ORACLE PARK — The San Francisco Giants continue to pare their roster down, sending left-hander Ty Blach down to Triple-A Sacramento in an expected move.
After a trade late Monday night/early Tuesday morning that sent Chris Stratton to the Los Angeles Angels of Anaheim, coupled with Andrew Suarez being optioned to Sacramento, the Giants have all but set their starting rotation, with Madison Bumgarner going first, then likely Drew Pomeranz (expected to pitch second in Tuesday’s Bay Bridge Series finale), then Dereck Rodriguez (pencilled in to start Saturday against San Diego), Derek Holland and Jeff Samardzija, who will start Tuesday’s game against the Oakland Athletics.
That means that the projected rotation for the River Cats would be Suarez, top prospect Tyler Beede (who had moments of brilliance this spring despite a 6.10 ERA), Shaun Anderson and Blach, but it also means that, two days before Opening Day, the Giants have yet to officially announce their rotation, or the results of several other glaring position battles.
Manager Bruce Bochy said after Monday’s game that some of the rotation question would be answered soon, and within hours, the Stratton trade was announced. In that same media session, Bochy had high praise for Anderson, who started Tuesday night’s game.
“He is one of our guys that we look at down in Sacramento as a guys who can help us at any point,” Bochy said. “He was close to coming up last year and he’s going to be a starter in the major league. He’s got the pitches that will work up here so he gives up depth. We’re really impressed with this kid and his stuff. Right now, we just don’t have a spot in the rotation for him. But we certainly feel if there is something that happens, he’s a guy that can help us.”
The other positional battles that have yet to be resolved involve the two corner outfield spots.
On Monday, the Giants played four different corner outfielders: Connor Joe, Michael Reed, Henry Ramos and Mike Gerber. Conspicuous by his absence was Mac Williamson, the Giants’ spring at-bats leader, who was not in the lineup again on Tuesday, after Bochy said he figured he would be.
“I feel great, physically, and mentally, I know that I’ve worked veyr hard in the offseason and this spring,” said Williamson, who has just one home run and two doubles this spring, while hitting .237 with 18 strikeouts in 59 at-bats. “We’ll have to see what happens today. I think there are a lot of us who haven’t really been told what’s going on … I have no sense of where I stand, and I’m not starting tonight. I didn’t start last night. If that’s any indication of where I stand in the front office’s eyes, you can read into it for yourself.”
At one point a projected starter in left field, Williamson, who missed most of last season with post-concussion syndrome, played in the Bay Bridge opener, but did not play on Monday. Reed, Joe, Parra and Williamson figure to be the true contenders for the two spots.
“We’re talking about it,” Bochy said Monday night. “We have some options. You saw from a couple of young kids out there tonight. It has not been decided to be honest.”
Joe, a right-handed bat, can play all three outfield positions, as well as first and third. He could also potentially serve as the team’s emergency catcher, since Farhan Zaidi said Tuesday that the club only plans to keep two on the roster (Buster Posey and Erik Kratz, for the time being). He may not be a starter, but would be a versatile bench piece coveted by each of the front offices of which Zaidi has been a part.
Michael Reed, 26, has had only four at-bats in spring training this year, and is a career .229 hitter in 35 Major League at-bats. In the minors, he’s a career .268 hitter, who has hit .278 in Triple-A.
Another contender for the corner spots is Gerardo Parra, who was the desginated hitter on Monday. Parra, a career .278 hitter, hit .317 this spring with two homers, two triples and two doubles. He is a lock for the 25-man roster, and could potentially play in right field, where he will start on Tuesday.
“He’s played out there a few times. If you’ve watched him on defense, he’s pretty good,” Bochy said. “He’s going to play out there [Tuesday]. We’re going to play him both days.He needs some work, I agree but he’s played in our outfield plenty and he’s beaten Arizona, beaten Colorado, seen him in left field. We knew that the field was wet so i just said we’ll DH him.”
While Parra is serviceable, and center fielder Steven Duggar has been in top form ball since coming off his shoulder surgery (.326, three doubles, two stolen bases in 15 games, 46 at-bats), the outfield as a whole still leaves quite a bit to be desired, and the options aren’t very inspiring.