Spring arrives with few questions for Giants

San Francisco Giants' Pablo Sandoval hits a solo home run against the Arizona Diamondbacks during the fourth inning of a spring training baseball game at Salt River Fields at Talking Stick near Scottsdale, Ariz. Sunday, Feb. 27, 2011. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

Spring training opens camp is less than two weeks, so it’s time to get out of the winter doldrums and put the 49ers’ loss in the NFC title game behind us.

Let’s talk San Francisco Giants baseball.

It wasn’t exactly a whirlwind offseason full of free-agent signings. In fact, the Giants may open the 2012 season without a free agent signing from another team.

The two new faces on the roster were acquired via trade — outfielders Melky Cabrera (from the Royals) and Angel Pagan (from the Mets).

And it may not be an especially exciting spring. There are really only three potential battles for jobs on the 25-man roster.

STARTING PITCHER: The Giants signed former Marlins pitcher Clay Hensley to a non-guaranteed contact. Giants GM Brian Sabean said the No.5 rotation spot is Barry Zito’s to lose. Considering that Hensley is his main competition, it’s shouldn’t be much of a batter. Hensley was basically brought in as an insurance play in the event one of the Giants’ starting five experiences some problems this spring.

BACKUP CATCHER: When the Giants non-tendered Eli Whiteside in December, it looked as if Chris Stewart would open the season as the backup to Buster Posey. But then Whiteside signed a minor league contract and will be back in camp this . So the backup battle should be between Whiteside and Stewart. Although the youthful Hector Sanchez could factor into things. But we expect Sanchez to open the season in Fresno.

SHORTSTOP: The Giants signed infielder Ryan Theriot to a non-guaranteed contract for $1.25 milllion. The Giants said in the offseason that they would be willing to hand the starting shorstop job to Brandon Crawford if they improved the offense enough. But that was after they added Pagan and Cabrera. There were no other moves after that. So it wasn’t a surprise that the Giants looked for some insurance. Theriot hit .271 with any pop for the Cardinals last season, playing mostly shortstop. But he did hit .310 against lefties, so a potential platoon with the left-hand hitting Crawford is possible. But the big question is that if Theriot makes the club, who doesn’t? We would expect that Emmanuel Burriss would be the prime candidate to be cut or traded.

Here’s a look at Giants projected 25-man opening day roster

1B – Brandon Belt
2B – Freddy Sanchez
SS – Brandon Crawford
3B – Pablo Sandoval
C – Buster Posey
LF – Aubrey Huff
CF -Angel Pagan
RF -Melky Cabrera
C – Chris Stewart
1B/OF – Brett Pill
OF – Nate Schierholtz
IF – Mike Fontenot
IF – Emmaunel Burriss
SP – Tim Lincecum
SP – Matt Cain
SP – Madison Bumgarner
SP – Ryan Vogelsong
SP -Barry Zito
RP – Brian Wilson
RP -Sergio Romo
RP – Jeremy Affeldt
RP – Javier Lopez
RP – Santiago Casilla
RP -Dan Runzler
RP -Guillermo Mota

BATTLING FOR SPOTS

SP: Clay Hensley; IF: Ryan Theriot; C: Eli Whiteside

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