Almost one week into the season, the San Francisco Giants have discovered that maybe Chris Marrero isn’t their best option in left field against left-handed pitching.
Heading into Saturday’s game against the San Diego Padres, Giants left fielders collectively — and that includes Marrero, Jarrett Parker, Gorkys Hernandez and Aaron Hill — are 0 for 20 with 10 strikeouts, one walk and one sacrifice fly.
By comparison, Giants pitchers are 3 for 10 with just four strikeouts.
With other options like Michael Morse and Mac Williamson still battling injuries and maybe a month away from being options, the Giants continued to seek out alternatives.
On Saturday, they found one in Melvin Upton Jr. (aka B.J. Upton).
Upton was released by the Blue Jays out of spring training last week. And when that happened, the Giants didn’t appear interested. Instead, they signed Drew Stubbs, who released by the Twins.
But when Marrero’s early struggles led manager Bruce Bochy to give Aaron Hill his first career start in left field on Friday, it became clear the Giants would need to explore other options.
And that led them to sign Upton.
Upton has had a very up-and-down career. After a solid start with the Rays, his move to the National League was a disaster during his two seasons with the Braves, with whom he hit .184 and .208 in 2013 and 2014.
Things got better when he moved to San Diego, where he hit .259 in 2015 and .256 with 16 home runs and 45 RBI in 92 games with the Padres before being traded in a deadline deal to Toronto. Things didn’t go so well there. He hit just .196 in 57 games for the Jays before being released at the end of spring training this season.
Upton not only gives the Giants a right-handed hitting option to throw into the left field mix, but he’s also made more than 1,112 career starts in center, providing some needed depth there.
According to Twitter reports, Upton signed a minor-league deal with the Giants and will report to Triple-A Sacramento to shake off some of the rust.