaidi said. 

Perhaps the new president can find a creative workaround as he tries to fit Ferguson in with veterans and guys who are out of options. 

The Rest

Chris Shaw was optioned out on Monday.

Right-handed bats Anthony Garcia and Henry Ramos are intriguing talents, but neither has had the big spring that was needed to crack the roster.

[RELATED: How Giants' spring training cuts so far could have role in 2019 season]

Long-term, keep an eye on Mike Gerber. He had a very impressive at-bat Sunday, shaking off a first-pitch fastball near his chin to deliver a big ninth-inning two-run triple off a hard-throwing Rangers lefty. Gerber has seven hits in 17 at-bats. 

Giants' Mauricio Dubon shares hilarious story of meeting Hunter Pence

Giants' Mauricio Dubon shares hilarious story of meeting Hunter Pence

Mauricio Dubon is living the dream of every young Giants fan right now. 

Dubon moved to Sacramento when he was 15 years old to live with a host family -- leaving his family in Honduras -- in order chase his dreams of playing baseball. He attended his first Giants game as a teenager in 2010, sitting in the center field bleachers as Tim Lincecum pitched the Giants closer to a division title. As a young shortstop he idolized Brandon Crawford, and now is his teammate and will be Crawford's double-play partner on many occasions this season. 

When Dubon first made his Giants debut in late August after being acquired in a trade with the Milwaukee Brewers, he certainly could feel his fandom come alive. The same can be said for when the team brought Hunter Pence back this offseason.

"The first time I saw Hunter at FanFest, I asked for a picture, actually," Dubon said on the latest episode of The Giants Insider Podcast. "I asked him for a picture, yeah. 2014, with the whole speech and everything -- as a fan, you kind of get excited. As a player, you get even more excited." 

Dubon said he had to get away from the Giants' veteran players last year when guys like Tim Lincecum, Angel Pagan and many others came back for Bruce Bochy's final game as San Francisco's manager. The young infielder simply couldn't help but get giddy seeing his childhood heroes. Dubon even used Pagan's salute celebration in high school. 

Now with Pence in the fold and Pablo Sandoval returning to San Francisco, Dubon doesn't see why the Giants couldn't shock the world again once the season returns amid baseball's suspension due to the coronavirus pandemic.

[RELATED: How Dubon is staying ready after missing first Opening Day]

"I keep telling people that when were we favorites -- I say "we" as a fan -- when were we favorites to win a World Series in '10, '12 and '14? Never," Dubon said. "So why's it gonna change right now?

"We have the same veterans. Same hunger, probably even more. We got guys that are willing to do anything to win a game. I think we have a pretty good chance of [winning] the whole thing." 

Dubon is expected to be manager Gabe Kapler's do-it-all utility man up in the middle at second base, shortstop and center field this season to keep his athleticism in the lineup. And while his fandom always will live within him, he could be a major key to the Giants brining their next World Series trophy back to San Francisco.

Inside Giants' 2012 World Series sweep of Tigers from reporter’s view

Inside Giants' 2012 World Series sweep of Tigers from reporter’s view

Programming note: Watch the re-air of the Giants' 2012 World Series sweep of the Tigers today from 8 a.m. PT to 8 p.m. PT on NBC Sports Bay Area.

It was about 4 a.m. when my boss called, and as I stepped into a hallway at the Renaissance Center Marriott, the lobby party was still going.

The end of a World Series is a release for the players physically and mentally, but the same holds true for the media and all the behind-the-scenes staffers who are there every day that extra month. 

You spend a month working long days and nights, eating dinners out of sandwich boxes handed out in the press box -- the good days are the ones when you get there early and snag a chicken pesto -- and planning your travel a day at a time. Earlier in that 2012 postseason, I sat in the lobby restaurant at the Cincinnati Westin and watched the Giants file out and head for the airport. They were on the tarmac when the Cardinals beat the Nationals, and they found out they were going home instead of to D.C. I quickly canceled my flight to the nation's capital and smiled as I realized I didn't have to buy a winter coat the next morning on the way to the airport.

