Blake Sabol happily high-fives Giants teammates in the dugout after mashing a two-run homer. Photo credit: NBCS Bay Area


by DrLefty

The Giants opened their Cactus League season yesterday against the Cubs at Sloan Park in Mesa, and after watching the entire contest (thanks, Cubs TV!), I can say that the Giants’ equipment managers appeared to pack bats but not gloves on the team bus. (Do they take team buses to Cactus League games, or do the players drive their own cars?) It was a messy 10-8 loss, but it was entertaining on a number of levels, and there were more bright spots than low points, in my opinion.

Full box score here


Bright Spots

Casey Schmitt, a third baseman who will begin the year in AAA, is the Giants’ top position player prospect who is nearest to the major leagues. (Marco Luciano and Luis Matos are ranked higher and on the 40-man roster, but because of where they are in the minors, Schmitt is far more likely to make his major league debut before either of those younger guys do.) Schmitt overall had a great day. It began with an excellent defensive play in the bottom of the second inning. He made a flashy diving stop behind third to his right and astonished the Cubs’ hitter by throwing him out by a step. The runner maybe wasn’t busting it as hard as he could down the line, but it appears that was because he thought Schmitt had no chance of fielding the ball, let alone throwing him out from that deep. Schmitt was two-way player in college at San Diego State (their closer) and has a great arm.


Schmitt faltered a bit on two later plays, one of which was ruled an error, but the Cubs’ announcers were ooohing and aaahing about that first one and called it “Gold Glove caliber.” Now, Schmitt won the minor league Gold Glove at third base last season, and he’s long been considered an elite defensive talent with a major-league-ready glove. So it was great to see what he could also do with the bat, which was this bomb pulled to left field.


All in all, an excellent first game for Schmitt. Unless there are multiple injuries on the major league roster, for which we are not hoping, he will begin the season where he ended it last year, in AAA Sacramento. But catcher/outfielder/utility player Blake Sabol is perhaps the most intriguing story in a camp with few question marks as to the Opening Day roster (more on that at the end of this column). Sabol, you’ll recall, was a Rule 5 draftee out of Pittsburgh, claimed by Cincinnati but then immediately traded to the Giants. Because of his status, Sabol has to either make (and stay on) the major league roster or be offered back to the Pirates. The Giants, ever since the departure of Stephen Vogt after the 2019 season, have been looking for a player who can catch and bat left-handed.

Sabol can hit (.282/.372/.478/.850 in 900 minor league ABs), and he showed it yesterday with an impressive two-run homer to dead center (immediately followed by Schmitt’s) and later an RBI double the other way off a lefty reliever. Notably, the Giants had him start behind the plate for the first game, and he stayed there most of the game. Here are some comments about his defense from Alex Pavlovic’s gamer:

The Giants know Sabol’s bat is just about ready for this level, but it’ll be defense that they’re watching this spring. Sabol has caught just 94 games in the minors and manager Gabe Kapler noted that the framing was good Saturday, but the throws are still inconsistent.

“He fought for every strike,” Kapler said. “That’s a really good signal.”



Will Sabol show them enough to stick on the roster? It’s clear that they want to give him that chance. In other prospect sightings, rising outfield prospect Grant McCray came into the game as a pinch-runner after Thairo Estrada was hit by a pitch and then stayed in the game to play right field. In his one AB, he hit a ball to the wall, barely missing a homer, and sped around the bases for a triple.


In all, the Giants hit four homers. The other two were by LaMonte Wade Jr. and minor leaguer Shane Matheny.


The Dark Side

The Giants had 13 hits and eight runs and still lost, despite having a 7-2 lead going to the bottom of the fifth. Why? Well, let’s start with the obvious: they were charged with six (6) errors–and it could have been worse. The first misplay by Schmitt was not ruled an error, nor was an ugly clank in right field off Heliot Ramos which should have ended the inning for Sam Long, who deserved better than he got from his defense that inning (both of those non-errors plus a charged error by Estrada). Long kept his head pretty well, all things considered, striking out Cody Bellinger and Eric Hosmer, both of whom still can’t hit lefties.

