SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — On the surface, it appears that the Giants are getting a bunch of old Padres together. Drew Pomeranz. Rene Rivera. Yangervis Solarte. Cameron Maybin.
Put perhaps the real link among most the free agent additions is a player who has years of experience facing the Padres.
Solarte, who checked into camp Sunday, said he spent the offseason working out with Pablo Sandoval at the Bommarito gym in Miami. Parra and Rivera also worked out there, along with Dereck Rodriguez, Sandoval’s prized recruit last offseason. Manager Bruce Bochy said Sandoval encouraged him to add his workout partners, all of whom are here on minor league deals, as Rodriguez was last spring.
“He was in my ear. Pablo was in my ear,” Bochy said. “We had the (Coaching Corps Game Changer Awards) three weeks ago, but even before that I talked to him and he said he was working with those guys and they’re available.”
Of all the players added recently, Solarte might have the best odds of making the team. He hit 17 homers last season and can play all four infield spots as well as left field, and that could make him a good partner for Sandoval as backup infielders.
Even with a strong track record, Solarte, 31, had to wait until February to find a job. He said he doesn’t mind that it didn’t come with a starter designation. He knows he’ll get plenty of time if he makes the team. Asked about the state of free agency, he used a common phrase, except in Spanish: "He who laughs last, laughs best," he said through interpreter Erwin Higueros.
“You all are aware of the situation with free agents, and just like you guys talk about it, we think about it," Solarte told reporters. "I knew that eventually I would be on a team."
Sandoval hoped all along that it would be the Giants, in part because it'll be a reunion. He played Little League with Solarte in Venezuela, and later they played with Parra on a youth national team. Sandoval enjoys being Director of Recruiting, but at times he didn't need to say much. He said Solarte, Parra and Rivera all liked the Giants already, having played at Oracle Park and faced the Giants while in the division with other teams.
Still, at times there were questions, and Sandoval was happy to answer them. He said the Giants have added good players, but also personalities that will enhance the clubhouse.
"These guys are going to have fun," Sandoval said. "We're loose and we're going to have fun here, but the team is also going to respect the game and play it the right way."