Veteran lefty Derek Holland 'in the mix' for a Giants' roster spot


Veteran lefty Derek Holland 'in the mix' for a Giants' roster spot

PEORIA, Ariz. — Derek Holland didn’t know much about the young Giants starters when he signed up to come to camp at Scottsdale Stadium. Because the White Sox faced the National League West last season, Holland had studied some film of hitters facing fellow lefty Ty Blach, but that was about it. 

He has spent a month getting to know the competition, and he likes what he’s seen. Most of all, he likes the fact that the competition is fierce but the team is close-knit. 

“There’s not one guy saying, ‘Hey, I hope you suck today,’” he joked. 

Holland hasn’t on his days. Because Johnny Cueto pitched at minor league camp in the morning, Holland started against the Mariners at night. He allowed just a solo homer in 3 1/3 innings, striking out four. In 11 innings this spring, Holland has allowed four runs and struck out 13. 

"You've got a pro out there that's showing good stuff, too," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He's commanding the ball well. You saw him in traffic and he's got good poise out there. He knows what he's doing, so he's in the mix."

Holland, 31, has been a starter throughout his nine years in the big leagues, and he said that’s still his focus. He can opt out of his minor league deal on March 24, but he said he’s not thinking about that yet. He also made it clear he’s not yet thinking about being this club’s long reliever. 

“My number one goal is to be a starter, but at the same time you’ve got to take what you get,” he said. “I’d be be blessed with the opportunity to be part of this ballclub.”

While Holland has impressed, so too have Chris Stratton and Blach. They entered camp with a leg up on the others, and both have thrown well. The Giants also may not need a fifth starter for the first couple weeks of the season, so a bullpen spot is the most likely path for any newcomers. It wouldn’t be hard for the Giants to squeeze Holland into a bullpen that currently has just one lefty — Tony Watson — and appears to have two spots available. Even if they slide Stratton or Blach to the bullpen early, they still could keep Holland and one other pitcher, perhaps Josh Osich — who has thrown extremely well — or Rule 5 pick Julian Fernandez. 

Holland said he’ll worry about what he can control, and about what he shows. This is an audition for the Giants but also for other teams that may sniff around later this month. After tailing off in the second half last year, Holland came in with a simple spring plan. 

“My goal was to show everyone that I’m healthy,” Holland said. 

He certainly has. Holland sat 91-92 mph most of the night but hit 93 a few times. He flashed a good curveball, getting out of a third-inning jam with a particularly nasty one to Mike Zunino. 

“I’ve seen kind of every side of him. He was throwing 95-96 (early in his career) and then he was battling injuries for a while and the velocity was down,” longtime American Leaguer Evan Longoria said. “It’s good to see the velo back up now. I think he could be a big asset for us if he can do what he did today.”

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


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.”