Final push to opening day roster: Position players
After the Giants optioned 3B Conor Gillespie to Triple-A Fresno and reassigned OF Roger Kieschnick to minor league camp, there are 37 players left on the Giants active roster.
The team has a little more than two weeks to get that number down to 25 by Opening Day.
The Giants may open the season with 11 or 12 pitchers. Given that the Giants have scheduled days off on the first four Thursdays of the season, we’re going to base our assessments on an 11-pitcher staff.
Two of the 37 players left on the active roster will open the season on the disabled list: IF Emmanuel Burriss and 2B Freddy Sanchez.
That gets us down to 35 … 10 more to go.
Let’s start with the bench. We’ll start with the presumed opening day lineup.
1B: Aubrey Huff
2B: Juan Uribe
SS: Edgar Renteria
3B: Pablo Sandoval
C: Bengie Molina
OF: Mark DeRosa
OF: Aaron Rowand
OF: Nate Schierholtz
That leaves six bench spots left.
Catcher: One of those spots would have to go to the backup catcher: either Buster Posey and Eli Whiteside. Posey has been hitting well this spring, leading the Giants to give him starts at 1B this spring to see if they can find another spot for him on the field other than getting him two starts a week relieving Molina. Or the Giants could decide they want Posey to develop his catching skills with regular playing time. That would mean a trip to Fresno and a roster spot to Whiteside. Fresno manager and former Giants catcher Steve Decker is already talking about how he plans on mentoring Posey on his catching skills.
First base: There’s better a lot of chatter this spring about the defensive limits of Aubrey Huff. That’s why players like Posey, Kevin Frandsen and John Bowker have been getting looks at 1B this spring. DeRosa and Sandoval also can play the position. However, if Travis Ishikawa can show he’s healthy and ready to play, his glove will almost guarantee him a roster spot. Ishikawa hopes to make his Cactus League debut this week.
The other four bench spots: Frandsen, Bowker, Eugenio Velez, Andres Torres and Fred Lewis are the leading contenders. At least one of them will be the odd man out. And that’s only until Freddy Sanchez returns, which should be by mid-April. Here’s how the size up.
Kevin Frandsen: RH batter (Spring stats: 0 HR, 2 BI, .214 avg). Can play all infield positions; still has one minor-league option left. Only player among aforementioned five who can play on left-side of infield. However, DeRosa’s and Uribe’s ability to play over there diminishes that fact.
John Bowker: LH batter (1 HR, 7 BI, .257). Corner outfielder, who can also play some 1B. Has minor league options left. Leads team with 5 spring BB.
Eugenio Velez: Switch batter (O HR, 2 BI. 296) Can play all OF positions, even played some CF this spring to show he can handle that. Also possible at 2B. Good candidate to bat leadoff. Good pinch-runner. Versatility a plus. Has one option left.
Andres Torres: Switch hitter (1 HR, 4 BI, .290) Can play all OF positions; only true CF among this group; leadoff candidate; strong pinch-runner. Out of options.
Fred Lewis: LH hitter (3 HR, 6 BI, .267) Limited to playing LF, and not really that well. Out of options.
The others: IF Matt Downs, IF Ryan Rohlinger, OF Darren Ford, OF Francisco Peguero. Downs and Ford have played very well this spring, but chances are they open in Fresno.