Pat Venditte

Giants make flurry of moves, add Mac Williamson before Rockies series


Giants make flurry of moves, add Mac Williamson before Rockies series

DENVER -- After their starters got destroyed in Cincinnati, placing a heavy load on the bullpen, it was clear the Giants had to add some depth to the pitching staff. But they're shaking up the lineup and bench, too. 

Outfielder Mac Williamson and infielder Donovan Solano had their contracts purchased Tuesday, and left-hander Williams Jerez was called up. The club parted ways with free-agent additions Yangervis Solarte and Pat Venditte and optioned Mike Gerber back to Triple-A after he went 1-for-15 in four games in Cincinnati. 

Gerardo Parra, DFA'd last Friday, also elected to become a free agent on Tuesday, meaning the Giants have already cut bait with a significant portion of what was a modest offseason free-agent class.

Venditte, a switch pitcher, was the first player who signed a big league deal under Farhan Zaidi. Utility man Solarte and outfielder Parra made the team after signing minor league deals in spring training. 

Williamson's addition is the big story, as the 28-year-old is getting what almost certainly will be his final chance to stick with the organization that drafted him in the third round seven years ago. A concussion ruined Williamson's push for an everyday job last year and he was designated for assignment at the end of spring training this season, but he went to Triple-A and hit .378 with nine homers -- including three on Monday -- and an OPS over 1.200. 

The Giants planned to give Williamson a bit more time in Triple-A, but he forced the issue with his play, and he now will get a chance to find his big league groove in the best hitters' park in the majors. 

[RELATED: Kuip wants Mac to show Giants he's here to stay long term]

Solano, a 31-year-old with more than 1,000 big league plate appearances, primarily plays second base but can move all over the infield. He had a .829 OPS in Triple-A at the time of his promotion and takes over the backup infield spot vacated by Solarte.

Solarte signed a minor league deal in February and the Giants felt they got a steal, adding a switch-hitter with decent pop to their bench. But he hit just .205 with one homer in 28 games and an OPS+ (53) that made him nearly 50 percent worse than the league average. 

Jerez was needed after the bullpen got overworked in Cincinnati. Ironically, he was called up a few hours after the Angels cut Chris Stratton.

Jerez was acquired when the Giants dealt Stratton at the end of the spring. 

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

Why Mike Gerber, Levi Michael are Giants spring training cuts to keep eye on

SAN FRANCISCO -- Early in camp, a Giants veteran looked at a group of young players sitting at a card table and joked that he didn't recognize half the guys in the room. That's no longer the case. 

The Giants, after two more rounds of cuts, are down to 39 players in big-league camp, and most of them are familiar to fans. We have hit the point of the spring where guys who were seriously fighting for jobs are seeing that dream end, so as we did last week, let's take a look at who got cut and who might return at some point ... 

March 14: Outfielder Austin Slater and switch-pitcher Pat Venditte optioned; right-hander Derek Law and infielder Zach Green reassigned to minor league camp.

It was a disappointing spring for both Slater and Venditte, who were in races for a backup outfield job and bullpen spot, respectively. 

Slater hit .185 in 12 spring appearances, with just one extra-base hit. The staff asked him to make some swing changes in the offseason to add more loft and hopefully tap into his raw power, but it continues to be a work in progress. More than just about anyone, Slater really could use an everyday role in Sacramento to try and continue to figure out the new swing. He's just 26, offers positional versatility, and could help balance the lineup from the right side, so a breakout would solve a lot of the big league roster's bench issues. 

Venditte was the first free agent signing of the Zaidi era, but he never got on track, allowing seven runs in six appearances. Even at 33, he had a minor league option remaining, so he seems a good bet to shuttle back and forth this season as the Giants embrace some of that Dodger way of handling a pitching staff. At the very least, the switch-pitching thing continues to be remarkable. 

Law was knocked off the 40-man just before camp, but came in optimistic about the way he was throwing. He made just four appearances, allowing a pair of runs. Law's future is murky. If he can get untracked and find that 2016 form, the Giants would be thrilled to add him to the mix. But he's off the 40-man now, so the road back will be a long one. 

