Recent injuries, cuts could force San Francisco Giants into some hard 40-man roster decisions

Kensuke Tanaka was sent down to minor league camp on Thursday.

Kensuke Tanaka was sent down to minor league camp on Thursday.

Another round of cuts Thursday brought the Giants’ opening day roster into focus a bit more.

The Giants sent catchers Jackson Williams and Johnny Monell to minor-league camp, leaving Guillermo Quiroz as the only healthy back-up to Buster Posey. Hector Sanchez is still nursing a sore shoulder and cannot throw or hit left-handed. He took some swings right-handed this week, and hopes to test out his shoulder more this weekend.

But if he has to open the season on the DL, it’s Quiroz who will make the 25-man roster.

The Giants also sent Japanese infielder Kensuke Tanaka to minor league camp. Tanaka has struggled at the plate and in the field this spring.

With injured Tony Abreu limited to two spring ABs and with no sign as to when he’ll be ready to play, it leaves the final reserve infield spot to veteran Wilson Valdez.

Not that Valdez got a resounding vote of confidence from manager Bruce Bochy on Thursday.

“Well, he’s getting playing time,” Bochy said of Valdez. “We’ve been moving him around. He’s still here.”

The Giants will continue to check the waiver wire or try for a possible trade, if a better option shows up. However, word has it that they are not interested in Chone Figgins, who was released by the Marlins earlier this week.

The Giants currently have 38 players on their 40-man roster, so there would be room to add non-roster players Quiroz and Valdez. But another non-roster invitee, Chad Gaudin, is the frontrunner to secure the final spot in the bullpen.

To add Gaudin to the 40-man roster, the Giants would have to create room. That could be accomplished by sending pitcher Eric Surkamp to the 60-day disabled list. Surkamp is working his way back from Tommy John surgery last summer, and isn’t expected to be game-ready until July.

But there’s another wrinkle. Cole Gillespie and Francisco Peguero are battling it out for the final reserve outfielder job. Peguero is on the 40-man roster; Gillespie is not.

So one option is to put Peguero on the 25-man roster and send Gillespie to Fresno. But the Giants don’t want Peguero to simply sit on the bench in San Francisco when he could be getting at-bats at Fresno and developing his game.

But if it’s a short-term situation, it might not be so bad. Remember Brett Pill also is on the 40-man roster. He recently had his knee scoped, but he’s apparently itching to get out of the training room and back in the cage. If Pill’s return date is on the shorter end of his 2-to-4 week projected hiatus, he could be ready to be activated by mid-April. And that wouldn’t be too long for Peguero to sit on the bench.

But if the Giants opt for Gillespie, then someone will have to be removed from the 40-man roster. But who? Here are a couple of prime candidates:

  • Abreu. While the Giants would prefer to put Abreu on the 15-day DL, send him to Fresno to rehab so they can get a look at what they’ve got, sending him through waivers wouldn’t be the worst thing in the world. He’s been hurt and hasn’t been able to show anyone anything. So the odds are good that no other team will claim him, allowing the Giants to outright him to Fresno. But even if a team claims him, I don’t think the Giants would be terribly heartbroken. They seem a bit frustrated that he hasn’t done more to get himself ready to play.
  • P Jean Machi. There isn’t a lot of demand for 31-year-old, 260-pound(ish), right-handed journeyman relievers these days. And with the young arms the Giants have, exposing Machi to waivers wouldn’t be a terrible risk. He’s been OK, this spring with a 3.38 ERA with seven strikeouts and two walks in eight innings. but his only big-league experience in his 10-year pro career was eight appearances with the Giants last year.

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