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How infielder Wisely is showing off versatility with Giants

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The Giants have reached the point of camp where regulars are getting stretched out and top prospects are sent back to minor league camp. They're also reaching the point where the guys in between will do whatever they can to show they're ready for the big leagues. 

The talk of camp has been Blake Sabol, who has emerged as the hottest bat in the catching competition and also started in left field Monday in case the staff decides to keep him around as a third catcher/outfielder. The starter in center field on Sunday was also an intriguing young hitter who could use some alternate paths to playing time this season.

Brett Wisely is a middle infielder who might be third in line at shortstop -- behind Brandon Crawford and Thairo Estrada -- but he's athletic enough that the Giants want to experiment. Last week, Wisely did work in center with Gabe Kapler watching from a few feet away. Kapler came away thinking Wisely was a natural in the outfield.

Wisely has a couple of homers in seven spring appearances. He mostly has been working alongside Isan Díaz, a middle infielder who could be next in line at second base if Estrada gets hurt or is needed elsewhere. Díaz homered on Saturday and is 7-for-21 with two homers this spring. 

 

"Díaz has really swung the bat well and Wisely has, as well, but also shown some interesting defensive versatility," Kapler said. "I've been really pleased with the early stages of his work in the outfield. I think, for obvious reasons, that's an important thing to be considering right now."

The Giants got Austin Slater back in the lineup Sunday after a bout of elbow soreness, but in general, they could use more center-field depth. Mike Yastrzemski will start there with Slater facing lefties, but Wisely, who currently is set to start the year in Triple-A, hopes to make himself an option, as well. 

The Giants added the 23-year-old in an offseason trade with the Tampa Bay Rays. Wisely has a .835 OPS in the minors, where he made just three appearances in the outfield, all in left. He said he never played an inning in center before Sunday's game against the A's. 

The first test was relatively uneventful, and Kapler admitted there's not much Wisely can show in limited time here to prove he's ready to roam Triples Alley. But adding another position would make him more valuable to a team that expects to see both Wisely and Díaz at the big league level this season.

"With Wisely, I think there's less track record of outfield work, but there's a lot of athleticism and transferable characteristics from the work that he's done in the infield to go out in the outfield," Kapler said. "It's a very explosive first step, a really nice job of getting his hips and shoulders turned in the direction of the baseball from an instinctive level. He's an accurate thrower, he knows how to change his arm angle and throw over the top. He gets rid of the ball pretty quickly. 

"Infielders who try to look like outfielders, it's just kind of weird sometimes. Infielders go out there and they try to use their infield strokes and that doesn't feel right, and then they try to use their outfield stroke and it takes too long. The early stages of Wisely, it's natural. It looks good."

--- Luis Gonzalez never turned a corner after being sidelined early in camp with a back injury, and after the Giants sent him to Los Angeles to consult with a spine specialist, the decision was made to have surgery that will repair a herniated disc.

Gonzalez will start the season on the 60-day IL and miss the whole first half, at least, and he'll now officially miss the Mexico City trip at the end of April. That's particularly disappointing to the Hermosillo native, who had also hoped to represent Mexico in the WBC before insurance concerns made that impossible. 

The Giants have taken a couple of hits to their outfield depth, but they're still in pretty good shape from the left side. In addition to Michael Conforto and Mike Yastrzemski, Joc Pederson and LaMonte Wade Jr. can slide out there as needed and Sabol is looking more and more likely to break camp with the team. 

 

--- Reliever Luke Jackson (Tommy John) is doing well and should face hitters before the end of camp, but he's another candidate to start on the 60-day IL. The Giants could have two spots to work with at the end of camp, with one likely going to Roberto Perez, a non-roster catcher.

--- The injury news is much more positive on the minor league side, where games started Tuesday. On Monday, Marco Luciano faced 2022 second-rounder Carson Whisenhunt in a simulated game and he's looking likely to be ready for the start of the Double-A season after missing most of big league camp with a stress fracture in his back

Whisenhunt was chosen one round after Reggie Crawford, who threw a bullpen session Monday as he continues to work his way back from Tommy John surgery. The Giants are going to be extremely careful with Crawford, a lefty who hits triple digits on the mound and also has plus power at the plate. 

He'll join Low-A San Jose at some point but isn't going to exceed 50 innings this year, and it's possible it'll be much less than that. This isn't all about Tommy John; Crawford pitched just eight innings in college so he'll be brought along slowly in the low minors, but the Giants are thrilled with the way he has looked and team officials rave about his makeup.

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--- Will Crawford get to play both ways this year? That's still to be determined, but the Giants saw over the weekend that there's a lot of risk. 

Pitcher/first baseman Ronald Guzman walked off the mound after throwing a pitch to the backstop, but an MRI showed a pronator strain and he'll avoid surgery for now, which is great news. Guzman looked like a strong bet to help the big league bullpen at some point this year but he'll now likely miss at least a couple of months.

--- Anthony DeSclafani hasn't appeared in a Cactus League game in a while, but he's still on track for the start of the season. He pitched a simulated game at the minor league facility on Monday, with Perez catching.