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What Giants' latest roster cuts mean for Opening Day battles

NBC Sports
Jason Vosler

Eight days before their season opener against the Seattle Mariners, the Giants took another step toward setting their Opening Day roster, removing six more players from camp. One of the two players optioned to Triple-A, Sam Selman, became a bullpen regular last year. The other, utility man Jason Vosler, saw his bid to crack the infield come up short. 

The Giants did not come to camp with an open spot and still don't have one, as they appear to be getting healthy at the right time. Brandon Belt, the only one of six set-in-stone infielders to miss significant time this spring, pinch-hit Wednesday night and will play first base Thursday. He hasn't given up on getting cleared to be the Opening Day first baseman after offseason heel surgery. 

If Belt needs to miss a few days, the Giants could carry outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. as an extra position player. A more likely option might be to go with 14 pitchers for the opening series, which would allow the Giants to keep several non-roster invitees in the bullpen. 

"He understood the landscape pretty well," manager Gabe Kapler said of Vosler. "You guys know the landscape pretty well, also, with the other infielders and corner outfielders we have. It's a tough group to crack."

Needing a versatile infielder who bats left-handed, the Giants went hard after Vosler when he hit free agency in November and signed him to a big league deal early on, but they later added Tommy La Stella, who fills the same holes and looks poised to start the year as their leadoff hitter. Vosler still looks like he'll see plenty of time in 2021, though, and he's the likely first call-up if there's an injury. 

 

The 27-year-old had a solid camp, hitting .304 in 16 appearances. He struck out 14 times in 46 at-bats, but also showed he can hit high-quality pitching, notching early doubles against Walker Buehler and Dustin May of the Los Angeles Dodgers. Vosler mostly plays first and third but saw time at second and the outfield this spring. 

"We discussed some of the improvements he's made with his swing, some of the quality of contact, but also the fact that he's had some difficulty this spring drawing walks and he's struck out a bit," Kapler said. "He called that out and understands that that's something that he has to continue to work on. He also understands that there's a nice path to help us win baseball games at some point this year even if it's not at the beginning of the season."

Selman had a solid season in 2020 but the Giants are absolutely loaded in the left side of their bullpen and will prioritize keeping inventory when it comes to filling out the group. It was the wrong spring to be a young relief pitcher with options remaining. 

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The Giants also reassigned outfielder Joe McCarthy and pitchers Silvino Bracho, Rico Garcia and Phil Pfeifer to minor league camp. McCarthy made the Opening Day roster last season but came into camp as a Triple-A depth piece. Bracho has had a nice spring and appeared to be in the mix for a spot until Wednesday. Garcia is going to have Tommy John surgery this weekend. 

With the moves, the Giants are down to 36 players in camp, 10 more than they'll need on Opening Day. The biggest remaining decisions will come in the bullpen, where they have 16 pitchers -- including eight non-roster invitees -- vying for spots. 

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