DENVER -- It's easy to forget sometimes how long the baseball season is, especially when you include nearly two months of spring training. There will be dozens of roster moves, multiple trades, debuts by guys most fans have never heard of, and countless slumps and hot streaks.
When you step back and take a 500-foot view, any one transaction really isn't that noteworthy. And yet the latest return of Mac Williamson felt more significant, like another twist in a drama.
"It feels like it's been a long saga," Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said, smiling. "But it's May 7. That's not that far into the season for him to be coming back."
The Giants played 35 games before summoning Williamson, but there's a reason this transaction carried so many layers. This is a homegrown player who has now spent parts of five seasons in the big leagues but has never really been given the runway to win a job. This is a power-hitting outfielder who still may break through for an organization starved, above all, for power-hitting outfielders.
When you step back and look at what Williamson could mean to the Giants, it's easy to see why every transaction including his name is a big deal. And when you look at everything that's happened to him in the last year alone, it's easy to see why Williamson took the field Tuesday thinking this may be his final chance to make it in orange and black.
"I would definitely assume it's my last opportunity with the Giants, but I don't think it's my last opportunity in baseball," Williamson said. "If I can just relax and be the hitter I started to become last year, I'd like to think I can pick it back up and run with it. But this game isn't easy."
No it's not, and that's why Zaidi said this isn't as dramatic as stating "this is Mac Williamson's last shot." But at the same time, Zaidi cut Williamson at the end of camp, giving 29 other teams the opportunity to claim him. There's some urgency here, and Williamson certainly played that way in Triple-A.
The return to the big leagues was a big one. Williamson reached base three times, hit a three-run homer, and drove in four runs. In five plate appearances, he raised the OPS of Giants left fielders by 44 points. That's hard to do a fifth of the way into the season, and it shows you the impact he made, but also just how bad it was in left before Tuesday night.
Most of the guys who previously have tried to fill the hole were on a short leash. The Giants gave Connor Joe just 15 at-bats. Michael Reed got eight. Mike Gerber lasted just a long weekend in Cincinnati.
But Zaidi and manager Bruce Bochy both said that Williamson returned as the everyday left fielder, and that he would get a significant opportunity to win the job.
In a weird way, this maybe couldn't have happened a month ago. If Williamson made the Opening Day roster and struggled -- and he did have a rough spring -- he likely would have gone the way of Joe or Reed, getting cut quickly so others could get a shot. Instead he returned as the hottest hitter in the organization.
That wasn't always easy to take. Williamson said he confronted members of the organization about how clear it was that he would be released after 29 other rosters had already been set. Zaidi certainly should look back and wonder if he misevaluated the whole situation.
But in the end, Williamson is here in early May, and not because he was simply out of options. He's here because he tore the cover off the ball in Triple-A.
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"He's clearly on a roll," Zaidi said. "I think when you do it over a sustained period like he has over the last few weeks in Triple-A, you earn a little bit more of the benefit of the doubt than if you just kind of make the team as a default.
"He's in a better spot to hit the ground running and I think we're more committed to playing this thing out because of what he's shown in the first month."