San Francisco Giants: 3 Giants with the Most to Lose When Cody Ross Returns

Jordan Plaut@therealplautCorrespondent IApril 19, 2011

San Francisco Giants: 3 Giants with the Most to Lose When Cody Ross Returns

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    ARLINGTON, TX - OCTOBER 30:  Cody Ross #13 of the San Francisco Giants runs towards home plate on his solo home run in the top of the seventh inning against Colby Lewis #48 of (R) the Texas Rangers in Game Three of the 2010 MLB World Series at Rangers Bal
    Elsa/Getty Images

    Right fielder Cody Ross solidified his spot in San Francisco Giants history over the course of the 2010 postseason, almost singlehandedly beating Roy Halladay and the Phillies in the NLCS.

    Just to give you a sense of Ross' role in the Giants' success, take a look at some of his stats from the series against the Braves, Phillies and Rangers:

    .294/.390/.686 with 11 runs, 10 RBI, five HR and five doubles.

    Following Ross' spring training injury against the Angels, the Giants dealt with Ross' absence fairly well. Although the outfield has been a bit of an issue defensively with Ross gone, hitting has been relatively effective (at least enough for a team that has had trouble scoring runs in recent memory).

    However, now that Ross is coming back to the team (today in Colorado is likely), there will be some changes in the lineup, and a few other Giants players will have to pay the price with their own playing time.

    Let's examine those players and see who will be in or out when Cody Ross returns in all his glory.

Mark DeRosa

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    SCOTTSDALE, AZ - FEBRUARY 23:  Mark DeRosa #7 of the San Francisco Giants poses for a portrait during media photo day at Scottsdale Stadium on February 23, 2011 in Scottsdale, Arizona.  (Photo by Ezra Shaw/Getty Images)
    Ezra Shaw/Getty Images

    DeRosa has done well in his limited playing time so far this season, going 6-for-14 with three RBI and a double. With Ross' return, though, DeRosa's plate appearances have the potential to disappear.

    However, if there is one good aspect about DeRosa (and it's hard to admit he is good for the Giants on any level), it is his versatility as a fielder. Even when Ross comes back to his slotted right field position, DeRosa will still be an off-day replacement at every other position but pitcher and catcher.

    At this point, DeRosa's outfield play (should he see any) would be welcomed by Giants fans and Bruce Bochy after the Pat Burrell/Aubrey Huff debacle at the beginning of the year.

    Ross may push some guys around in front of DeRosa, but DeRosa shouldn't have too much trouble finding playing time around the field.

Brandon Belt

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    LOS ANGELES, CA - APRIL 01:  Brandon Belt #9 of the San Francisco Giants bats against the Los Angeles Dodgers at Dodger Stadium on April 1, 2011 in Los Angeles, California.  (Photo by Jeff Gross/Getty Images)
    Jeff Gross/Getty Images

    Unfortunately for the Giants' Opening Day first baseman, he just does not seem quite ready to take on pitching at the major-league level.

    Though Belt has been touted for his plate discipline, earning a team-high eight walks so far this season, he is also second on the team in strikeouts with 12. His .196 batting average is not exactly an indication of success, even in April.

    The main issue for Belt does not exactly stem from Cody Ross' return, but more Aubrey Huff's inability to effectively play a corner outfield position. Huff feels much more at ease playing first base, and his bat is proven and vital to the team, even though he's started slow himself.

    Belt's only real option at this point would be to temporarily switch to the outfield. Now that Ross is coming back, the Giants would need to use Belt as a fourth or fifth outfielder, but that plan is not conducive to Belt's development as a hitter. As Bruce Bochy has already indicated, it might just be better to send Belt back down to Fresno for a while to get his hitting confidence back up.

    A more confident, more aggressive Brandon Belt later in the season might be just what the Giants need a little further down the road, so don't be too upset if you're a Belt fan like I am. There will be room for him on the roster sooner rather than later.

Nate Schierholtz

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    PEORIA, AZ - MARCH 08:  Nate Schierholtz #12 of the San Francisco Giants during the spring training baseball game against Seattle Mariners at Peoria Stadium on March 8, 2011 in Peoria, Arizona.  (Photo by Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images)
    Kevork Djansezian/Getty Images

    How many people saw Nate the Great's shot into the upper deck last night at Coors Field?

    If Schierholtz is going to stay in the lineup once Cody Ross returns, he's going to need more offensive performances like the one he had last night. Everyone knows he has a great arm and plays right field at AT&T as well as anyone, but the bat will be the turning point.

    So far, Nate has succeeded in his limited role by hitting .292. However, Ross will soon take over for Schierholtz in right, leaving Nate without much room to play. With Andres Torres sidelined for at least a couple weeks, the suddenly hot-hitting Aaron Rowand will remain in center field, so no help there.

    The only way Nate will get playing time is if Ross occasionally plays left field to fill in for Pat Burrell (defensive upgrade much?) and Schierholtz plays right, or when Ross gets a day off.

    Regardless of how Schierholtz has been playing recently, there just isn't really room to have him in the lineup consistently. His fight for playing time will only get harder once Torres comes back, so the immediate future does not look great for Nate.