Green, 25, was an interesting addition, and he had a nice month, posting an OPS over 1.100 in 23 plate appearances and hitting a couple of homers. It'll be fascinating to check Sacramento's box scores early in the season. Will Zaidi keep giving shots to guys like Slater and Ryder Jones who have been with the organization for a while, or will newcomers like Green jump the line? Green hit 20 homers in the high minors last season and could soon be the next man up at the corner infield spots. 

March 17: Outfielder Mike Gerber and infielder Levi Michael reassigned. 

Anonymous to most fans, these two are guys to keep an eye on.

Gerber was the first player Zaidi acquired for the Giants and they got him through waivers, and onto their Triple-A roster. He had eight hits in 19 spring at-bats, and might have had the plate appearance of the spring, shaking off a head-seeking fastball from a tough Rangers lefty to line a two-run triple into the gap as the Giants nearly pulled off a wild comeback a week ago. He's an outfielder who can play all three spots, and simply has good plate appearances, which is something lacking in this organization. It wouldn't be a surprise to see him get a shot in the outfield this summer. 

[RELATED: Giants top prospect Bart awarded for impressive spring]

Michael played three infield spots this spring and has handled the outfield in the minors. He has always been a high OBP guy in the minors, and reached at a .400 clip in limited action this spring. Does that sound like the type Zaidi might want on the roster? Yep. 

The Giants will carry 13 pitchers more often than not, and might need a third catcher at times. Anyone with versatility -- Michael, Breyvic Valera, Alen Hanson, etc. -- will have a leg up when decisions are made. 

Giants switch-pitcher Pat Venditte draws early crowd at Spring Training


Giants switch-pitcher Pat Venditte draws early crowd at Spring Training

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The Giants are getting closer and closer to having the full squad on the field. Pablo Sandoval took batting practice with Steven Duggar and Ryder Jones. Brandon Belt played catch on a back field. Mac Williamson shagged fly balls. 

Sunday is officially reporting day for position players, but nearly all of them have checked in already, well ahead of Monday’s first full squad workout. 

For a couple more days, though, the focus is on pitchers and catchers, so here are some observations from Day 4 ...

Something They Haven’t Seen

Pat Venditte, the switch-pitcher, is as fascinating to many of the Giants as he is to fans. As he warmed up his right arm Saturday, a member of the staff walked up and asked him to explain how he became a switch-pitcher. He has drawn a crowd during bullpen sessions, and manager Bruce Bochy joked about how he may use Venditte. 

“When I’m stuck and I don’t know which matchup I want, I’ll put him out there,” Bochy said smiling. “I can’t get questioned.”

Venditte has had more success as a lefty in his career but from both sides he gets good movement on his pitches. Bochy noted that he had a good season with the Dodgers, posting a 2.57 ERA in 15 appearances last year. 

“It’s pretty impressive, really, what he’s able to do,” Bochy said.

Young Power

Aramis Garcia has been a standout all week, showing easy power during batting practice. Bochy said he was happy with the work the young catcher put in over the offseason. 

"He's a strong kid," he said. "He has more power than you think"

Garcia hit four homers last September, and they weren't fluky. That's a nice trait to have as a backup catcher; it's often hard to stay in rhythm, but Nick Hundley brought some power to the lineup on his days, too. 

The other homegrown catching prospect in camp also had an impressive day. With Bochy and Farhan Zaidi watching a few feet away, Joey Bart hit a series of rockets the opposite way and over the fence in right, including a couple that clanked off the facing of the bar on top of the bullpens at Scottsdale Stadium. 

Familiar Face

Dan Fouts, the Hall of Fame quarterback, watched BP and spent about 20 minutes chatting with Bochy.

"He always stops by and spends a day with us in the spring," Bochy said. "He's a Giants fan."

Fouts is a San Francisco native who graduated from St. Ignatius in the city.