Giants

Joey Bart, three other Giants are intriguing Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow

Joey Bart, three other Giants are intriguing Duane Kuiper, Mike Krukow

The Giants will have some interesting roster decisions to make when Summer Camp wraps up in a few weeks.

Unlike a normal spring training when the team would break camp with a 25-man roster, manager Gabe Kapler will take an initial 30-man roster into the abbreviated 60-game 2020 MLB season.

Guys that might have missed the cut in March might make the expanded roster now.

For Giants broadcasters Mike Krukow and Duane Kuiper, there are a few bubble players they are hoping make the team. Some you've heard of, some are lesser known.

"I want to see some more of Joey Bart," Krukow told NBC Sports Bay Area's Kelli Johnson last week. "He was quite intriguing when we got to see him in spring training. He look like he's in the comfort zone and he's ready to make a contribution."

Bart, the No. 2 overall pick in the 2018 MLB Draft, is arguably the Giants' best prospect. During spring training in March, the 23-year-old catcher recorded seven hits in 16 at-bats and connected for two home runs.

While Bart is on the Giants' 60-man roster, he's expected to go train at the alternate site in Sacramento to begin the season. Right now, the team would rather have him get consistent work than sit behind Buster Posey at the big league level. Of course, everything could change if Posey decides to opt out of the season.

[GIANTS INSIDER PODCAST: Listen to the latest episode]

Krukow also wants to see left-handed pitcher Tyler Anderson, who faced the Giants seven times over the last four season.

"When we saw him two years ago, he was one of the best left-handers in the league," Krukow said. "And then he fell flat last year, completely fell out of grace in the eyes of the Rockies. He wasn't hurt. He was mechanically screwed up, I think he had a few little minor problems. But I think he's going to be ready to go once they reconvene and I think that's an intriguing matchup, him in that ballpark."

During the Rule 5 draft in December, the Giants used one of their picks to claim right-handed pitcher Dany Jimenez from the Toronto Blue Jays.

"[Jimenez] threw the ball really well," Kuiper said. "He's got to make the team, otherwise you give him back. And it looks like with this roster expanded now, I mean, why wouldn't he make the team?"

In seven innings pitched over six relief appearances for the Giants this spring, the 26-year-old posted a 2.57 ERA.

Kuiper mentioned one other Giants prospect, though this pitcher didn't make the 60-man Summer Camp roster.

"The other guy, he hasn't had a lot of years in the minor leagues, the Sean Hjelle kid, the kid that's 7-foot-3, something like that," Kuiper said. "I mean, he's so intriguing that you'd almost like to have him on the roster just so you could see what people would react to when you walked through the lobby of a hotel. It would be awesome. 'Well, there's the baseball team,' 'No, that's not a baseball team. Gotta be a basketball team, right?'

"So I want this kid on the team, and maybe he's got a chance to make it."

[RELATED: Posey, Belt face inevitable risk]

Kuiper likely won't get to see Hjelle this season, but 6-foot-11 pitcher is expected to be a big part of the Giants' future.

Jimenez and Anderson likely will pitch for the Giants this season, and Bart could see time if an opportunity to get him consistent at-bats presents itself.

Why Farhan Zaidi is shrugging off Giants', Gabe Kapler's early hiccups

Why Farhan Zaidi is shrugging off Giants', Gabe Kapler's early hiccups

The Giants have dropped five of their last six games after losing the series opener to the Los Angeles Dodgers on Friday night. They've committed several more errors than games played, and are the only team in the league without a quality start to this point.

Often times, it hasn't been pretty. Though San Francisco had been a pleasant surprise record-wise prior to the current road trip, the reality of the situation is that the Giants don't have a roster that you would confuse with the typical contender.

Gabe Kapler has had some slip-ups, but as president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi explained to 95.7 The Game's "Damon, Ratto and Kolsky" on Wednesday, he isn't concerned about his manager.

"He has a challenging job right now," Zaidi said, "because ... this is a lineup, a roster, a pitching staff that sort of needs to be managed pretty actively. We don't have five workhorses in the rotation who are going to throw seven innings where you just hand the ball to your setup man and your closer. He's obviously having to mix and match a lot on the pitching side, on the position player side we're trying to use the entire roster. We're platooning some, that means pinch-hitting some. 