So when the World Series finally is over, it's a release and a bit of a party, and the Renaissance Center in Detroit was ready for the dozens of reporters who descended upon the lobby after Game 4.

It was a nice home for beat writers that week, mostly because it was freezing outside and you didn't have to leave the building to find food. There was a food court in the lobby of the massive building, and you can't ask for much more than that when the temperature outside is in the 30s. I ate a lot of chicken nuggets that week.

The lobby was rocking that final night, because there's not much to do in downtown Detroit, even when it's warm. But I was pulled away when my boss called and asked an urgent question.

"Have you been paying attention to Hurricane Sandy?" he asked.

I hadn't. It was cold in Detroit and wet at times over the previous couple of days, but anyone there was focused on the Giants and the Tigers. I didn't realize how bad Sandy had gotten, and when I think back to that 2012 World Series -- which will air today on NBC Sports Bay Area -- that's what I remember the most.

Sure, there was Pablo Sandoval's three-homer game and Ryan Theriot's slide into the plate. Barry Zito beat Justin Verlander and Sergio Romo froze Miguel Cabrera, but what I've always remembered most about that week was a mad scramble to get out of town before the airports shut down, and the words a young Buster Posey said earlier that night after the Giants had completed the sweep.

"It was a big win -- I know that sounds silly," Posey said, his voice getting serious in the middle of a celebration. "But they would have had Verlander tomorrow."

I've always thought about the last part of that quote. On paper, the 2012 World Series was a demolition, but a playoff series can turn on one hit, as the Giants proved that entire month. They won a record six elimination games to reach the World Series, stunning the Reds and then the Cardinals. They ended the postseason with seven consecutive wins, outscoring the Cardinals and Tigers 36-7, but Posey knew they couldn't give the Tigers any kind of opening.

With a win in Game 4, the Tigers could have regrouped, and they would have lined up behind Verlander, who finished second for the Cy Young that year. The Giants also knew the weather was coming, and it would hit hard. The day after Game 4, waves on Lake Michigan hit 20 feet, and schools outside of Detroit closed because of power outages. The World Series likely would have been disrupted, and perhaps a loaded Tigers team would have regrouped.

The Tigers had Verlander and Max Scherzer in their rotation, along with midseason addition Anibal Sanchez and the underrated Doug Fister. Current Giant Drew Smyly had a 3.99 ERA for Detroit that season, but the rotation was so stacked that he was sent to the bullpen. The lineup featured Cabrera, the MVP, and Prince Fielder, who hit 30 homers in the regular season.

That was a really good team, one the Giants couldn't afford to let off the mat. They stunned the Tigers in four games, from Verlander's reaction to Sandoval's homers to Romo's fastball that ended up being the final pitch of 2012.

That Giants team is remembered for the comebacks, but they also should be remembered for putting the hammer down when they had to, locking up a sweep. They made sure the Tigers never caught their breath, never got a chance to come back after the weather cleared and let Verlander try to make it 3-2.

"I'm just glad the whole world got to see what this team is about," Ryan Vogelsong said after Game 4. "Starting with Game 5 of the NLCS, we played our best baseball of the season."

[RELATED: Ranking Posey's best walk-offs]

The Giants held a parade two days later, and because of that 4 a.m. phone call, I was there to cover it. I hung up and switched my flight, then ran to my room to pack and head to the airport.

I was on a 6 a.m. flight to Chicago, and from there, it was smooth sailing. Just about every connecting flight was canceled later that day, and I know some of the other reporters had to drive hours to reach an airport that could get them back to San Francisco.

Everything could have looked so much different had the Tigers won Game 4, so as you rewatch those games today, remember the trait that Giants team showed on the final day of the season. They refused to give in for weeks, and when they had a chance to put the Tigers away and win a second title, they proved to be ruthless.