Guillermo Quiroz may have locked down the final spot on the Giants’ 25-man opening day roster with one swing Saturday.
Quiroz hammered a three-run home run off Bartolo Colon in the seventh inning, accounting for all of the Giants’ run in a 4-3 loss to the A’s in the preseason finale.
Or the decision could have been made before Quiroz came to the plate on Saturday.
The Giants made their final roster moves before Monday’s season opener by purchasing the contract of Quiroz and adding him to the 40-man roster. Outfielder Cole Gillespie, in the mix as a fifth outfielder, was sent to Minor League camp. He’ll likely open the season in Triple-A Fresno.
With Quiroz on the roster, the Giants could use Hector Sanchez as a pinch-hitter. Sanchez is a switch hitter, which gives the Giants more options late in a game.
“He has a good, adjustable bat from both sides of the plate,” Giants vice president Bobby Evans said of Sanchez.
Sanchez battled a sore shoulder this spring. But he caught back-to-back games this weekend in minor league camp in Arizona, and Evans said he looks pretty good.
Still, the very fact that Sanchez was left in Arizona while the rest of the Giants came north shows that the Giants had — and may still have — concerns about Sanchez’s healthy. It seems evident that when Buster Posey gets a day off in the season’s early going, it will be Quiroz — not Sanchez — behind the plate. This will give Sanchez extra time to build strength in the shoulder so it doesn’t act up again.
The 31-year-old Quiroz, who batted .282 this spring, has played in 103 big-league games over eight seasons with the Blue Jays, Mariners, Rangers, Orioles and Red Sox.
Not adding Gillespie means the Giants will open the season with four pure outfielders. But the ability of Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres to play all three outfield positions gives the Giants some flexibility. And the fact that all four outfielders are solid defenders, there won’t be any need to late-inning defensive replacements. Also, Brandon Belt remains an option in the outfield, as well as Joaquin Arias.
The final roster decision focused on Pablo Sandoval, who left Friday’s game with the A’s early after feeling some discomfort in his troublesome elbow.
Sandoval told manager Bruce Bochy that he was better Saturday and wanted to play. The Giants held him out as a precaution. Sandoval played catch before Saturday’s game, and will work out again Sunday before the team flies to Los Angeles Sunday afternoon, just to make sure everything’s working right.
Here is the Giants’ 25-man opening day roster for 2013
Projected Monday lineup:
- CF Angel Pagan
- 2B Marco Scutaro
- 3B Pablo Sandoval
- C Buster Posey
- RF Hunter Pence
- 1B Brandon Belt
- LF Andres Torres
- SS Brandon Crawford
- RHP Matt Cain
Other starting pitchers: LH Madison Bumgarner, RH Tim Lincecum, LH Barry Zito, RH Ryan Vogelsong.
Bullpen: RH Sergio Romo, LH Jeremy Affeldt, LH Javier Lopez, LH Jose Mijares, RH Santiago Casilla, RH George Kontos, RH Chad Gaudin
Bench: C Hector Sanchez, C Guillermo Quiroz, IF Nick Noonan, IF Joaquin Arias, OF Gregor Blanco
OK, pop quiz time.
How many members of the San Francisco Giants’ active roster for the 2010 World Series are on the team’s current 25-man active roster?
(Play Jeopardy music here).
Did you say 11? If so, you’re right.
Here’s the championship eleven
- Tim Lincecum
- Matt Cain
- Madison Bumgarner
- Sergio Romo
- Jeremy Affeldt
- Javier Lopez
- Santiago Casilla
- Buster Posey
- Pablo Sandoval
- Nate Schierholtz
… and ….
- Eli Whiteside.
Whiteside took the number from 10 to 11 on Wednesday when he was called up from Triple-A Fresno to replace Hector Sanchez on the roster.
Sanchez was placed on the disabled list Wednesday with a sprained knee.
Even with the Giants assertions Tuesday that Sanchez’s injury was not serious, it did not come as a big surprise that Sanchez is headed to the DL.
It was reported that Sanchez was examined for mild discomfort in the knee on Friday. So Tuesday’s incident was clearly an aggravation of a previous condition for Sanchez.