"And when you're a manager and you have to make that many moves -- as many moves as our roster kind of behooves right now -- every time you make a move ... you're making a lot of 55/45, 60/40 bets that get scrutinized and if they don't work out, the onus kind of falls on you. ... But again, I look at some of our best wins this season and they've come from a lot of the decisions that he has made. So, we think this is the way to manage our roster that gives us the best chance to be competitive and win games, and I appreciate that he's willing to pull the trigger and be aggressive with a lot of these moves."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

Kapler's self-admitted most embarrassing mistake to date occurred in last week's extra-innings loss to the San Diego Padres in which he forgot about the new rule requiring pitchers to face a batter following a mound visit. He owned up to it immediately following the loss and shouldered the blame, which Zaidi found to be plenty satisfactory.

"What happened with going out to try to get Tyler Rogers in that extra-innings game last week," Zaidi continued, "I think he owned up to it, it was just a mental screw-up. He has been around the game a long time, had a long career and he just owned it. It was a tough inning, there was a lot of things going on. I'm sure there was a lot of stuff going on in the dugout. I just wrote that off as kind of a mental screw-up, which he owned up to and we turn the page."

[RELATED: Stat, odd moment show how poorly Samardzija has started]

Given the state of the Giants' roster and the general unprecedented gameplay in this shortened season, it's easy to see why Zaidi is willing to cut Kapler some slack and give him the benefit of the doubt. 

Kapler hasn't exactly been dealt a winning hand, and it would be a significant surprise if he turned it into one right away.

Jeff Samardzija's rough start to season displayed by stat, odd moment

Jeff Samardzija's rough start to season displayed by stat, odd moment

There's a stunning stat from Jeff Samardzija's first three starts that shows how much he's struggling right now, but perhaps in this case all you need is an exchange from the Giants' loss Friday night. 

When Samardzija grazed Dodgers utility man Kiké Hernandez to load the bases in the fifth inning, Hernandez insisted over and over again to the home plate umpire that he had not been hit by the pitch. It was a strange sight, and the Giants even challenged the call -- with no luck -- to try to send Hernandez back to the box, but it seems that it's not a good sign that he wanted to be there in the first place. 

The Dodgers were remarkably comfortable against Samardzija, who is coming off a solid year but has had a nightmare start to 2020. In a 7-2 win over the Giants, they were quiet the first time through the order, then busted out for three homers the second time through. 

Samardzija walked off the mound in the fifth with the bases loaded. For the third time in three starts, he was charged with five earned runs. 

"I think he had a little bit of a lack of fastball command," manager Gabe Kapler said. "This is a very difficult lineup to get through even if you're locating your pitches."

[BALK TALK: Listen to the latest episode]

The Dodgers proved that with the three homers, which brings us to the stunning stat. In three starts, totaling just 13 2/3 innings, Samardzija has allowed six homers but struck out just five batters. Right now, he doesn't have the stuff or command to put hitters away. 

"Too many times we're getting these 0-2, 1-2 counts and battling for too long," he said. "We need to make sure that when we're getting them in the hole, we're finishing them. You give these big league hitters too many opportunities, they're going to take advantage of it. We've got to get them up and set them down as fast as possible."

Samardzija actually looked marginally better in the first three innings, getting six pop-ups and shallow fly balls. But those turned to homers the second time through, dropping the Giants into too large a deficit. The loss was their fifth in six games and put them five games behind the Rockies and 4 1/2 behind the loaded Dodgers after a little over two weeks of action. 

It won't get any better without a sharp turn from the starting pitchers, and the Giants don't have an obvious solution right now if Samardzija keeps struggling. Drew Smyly will be reevaluated when the road trip ends next Wednesday. Swingman Tyler Anderson already is needed for Smyly's spot. 

[RELATED: Reyes Moronta joins alternate site]

The Giants will hope the stuff improves and the command returns for Samardzija, at least enough to make hitters look less comfortable than Hernandez did. 

"He didn't think it hit him," Samardzija said. "I told him it must have hit his jersey or something. They're all gamers over there, they all want to play. I respect those guys a lot. He's just being honest. It's a good quality."