Giants

What happens to Williamson when Pence returns? Bochy addresses issue

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USATSI/AP

What happens to Williamson when Pence returns? Bochy addresses issue

SAN FRANCISCO — The outfielders met on the field before batting practice Tuesday to do some extra throwing, and in left field Mac Williamson and Hunter Pence stood side by side. That’s fine at 4:15 p.m., but how will it work when Pence is healthy and both are eligible to play left?

“We’ll cross that bridge when Hunter is ready and we think he’s ready,” Bochy said. “They always tell you it’s a good problem, so hopefully we have a good problem here.”

Pence took early BP and later joined in with the regular session, and his thumb is said to be feeling good. He’ll be eligible to start a rehab assignment before the end of the homestand and Bochy said he would need a few games in San Jose or Sacramento. 

After that … it gets complicated. 

The issue isn’t as much about playing them both as it is about fitting both on the roster. Williamson has two monstrous homers in four starts and anything close to that production will keep him around. The Giants are in desperate need of that kind of game-changing talent. Pence was batting .172 at the time he was put on the disabled list with no homers. 

Austin Jackson is batting just .211 and was out of the leadoff spot Monday, but he was brought in as the starting center fielder and his problems don’t appear to be health-related. Gregor Blanco has a .817 OPS and is leading off against some right-handers. Gorkys Hernandez has a .708 OPS in limited time and Bochy likes his versatility as a defensive replacement. 

Throw in Andrew McCutchen and that’s six outfielders for five spots, and the Giants are not going to keep six outfielders on the active roster. These things often sort themselves out, and there’s some time before Pence is back and done with his rehab assignment, but an awkward situation doesn’t appear to be clearing anytime soon.

MLB rumors: Dodgers interested in outfielders Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock

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AP

MLB rumors: Dodgers interested in outfielders Bryce Harper, A.J. Pollock

The MLB Winter Meetings came and went. And we're still waiting to find out which team Bryce Harper will call his home. 

We know the rumors Harper would end up in a Giants jersey quickly circulated, but those flames were fanned out quickly once the pattern of Farhan Zaidi came to surface.

The Giants' new president of baseball operations is not in a position to hand out lucrative contracts -- especially ones of such tremendous nature. 

[RELATED: Zaidi making modern approaches to Giants]

That being said, the Dodgers, the Giants' NL West rivals, has been interested in acquiring not only the top free agent outfielder, but A.J. Pollock as well. He's also a wanted free agent. And the guy can straight up play when he's healthy.

Pollock is a career .281 hitter with an All-Star selection and a Gold Glove Award, and he even was in MVP talks in 2015. Yeah -- 2015 A.J. Pollock was such a good A.J. Pollock.

And with his abilities to play in different outfield spots, as Ken Rosenthal writes, and obviously at a cheaper price tag, Pollock actually is a more tantalizing free agent than Harper in that case. 

The latest rumors circulating around L.A. sings the normal tune of we need to clear some space and some salary. That goes without saying, but it also has a lot to do with possibly letting go of Yasiel Puig.

That's another article.

For now, it's strange to see the Giants starving for outfielders and not making any drastic moves. The current outfield situation is filled with young names, which means not a ton of experience.

The team's latest signing in Mike Gerber has most Giants fans praying that he turns out to be the next Max Muncy.

We have to wait to see if that'll happen, but the team, along with the 29 others, just want Harper, and Manny Machado, to make a decision already. 

If you're impatient, like me, some odds have been made in order to make the waiting game a little more fun:

San Francisco is listed in there, of course, but don't get your hopes up -- it's not in the characteristics of Zaidi, who appears to be on the path of cheaper players and short-term contracts.

But ...

That means he has his eyes open for some diamonds in the rough -- hopefully. 

Bruce Bochy ready to embrace platoons with more versatile Giants roster

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USA TODAY Sports

Bruce Bochy ready to embrace platoons with more versatile Giants roster

SAN FRANCISCO -- The first question to Bruce Bochy during his media session at last week's MLB Winter Meetings was about the use of openers.

It's a question Bochy likely will be asked quite a bit in 2019, because his new boss has made it clear the Giants will be creative with their pitching staff, but another theme from president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi's own sessions with the media will be much more important to the manager. 

Zaidi repeatedly talked about his desire to use platoons -- even noting that the Dodgers essentially had different full lineups for lefties and righties -- and Bochy is fully on board.

Bochy was on the other side of the equation last year when the Dodgers mixed-and-matched their way to another NL West title, and he's ready to have a few more options with the Giants in 2019. 

"I really believe in platooning when it's the right situation, I do," Bochy said on the latest episode of The Giants Insider Podcast. "Why not? It makes sense when the splits are that significant on a certain hitter. If you can get the right player (off) the bench, now you're getting everybody involved, you're resting guys, you're getting a better matchup. All these things make it easier for me."

Bochy always has used platoons with his own teams, especially with young players. On the current roster, it took Brandon Belt in particular a long time to gain his manager's trust against left-handed pitchers. But the last couple of seasons, the Giants simply haven't had the depth to truly embrace platoon life.

Zaidi's main focus early in the offseason has been adding depth and talent to the 40-man roster, giving his manager the ability to mix it up and give guys a break against tough matchups. 

Zaidi already has said he would like a platoon partner for outfielder Steven Duggar, and second baseman Joe Panik could find himself splitting time with a right-handed hitter. Others on the roster have splits that lend themselves to scheduled off days. Belt's OPS was about 200 points lower against lefties than righties last year, which could lead to Buster Posey getting more starts at first base against lefties. Even Posey's OPS dropped over 100 points against righties, and Evan Longoria had a notable drop-off. 

Switch-hitters Pablo Sandoval and Alen Hanson were virtually unplayable against left-handed pitchers, but both mashed right-handers, and that could lead to increased time for them next season. Sandoval had a .816 OPS against righties and Hanson was at .781 with all eight of his homers. 

Could you see Sandoval at third base more often against tough right-handed starters? Hanson in left field on those days? Zaidi hopes to give Bochy additional options. 

"We didn't quite have the depth sometimes to give a guy a break, but I know that's something he likes," Bochy said of Zaidi. "He likes versatility, and I agree. You've seen us move guys around, but to have a guy that's a good athlete -- to the point where he can play second and short and play the outfield -- those guys are invaluable for a team during the course of a season."

You can download The Giants Insider Podcast on iTunes. Bochy discussed openers, platoons, Posey's injury issues, Madison Bumgarner playing first base (seriously), his own future and more.