The Giants clearly decided he needed more time to get healthy, and they didn’t want to use Pablo Sandoval as anything more than an emergency catcher.
Sanchez will remain with the Giants on the road trip, expects to resume baseball activities in a week at the latest and should be ready to go when his 15 days are up. That would set his activation for Aug. 2, when the Giants play the Mets to finish a 10-game homestand.
If that’s the case, we can expect Whiteside to make two, maybe three starts, during Sanchez’s stint on the DL. That’s fewer than the number of starts Sanchez would be expected to make over the same time if he were healthy. The Giants play 14 games over the next 15 days, with the lone day off coming July 26 during that 10-game homestand.
The beneficiary of playing time over the next two weeks is Brandon Belt. Belt has been sitting a couple of days each week when Sanchez has been starting, with Posey playing at first base.
It would seem that manager Bruce Bochy is less likely to use the same alignment with Whiteside, choosing instead to play Posey more behind the plate and giving him full days off when Whiteside catches.
However, Bochy could decide against lefties to start Joaquin Arias at 3B and Sandoval at 1B. But that would mean starting Brandon Crawford at SS.
Belt gets the start at 1B Wednesday against lefty Mike Minor.
Hopefully, this will provide Belt a chance to get hot again.
And maybe, just maybe, someone will take the opportunity to point out to Bochy that Belt has a slash line of .300/.379/.660 against lefties this season compared to .228/.348/.315 against righties.
Buster Posey wanted to put his first big-league regular-season series in his home state of Georgia behind him.
That came in 2010, when he went 1 for 11 against the Atlanta Braves.
Two years later, Buster was back in Georgia (having missed the 2011 visit because of his ankle injury), and he was bustin’ out.
Posey went 3 for 5 with a double and five RBI as the Giants opened a six-game road trip to with a rout of the Braves.
Posey’s three-run double was the big blow in a six-run fourth inning for the Giants.
Posey started the game at first base, even after earlier in the day expressing confidence in his ability to catch Barry Zito or anyone on the Giants staff.
“Listen,” he said, “I’ve got the utmost confidence in myself that I can catch anybody. I’ve never questioned that. I’ve caught (Tim Lincecum) plenty and had a lot of success with him. I haven’t caught Barry as much as Timmy, but I’m definitely comfortable with him as well.”
Posey got his chance to catch Zito when Sanchez left the game in the fourth inning with a strained left knee.
Zito, who threw seven shutout innings Tuesday, quipped: “Me and Buster were joking around. I said ‘You probably sniggered him because you wanted to work with me.’ ”
Posey will be working with all Giants pitchers for the near future as Sanchez is sidelined, although early reports are that the injury is not considered serious.
Sanchez will get an MRI Wednesday morning, so the Giants will know more then. But for now, they are not planning any roster moves.
“We’re hoping for the best,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “We think it’s just a couple games. We’re hopeful it’s what we think it is.”
In the meantime, Pablo Sandoval, who has not caught a big-league game since 2009, becomes the No. 2 catcher on the roster, followed by Emmanuel Burriss.
If the Giants eventually find a need for another catcher, the logical choice is Eli Whiteside, despite Twitters calls for Tommy Joseph or Andrew Susac. And there are plenty of reasons why.
- Whiteside is on the 40-man roster. Joseph and Susac are not. Bringing up Whiteside would not require a corresponding move on the 40-man roster.
- Calling up Joseph or Susac would also start burning their player options and begin their arbitration clock. Having already done that with the young Sanchez (22), they would not want to do that with the equally young Joseph (21) or Susac (22).
- While Whiteside is only hitting .241 at Triple-A Fresno, Joseph and Susac aren’t batting much better. Joseph is hitting .255 at Double-A Richmond and Susac .226 at Class A San Jose.
- Whiteside is hitting .400 over his past eight games (10 for 25).
- But offensive production is a plus when you’re talking about backup catcher. The bigger plus is defensive ability. Whiteside has that big-league experience. Joseph and Susac are still learning.
- The pitching staff is comfortable with Whiteside, with all of the starters and most of the bullpen having worked with him in the past.
