Sorry again for this belated report. The shine of our fun weekend in Scottsdale has worn off a bit given the Giants’ eighth-inning implosion on Monday and the butt-kicking they’re getting from the Cubs today.
Nonetheless, I’ll wrap up this three-part series with some notes from Sunday’s trip to the ballpark and what has happened since.
The weather was a little cooler on Sunday, and from our perspective, it couldn’t have been more perfect. On the way in, I stopped by to say hi to Mavo again and got to meet Rich Aurilia, who was signing at the ALS book sales/fundraiser table.
The game started off well with 3.2 solid innings by Jeff Samardzija. The Shark looked sharp and gave up two hits, two walks and a run, and he struck out four. The home plate umpire had a strange strike zone, and he squeezed Samardzija and ran up his pitch count, keeping Shark from finishing the fourth inning. There was stank-eye happening as Shark left the game, but afterward, he seemed happy with his performance. From Kerry Crowley’s gamer:
Earlier this spring, Samardzija joked that his splitter is like “a hot cheating girlfriend,” who isn’t always loyal to him, but the right-hander said after Sunday’s outing that he and the pitch “are together right now.”
Darin Ruf continued his hot streak by going 3 for 3 with three doubles. In the two games I saw, Ruf went 6 for 6 with three doubles and two homers. And every single one of them was hit a ton. Though there doesn’t seem to be a path for him to make the team, he certainly is making the decision harder for the Giants, and that’s what you want as a non-roster invitee.
It sure was nice to see Hunter Pence and Buster Posey batting third and fourth and partying like it was 2014. They both had two hits, and Pence pulled a long homer to left.
Yeah, baby! 👊
@hunterpence | #SFGSpring pic.twitter.com/DBdmNTT5bd
— SFGiants (@SFGiants) March 8, 2020
I think my biggest takeaway of our visit is that Buster is definitely driving the ball. We’re not talking singles poked through holes in the infield. We’re talking line drives into gaps and to the wall. It’s probably been 2-3 years since I’ve seen him hit like that.
Yolmer Sanchez, the reigning American League Gold Glover at 2B, started at shortstop and made two great plays there. After the game, former White Sox teammate Jeff Samardzija had many complementary things to say about Sanchez as a player and as a teammate.
The game was finished by Shaun Anderson, who pitched the last two innings, and even though he gave up a solo homer, it was by far his best outing of the spring.
After two separate visits and three games at Scottsdale Stadium, my initial impressions of the 2020 Giants:
- The starting pitchers are doing a good job of getting the game off on the right foot (but yiiiiiikes, Johnny Cueto today).
- As a group, the position players in camp are more competent than last year’s bunch (Remember Drew Ferguson? Henry Ramos? Anthony Garcia? Cameron Maybin?). Though some of the guys making noise, like Ruf and Zach Green, are unlikely to make the team, there is power, speed, defensive ability, and athleticism throughout the roster. They’re taking good, aggressive at-bats, driving the ball well, and running the bases with energy. It’s hard to say whether that’s to Farhan Zaidi’s/Scott Harris’s credit (for bringing in more talent) or if Gabe Kapler and his coaching staff are just getting more out of the players who are there. Some of both, I’d think.
- Related to the previous point: I think Sacramento looks to have a very strong team again this year.
- The bullpen looks….aargghhhh. Scary. After being the clear strength of the 2019 Giants, the reliever corps looks to be possibly its greatest weakness, at least to start. And, um, has anyone noticed that Tony Watson still hasn’t pitched in a Cactus League game?
Cuts and deep cuts
The Giants announced today that they’ve re-assigned Joey Bart and Christhian Adames to minor league camp and have optioned Enderson Franco and Joe McCarthy to AAA. I wouldn’t say any of those guys were likely to make the 26-man Opening Day roster, though I thought Franco might have an outside shot at a bullpen spot if he pitched well in camp.
Non-roster invitee reliever Matt Carasiti, whom we saw pitch well in the Cactus League opener a couple weeks ago, injured his elbow last Thursday and by Monday was having Tommy John surgery. Guess there wasn’t much ambiguity in his MRI. Tyler Beede, meanwhile, went to see Dr. Neal ElAttrache in Los Angeles yesterday for a second opinion about whether or not he needs surgery.
MLB has banned reporters from the clubhouse due to coronavirus concerns. Baggs took the news well.
If true, this is not a sensible precaution. This is brain dead, simple-minded, follow-the-leader, fear-paralyzed, suspension-of-reason bullshit. https://t.co/oauIpgqjq2
— Andrew Baggarly (@extrabaggs) March 9, 2020
The Giants claimed outfielder Jose Siri, age 24, off waivers from Cincinnati, moving catcher Aramis Garcia to the 60-day injured list. Siri is known as a defense-and-speed outfielder who doesn’t hit much, but new hitting coach Donnie Ecker worked with him in Cincinnati and thinks he has some upside at the plate, and Zaidi calls him “an intriguing project.” (This likely means, of course, that Siri will be DFA by Thursday.)
But while he’s here, sure, commence the Siri jokes.
Don’t forget that your ballots are due for My26ManGuy™ (if you’re playing), by Sunday, March 15. To enter, reply to any HaakAway post or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. It struck me that if the Giants seem serious about using Mauricio Dubon in center field, that could allow them to carry fewer outfielders and open up a bench spot for someone like Ruf or Yolmer Sanchez.
This was our 11th straight year of going to Scottsdale for spring training, and it’s always a highlight of our winter/spring. It was an especially poignant weekend of enjoying sunshine, baseball, family, and fun while knowing we’re all heading into an uncertain few weeks or months. Take care, stay healthy, be wise. Lefty out.