Now that we’re a few weeks into Spring Training, things are starting to materialize for the Giants. A few moves have already been made, some players have surprised, and some are taking a bit to get their feet under them.
To begin with, Dave Roberts being released from the club marks the end of one of the Giants poorer signings in recent memory. Roberts collected huge sums of money, for well, nothing really. His first season with the squad was forgettable, and last season was injury riddled. With the Giants' outfield a bit crowded, they felt it was time to cut their losses and allow Roberts the chance to latch on with someone else for the season.
The move could open a slot for Nate Schierholtz to get his long awaited, and deserved, shot to make his mark with the big club. John Bowker and Eugenio Velez will be the others in the mix for the final two spots in the out field due to their versatility, but Velez could have the upper hand as he’s hitting nearly 100 points higher than Bowker at this point, and gives the Giants more middle infield depth.
The other roster move of note was Keiichi Yabu being out righted to Triple A Fresno, which will open a slot in the bullpen for non-roster invitees Brandon Medders and Justin Miller, along with Rule V draftee Luis Perdomo to duke it out.
Heading into the spring, it appeared the Giants were going to be set with Pablo Sandoval at third base and Travis Ishikawa at first, but bursting onto the scene has been Ryan Rohlinger.
Rohlinger has only nine at bats as of the time of this article, but when you’ve collected four hita—three of them being round trippers—you’re bound to open some eyes. Throw in his eight RBI’s and you start thinking about the third baseman of the future. Now I know it’s only Spring Training, but it’s tough to ignore numbers like that.
Jesus Guzman has been the other surprise in Scottsdale so far. At a position the Giants came into the spring a little shaky on, it appears they will break camp feeling a little bit better about their situation at the hot corner. Guzman is raking it this spring owning a .389 batting average with two home runs and seven RBI’s.
The Giants original plan remains in place for now, as Ishikawa is tearing up the Cactus League, and Sandoval has picked up where he left off last season. But keep your eyes on Rohlinger and Guzman, as they could come up at some point in the season and provide that spark Sandoval gave the club last season.
Journeyman Andres Torres has also looked impressive in camp, but expect him to start the season in Fresno and be called up if an injury in the outfield were to occur.
Veterans Aaron Rowand and Randy Winn have both had slow starts, but it’s not something to read too much into.
Winn is hitting a paltry .071 on the spring, but he’s working out some kinks and you can bet he will be ready to go on Opening Day.
Rowand isn’t off to as bad of a start as Winn, but Giants fans want to see a better average than .208 from the Giants' big money signing of last season. He should begin to shake off the rust shortly and end the spring strong, just in time for the season to begin.
One major area of concern heading into camp this year was, where is the offense going to come from?
Well, 23 home runs so far this spring, to go with 77 RBI’s, begins to ease some fears about whether or not the Giants can score runs, something they were completely inept at last year.
All in all, the Giants are showing some improvement in key areas, the bullpen is starting to take form, and the Giants' rotation is looking as strong as expected.
Some things to watch through the rest of Spring Training will be when and if Noah Lowry returns. There is a lot of anticipation about his first start of the spring, and why not?
He looked to be one of the big three in the rotation with Tim Lincecum and Matt Cain before he struggled with some injuries. If he does come back strong, it could give the Giants some flexibility in trading some young pitching for that middle of the order bat they are still in need of.
Also keep your eyes on that battle for the starting job at second base. Kevin Frandsen and Emmanuel Burriss seem to be the two battling it out at the moment, owning averages of .304 and .355 respectively, and neither one is going to let it go very easily.