- Given the nature of the injury and how the backup would be used, we’re talking about a limited stint with the Giants, maybe 2-3 starts if Sanchez eventually lands on the DL. The Giants would rather keep their young catchers where they are and playing regularly than sitting on the bench with the big club.
I’ll admit it. I didn’t see much of Monday’s win over the Brewers. But apparently, I saw enough.
I watched the first inning, when Buster Posey blasted a thee-run home run. But then I had an evening meeting. When I got back, the game was still going on, in the 14th inning.
My first thought was: How many pitchers are left in the bullpen? How many position players are left on the bench, given Bruce Bochy’s penchant for double switches and pinch-hitting for position players.
The answer to the first question was two: recent Triple-A callups Steve Edlefsen and Shane Loux. The answer to the second question was none.
- Brandon Belt entered the game in a double-switch in the eighth.
- Emmanuel Burriss entered the game in a double-switch in the ninth
- Aubrey Huff pinch-hit for Jeremy Affeldt in the 11th.
- Angel Pagan was not available because of the stomach flu.
- In the 12th, Bochy replaced Posey with Hector Sanchez in a double switch.
But Sanchez made the move pay off with a lead-off home run in the 14th.
“You don’t see that too often, a double-switch and your backup hits one out,” Bochy said.
It’s a rare sight indeed. Also rare is a game in which all of the Giants’ runs game via the home run — and each of those homers came from a Giants catcher.
You wouldn’t expect to see that with Eli Whiteside or Chris Stewart on the roster.
Matt Cain takes the mound against Shaun Marcum at 5:10 p.m. Cain has a road ERA of 4.42, but that is misleading. Cain has only had three road starts this season, and that includes his first start of the season, in which he gave up five runs in six innings in Arizona. His most recent road start also came in Arizona on May 12, in which he gave up one run on three hits in six innings.
Ryan Vogelsong gave up two runs on six hits over six innings of work in his second rehab start with the Fresno Grizzlies on Tuesday and is set to make his 2012 big-league debut Sunday against the Pittsburgh Pirates.
Vogelsong threw 93 pitches, 60 for strikes. He struck out six and walked one.
Vogelsong threw five shutout innings before giving up two runs in the sixth on an soft, looping single to left, an infield single and then a two-run double.
BARRY LOVES HECTOR: If you liked what you saw from rookie catcher Hector Sanchez in his 2012 debut on Monday, you’ll see him again on Saturday, at the latest.
The Giants are planning to make Sanchez Barry Zito’s personal catcher. And why not? The combination produced Zito’s first shutout in nine seasons.
“I’m really comfortable with him,” Zito said of Sanchez. “I thought he mixed it up real well. He has a great feel back there. I don’t think he gets enough credit as a catcher. He’s not scared to go out there and call a pitch that may not be a normal pitch to throw in a siutation.”
Zito will take the mound again on Saturday night against the Pirates. But it’s possible Sanchez could be behind the plate again on Thursday.
With the Giants playing a day game after a night game and with the left-hander Jamie Moyer on the mound, we could see Sanchez catching and Buster Posey making his first start at first base.
Given the Giants’ struggles against lefties, manager Bruce Bochy will likely want to stack Thursday’s lineup with as many right-handed bats as possible. That could include the switch-hitting Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Pablo Sandoval and Sanchez, with righties Posey at first and Ryan Theriot at 2B. Bochy could also leave Posey at catcher and start Brett Pill at first base.
LINEUP JUGGLING: After getting a day off to clear his mind, Brandon Belt should be back in the starting lineup Wednesday against the Rockies.
Bochy said Belt, who started 1 for 10 with five strikeouts after an outstanding spring, was pressing a bit.
We also could see Nate Schierholtz make his first start Wednesday.
“I need to get Nate a start,” Bochy said Monday. “I know that. I need to let him get three or four at-bats.”
SET THE DVR: The Giants will make their second national TV appearance of 2012 next Tuesday when they host the Philadelphia Phillies at 7 p.m. on the MLB Network. Madison Bumgarner is set to pitch for the Giants.