Giants hoping to get some answers about the opening-day lineup and roster on Monday just got more intrigue.
MoreSplashHits has been trying to read between the comments and actions of manager Bruce Bochy. But it’s not easy.
So here are the remaining questions and some potential answers.
WHO’S ON FIRST: Will it be Aubrey Huff? Will it be Brandon Belt?
Bochy said Monday’s lineup against the A’s would “be pretty close” to the opening day lineup, with one or two exceptions.
The lineup was this: CF Andres Torres, 2B Freddy Sanchez, RF Aubrey Huff, C Buster Posey, LF Pat Burrell, SS Miguel Tejada, 1B Brandon Belt, 3B Pablo Sandoval.
So then what are the “exceptions”? Well, one would assume one is Brandon Belt.
Putting Belt in the lineup raised plenty of eyebrows, fueling speculation that the Giants are still thinking about putting the rookie on the opening day lineup.
Bochy said Monday: “Now it’s up to us to decide which way we’re going to go.” That suggests the Giants haven’t decided.
But then Bochy also told Mike Krukow that nothing Belt did over these last days would impact the Giants decision. That indicates the Giants have already made decision.
Belt went 0 for 3 Monday with two weak groundouts and a strikeout.
Here’s what MoreSplashHits thinks.
The Giants have already decided to send Belt to Triple-A Fresno. They’re just waiting to see if anything weird happens Monday or Tuesday. Barring a late injury, Belt goes to Fresno.
The Giants gave him the start Monday as reward for a great spring and to give him a taste of what awaits him if he goes to Fresno and continues to develop his skills.
Bochy said that Mark DeRosa would start at 1B on Tuesday. That’s a bad sign for Travis Ishikawa, who has already resigned himself to the assumption that his days with the Giants are numbered. By playing DeRosa at first, MoreSplashHits believes Bochy wanted the veteran to get comfortable there. Here’s how we see the scenario playing out.
Belt opens at Triple-A and Ishikawa make the big club to open the season. When Cody Ross is ready to come off the DL, Ishikawa will be traded or released. DeRosa then become the lead backup to Huff at first base, at least until Memorial Day when Belt could get the call.
SO THEN WHO’S IN RIGHT? If Huff is at first base, then who plays in right field until Ross returns.
MoreSplashHits sees the Giants using a platoon of Aaron Rowand (actually in center with Andres Torres in right) and Nate Schierholtz.
Now the book says you start the RH Rowand against lefties and the LH Schierholtz against righties.
One problem, however. Schierholtz apparently never read that book.
In his career, Schierholtz hits RH pitching .249 average/.295 on base/.373 slugging. Against lefties? .354/.390/.500.
Now, Schierholtz’ sample size against lefties is about one-quarter the size against righties, but those are significant splits to consider.
THE BULLPEN: Bochy said Monday that the chances are closer Brian Wilson won’t open the season with the club. Wilson remained down in Arizona as he tries to recover from a strained oblique.
He’ll throw off a mound Tuesday in one last chance to impress the Giants and convince them that he’s ready to open the season without pitching in a live game in two weeks.
If Wilson opens on the disabled list, he won’t be eligible to pitch for the Giants until April 6, when the Giants face the Padres in the sixth game of the regular season.
If Wilson’s on the DL, that leaves room for both Guillermo Mota and Dan Runzler in the bullpen. When Wilson is ready, one of those two pitchers are off the 25-man roster. Runzler has minor league options; Mota would have to be released.