Giants

Johnny Cueto, Mark Melancon get work in against minor leaguers

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USATSI

Johnny Cueto, Mark Melancon get work in against minor leaguers

SCOTTSDALE — Members of the front office flocked to the organization’s minor league facility on Wednesday, and not just because the first day of games allowed a long look at prospects like Heliot Ramos and Jacob Gonzalez. Johnny Cueto and Mark Melancon were there for the day, and you could argue that they’re the two pitchers on staff who are most in need of turning the page from 2017. 

Cueto threw 70 pitches before handing the ball off to Melancon and giving him a fist pound. The closer threw 20 against minor leaguers. You can’t take anything away from stat lines when an All-Star is facing kids who have just started shaving, but both pitchers appeared pleased with the way they threw. While Melancon continues to push past some lingering discomfort, Cueto said he has no worries about his forearm or the blisters that hounded him last season. 

“Thank God, I don’t have any problems right now,” he said. 

Cueto will make one more start down here before taking the ball in Sacramento when the Giants play an exhibition at their affiliate upon returning home. After that, it’s the Dodgers. He said he has plenty of time to get his pitch count up, despite missing the start of camp because of the flu. 

Cueto topped out at 88 mph on Wednesday, but that’s normal for him this time of year. At times he appeared to be playing a light game of catch with Aramis Garcia, focusing on tightening up his changeup and breaking ball. 

“It felt really good out there,” he said. 

Melancon was pitching for the third time this spring. He sat 90-91 mph. 

--- Over on Instagram (pavlovicNBCS) there are a lot of photos and videos from minor league camp, including videos of Ramos and Gonzalez, and a cameo by a certain former Giant who once walked off the Cardinals.

Bruce Bochy says Steven Duggar will get look as Giants' leadoff hitter

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Bruce Bochy says Steven Duggar will get look as Giants' leadoff hitter

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Another day, another addition.

This time it’s Yangervis Solarte, and the former Padres and Blue Jays infielder has a good shot at making the roster. Here’s my story from this morning on Solarte, who still needs to pass his physical.

Solarte and Bruce Bochy spoke on the phone yesterday and the manager is psyched about the addition. He said Solarte will mostly play second and third, but Bochy liked what he saw of him at short in San Diego and that phone conversation included some discussion of playing left field.

Solarte even told the Giants he would be fine with center, but that ain't happening. 

“We’re excited to have him,” Bochy said. “We saw a lot of him in San Diego. A good player, can play a lot of positions, a switch-hitter. He’s a nice addition.”

Here are some more observations from Day 3: 

New Leadoff Hitter?

Steven Duggar (shoulder) and Ryder Jones (knee) took on-field batting practice for the first time since having surgery. Both looked good and shouldn’t face too many restrictions this spring.

As Bochy watched Duggar, he found himself thinking about the lineup. He said he hopes to have Duggar in one of the top two spots. 

“You look at the top of the order. That’s the first spot you think about,” Bochy said. “How it’s going and how they’re playing will dictate it but I think he’s a good leadoff hitter.”

Jersey Crunch

The Giants have retired so many numbers and have so many players in camp that they’re running out of numbers. So, Trevor Gott, who has big league experience, is currently wearing No. 91. And when the Giants signed a flood of veterans over the past week, some familiar numbers were given away.

Gerardo Parra will wear No. 8, formerly Hunter Pence’s number, and Rene Rivera will wear Matt Cain’s 18 if he’s on the roster. The clubhouse staff did agonize over all this as many fans do, but there was no other way. The only low numbers that remain are 5 and 22.

[RELATED: Giants continue discussing trade options as they wait for Bryce Harper]

Parra wore 8 with the Rockies and Rivera has mostly worn 44, which isn’t an option here obviously. 

Don’t Mess With Bumgarner

That’s the main thing we were reminded of today. Maybe he was imagining Yasiel Puig coming down the line?

Giants continue discussing trade options as they wait for Bryce Harper

Giants continue discussing trade options as they wait for Bryce Harper

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — For every move the Giants have made over the past week, the response from an anxious fan base has been the same.

“Uhhh, that dude isn’t Bryce Harper.”

The biggest name on the market remains on the market, but what do the Giants do if Harper chooses the Phillies or Nationals or Padres or some mystery team? Farhan Zaidi is working on Plan B, too, and that could involve remaining free agents or trades. The Giants do still need help in their outfield. 

“We’ve had trade conversations with teams about certain players that started in 2018 that kind of are continuing now,” Zaidi said. “It’s a little bit of a function of the slow market. I think with anything that’s a hypothetical, it’s a good idea to have alternatives and not put all your eggs in any one basket.”

The Giants won’t reach into any other basket until Harper has made a decision. There’s no available player that would match that production, but this offseason started with more humble goals and there are plenty of options on the trade market. If the Giants don’t get Harper, they seem well positioned to quickly pivot. 

In the meantime, Zaidi is padding out the rest of the roster. All offseason, he said he wanted catching depth. Stephen Vogt and Rene Rivera signed in the span of four days. Zaidi wanted a versatile infield piece, too, and Yangervis Solarte is on his way. He wanted a couple of outfielders, and Gerardo Parra fills one hole. 

[RELATED: Cueto drops 20 pounds, prepares for big step in rehab]

Zaidi will always tinker. That’s his nature. But he doesn’t want to add too many more players on non-roster deals because he wants the recent additions and the younger players in-house already to have a real opportunity to compete this spring. That was promised to the players already here, so don’t expect too many more who fit the mold of a Parra or Solarte. 

“We want competition but don’t want this to be a reality show or tryout camp,” Zaidi said. “You try to draw the line between feeling good about the guys you have but also not going overboard.”