5 Things to Watch During San Francisco Giants' Spring Training
After winning two out of the last four World Series, the San Francisco Giants understand what it takes to make it back to October baseball. It all begins in Scottsdale, Ariz., where the Giants will look to begin to rebuild from a disappointing 2013 season.
Spring training offers the Giants, like every other team, the opportunity to assess young talent, watch how the new additions are performing and check out how the returning players are doing.
Here are five things to watch throughout the Giants' spring training camp.
Starting Pitching Depth
Last year, San Francisco's lack of starting pitching depth was a killer as the staff finished the season with a 4.37 ERA. The Giants understand that their rotation cannot struggle again if they want to compete for an NL West title.
This spring, the Giants have the opportunity to see if youngsters Kyle Crick and Edwin Escobar are ready to take the leap to the majors in 2014.
If the rotation falters again, the Giants will look for reinforcements to keep the staff afloat. Crick and Escobar are in their first spring training camp after dominating the minors. If they can pitch well this spring, manager Bruce Bochy would sure be happy to have those options in his back pocket.
The Giants saw what Madison Bumgarner did as just a 20-year-old in 2010. Can Crick or Escobar do the same in 2014?
Can Heath Hembree Make the Opening Day Roster?
Hembree was a September call-up in 2013 and threw 7.2 innings while allowing just four hits and no runs. Now, the hard-throwing reliever has a great chance to crack the Giants' opening day roster. The 25-year-old proved he can pitch well at the major league level and will now compete with George Kontos, Jake Dunning, Jean Machi and David Huff for the two remaining bullpen jobs.
In his interview with KNBR's Brian Murphy and Paul McCaffrey (h/t the San Francisco Chronicle), Giants vice president and assistant general manager Bobby Evans said that Hembree has a “better-than-odds chance of making the team.”
Pablo Sandoval 2.0
We have all heard the stories and seen the pictures of the new and improved "Kung Fu Panda." He still has not revealed how much weight he lost during the offseason, but according to Henry Schulman of the San Francisco Chronicle, “Pablo Sandoval looks as good as I’ve ever seen him.”
The highly anticipated debut of the reborn Sandoval is quickly approaching as San Francisco opens up Cactus League play on February 26. Fans will finally get to see how Sandoval’s dramatic transformation has affected his range at third base and speed on the base paths.
Confidence of Tim Lincecum
The "Freaky Franchise" is trying anything possible to get off on the right foot in 2014.
Bullpen sessions in a Seattle warehouse to solidify mechanics during the offseason? Check.
Seeking advice from veteran Tim Hudson? Check.
Growing a good-luck mustache to start the season? Check.
Lincecum learned last year that he has to reinvent himself as a pitcher. Without a blow-away fastball anymore, he has to learn to keep the ball down and improve the command of all his pitches.
Keep an eye on Lincecum this spring. If he can limit his walks and put together some good starts, he will carry a lot of confidence into the regular season.
Power of Michael Morse
Morse displayed his opposite field power during the Giants' first day of live batting practice on February 20 as he sent a pitch by Yusmeiro Petit over the right field wall. Sure it's just spring training, but Bochy had to be pleased with what he saw.
After playing in just 88 games last year due to a wrist injury, Morse is looking to rebound in 2014 and give the Giants some power at the left field position. The Giants received just five home runs from their left fielders in 2013 and need Morse to regain his 2011 form.
How many home runs will Morse hit in 2014?