SAN FRANCISCO -- Before the final road game of the first half, a group of Giants hitters took the field at Petco Park to chat with some Padres before they began stretching for batting practice.
With most of the members of the team's longtime core still indoors, the group on the field ended up being one you couldn't have imagined on Opening Day.
Pablo Sandoval was there, along with Alex Dickerson, Mike Yastrzemski, Donovan Solano, Kevin Pillar, Tyler Austin and Austin Slater. Sandoval was the only one in the circle who was on the roster when the Giants kicked off their season at Petco Park on March 28.
Farhan Zaidi didn't seem all too concerned when the Giants took the field with Connor Joe and Michael Reed in the outfield that day. He was willing to be patient, saying repeatedly that he would find upgrades over time.
By the end of the first half the Giants had a much different -- and better -- roster, even if it was painful for the clubhouse at times with all the churn.
"You look at the roster changes and yeah, sometimes you've got to do what you think is the right thing for the club," manager Bruce Bochy said last week. "We've made some changes as we've gone and we like where we're at."
The Giants used 44 players in the first half, Ray Black being the final one to walk through the door. A year ago they used 48 players all season. The upheaval started early, as Zaidi made a series of moves right before Opening Day to add depth to the entire system. That led to this Day 1 lineup:
Duggar CF (recently optioned to Triple-A)
Joe LF (designated for assignment and returned to the Dodgers)
Reed RF (DFA'd and now in Triple-A)
Gerardo Parra and Yangervis Solarte pinch-hit for Joe and Reed that day and both have also been DFA'd.
The Giants finished the first half with a lineup mix that included Pillar and Austin (acquired in April trades), Yastrzemski (acquired at the end of the spring), Slater and Donovan Solano (called up from Triple-A), Dickerson (acquired from the Padres in June) and Stephen Vogt, who started the year in Sacramento but replaced Erik Kratz. The rotation includes Tyler Beede and Shaun Anderson, who were called up from Triple-A.
A lot has changed, but the Giants are a better and deeper team than the one that started the year in San Diego. Bochy is happy with the group, although he admitted communication has been key in his final season. He had to sit down with members of his core and explain what the front office was up to as players shuttled in and out of the clubhouse.
There was some grumbling, even publicly, but by the end of the first half the veterans seemed in tune with the new normal.
"Early on, I felt like that last weekend of spring training and into that first month, month and a half of the season, it felt like a revolving door,” third baseman Evan Longoria said. “To Farhan's credit, he has a track record of success and of finding guys who can help in the moment and be positive contributors. That's what it's about, finding that mix of guys.”