The good news: Other than the one by Estrada, none of the errors were committed by players who are likely to be on the Opening Day roster. So it’s not quite as bad as it sounds. Similarly, the Giants’ 7-2 lead turned into a 9-7 deficit after a gruesome seven-run bottom of the fifth served up to the Cubs by relievers Drew Strotman and Michael Stryffeler. Strotman in particular was dreadful, giving up six runs on two hits, four walks, and two wild pitches. Managers like to have pitchers finish their innings in spring training games, but Kapler had to go get Strotman, who just could not throw a strike. Again, though, neither of those guys is likely to be part of the 2023 Giants, so we probably shouldn’t worry too much about them. In fact, with the possible exception of Long, not a single pitcher who appeared for the Giants yesterday has a chance to make the team out of camp, and only AAA starter Tristan Beck, who’s a new member of the 40-man roster, will possibly contribute to the 2023 team.


A Little February Side Trip to Oracle Park

The Mr and I went to SF on Friday to attend a Warriors game at the Chase Center, our first visit to the new-ish arena. We stayed at the new Luma Hotel, which is right past the Lefty O’Doul Bridge and an easy walk to the Chase Center. We could see into Oracle Park from our room. We had a bit of time on Friday afternoon, so we strolled around the park and browsed in the Giants Dugout store and Baseballism across the street. You can see from the photos here that the Giants still have last year’s (lame) slogan posted outside the park, but the (apparent) new one cycles through on the scoreboard, which appears to be always on.

Outside Oracle Park, Feb. 24, 2023

Oracle Park scoreboard, Feb. 24, 2023


We assume that the Dugout Store hasn’t added new merchandise yet–we’re still more than a month away from the home opener–but it was interesting to see which players’ jerseys (or shirseys) were displayed for sale in the “Clubhouse” part of the store. There weren’t many. Webb, Yaz, Wade Jr., Bart, Pederson, and a stand-alone section for Crawford. Sorry, Thairo, Doval, Slater, starters who are beginning their second or third years with the Giants (Wood, DeSclafani, Cobb)–no one thinks that fans want your jerseys. Will they add merch with Conforto’s name, or Haniger’s, or the Rogers twins’? When the Giants traded for Evan Longoria and Andrew McCutchen before the 2018 season, they had prominently displayed merch in the Scottsdale Stadium store. We shall see.


My26ManGuy™ Contest for 2023!

Here is the contest announcement from HaakAway:

My26ManGuys™ 2023

Fill in your MyGuyBallot™ for the Opening Day 26-Man.

To enter, click this link:

The “Core Twenty” are listed on the Ballot at the top. Options for the Final Six are listed on the ballot. You just check six boxes. There is even a write-in feature if you want to remove one of the Core Twenty and write in your own.

Last year these winners only missed one:
DrLefty, WatchingSince62, buyselltrade, Crawnik, South City Jim, doobieibood

Winners get an avwhMyGuy™ button honoring a blogger here, Allen Hirsch, who died way too young. He was one of our model debaters and prospect savvy fans. We seek to emulate him by maintaining a good focus by using MyGuy™. 

Monday, March 20 is the deadline for your picks.

You may edit your picks at any time before the deadline too so it can be a work in progress. The Tie-Breaker is by the date you submitted your ballot. The earlier your ballot the better Rookie TWG’er? We will only publish your name if you get the honor of Top Ten. No risk getting Blog Shamed here.

Winner will be announced on Opening Day plus One, March 31.


Today’s Game

Reds at Giants, Scottsdale Stadium, 12:05 p.m. Willie Mays time. Radio: KNBR (with Jon and Duane!)

Sean Manaea will start the game for the Giants. Here are all the pitchers scheduled to appear.



I didn’t write about seeing the new rules in action yesterday because I didn’t want this post to get even longer than it already is, but my early take on the pitch clock is that it does make the innings/play seem crisper. I don’t like the idea of games being decided by a pitch clock. I understand the arguments for speeding up the game, but in my opinion, one of the most beautiful things about baseball is the absence of a clock. I hate it in NBA or football games when teams start “playing the clock” rather than playing the actual game. I mean, I really HATE it. But here we are. Lefty out.