Back home in California. We arrived late last night and I’m pretty beat, so I’ll make this a quick one with some overall impressions plus a few photos. You already know that the Giants lost to the Dodgers (or a facsimile of the Dodgers) on Saturday and beat the A’s on Sunday. You already know that three different pitchers got hit with line drives, two of whom (Alex Cobb and Tristan Beck) had to leave the game, but the third (Ross Stripling) was able to continue. The Cobb line drive was scary to see. Since we were in the park and just saw it in real time with no replay, we didn’t know until later where he’d been hit (face? pitching arm?). The saddest moment was when Ronald Guzman hurt his arm delivering a pitch yesterday. It was clear that he was both in pain and upset, and it was sad. I’d just taken a fun little video of his unusual delivery, but now I don’t really have the heart to post it.
Here are some impressions from the weekend games:
- Wow, Blake Sabol: That Saturday game was something–three hits including a long homer off #ForeverGiant Shelby Miller, a bunt single and stolen base, going from first to third on another single, and two walks. He’s become such a story that a couple of beat writers had to explain that no, the Giants can’t just work out a trade with the Pirates to keep Sabol–he’d have to pass clear waivers, which given his sizzling spring seems highly unlikely. Sabol is playing LF in today’s game against the Padres. He started at catcher on Friday and DH’d on Saturday, so clearly the Giants are trying to figure out a path forward for him. Mitch Haniger’s injury, which may last beyond Opening Day, also opens a possible spot for him.
- Casey Schmitt continued his strong spring with three hits on Saturday. He also started at shortstop, which was interesting, but I don’t recall that he got a single chance at short. David Villar ended up being scratched from that game, so we didn’t get to see the two homegrown guys together on the left side.
- Stock up: Tristan Beck: Beck relieved Stripling yesterday and was in the game when the Giants took the lead, so he got the win. He looked good and touched 98 on the gun. The line drive he took off his ankle didn’t seem bad, and he was almost through his third inning, anyway.
- Stock down: Sam Long. To be fair, Long entered Saturday’s game in an emergency after Cobb got drilled on the knee. But he was pretty bad. After striking out a couple of lefty hitters, twice he had batters at two strikes and served up meatballs over the plate for a two-run homer and a three-run homer. It was a five-run fourth, and the Giants never really got back in the game after that.
- Signs of life from the regulars: Wilmer Flores and Thairo Estrada (go Team Venezuela!) both had good days at the plate in Sunday’s game. In contrast, I didn’t think either LaMonte Wade Jr. or Mike Yastrzemski looked good at the plate at all. Together with Brandon Crawford‘s slow start, the Giants are looking pretty anemic from the left side and will really have to hope for big things from Michael Conforto and Joc Pederson. Hey, you know who hits lefty?–Blake Sabol!
- Who are these guys? After Friday’s game, I mentioned being surprised that 4-5 guys appeared for the Giants whose names I didn’t recognize. Well, there was more of that this weekend, especially on Saturday. Maybe they have to get to the bottom of the barrel because of players (including minor leaguers) who are off on WBC teams? Anyway, it was a weird feeling. The guy who came in to get the last out/save in yesterday’s game, Nick Morreale? I didn’t recognize his name at all, and I guess he was a late-round (14th) draft pick in 2019. And some guy named Sanchez whom we saw in two of three games. Where are some of the interesting prospects like Mason Black or Carson Whisenhunt, etc.? Or maybe they just prefer to have those guys spend all their time in minor league camp and not in mop-up duty in meaningless Cactus League games. Whatever the reasons, it seems like a change in operating procedure compared to our previous visits to spring training.
- After dissing Dinger the Dinosaur for being in the Rockies’ ballpark, I discovered that Lou Seal was in town for the weekend games at Scottsdale Stadium. He/it is quite the charmer but not so great operating a T-shirt cannon.
As we were heading home from the airport, MrLefty said that, while he’d had a good time in Scottsdale, he was struggling to engage with the team itself. Too many unfamiliar faces, and not just the minor leaguers I mentioned above. In previous trips, even when the team was coming off a down year, at least you were happy to see Buster again, or Hunter Pence, or Bumgarner and the Brandons. I would say the fans in Scottsdale Stadium were in a positive frame of mind toward the team, but the energy level was low–not much “Let’s Go Giants” happening.
Nice moment yesterday when Giants minor leaguer Carter Aldrete entered the game to play first base and was greeted by his uncle, Mike Aldrete, who is the A’s first base coach. Uncle Mike was a good Giant back in the day, too.
Cool moment in Scottsdale. Carter Aldrete enters at first base for the Giants and is greeted by his uncle, A’s first-base coach Mike Aldrete. pic.twitter.com/RgHTNHQosH
— John Shea (@JohnSheaHey) March 12, 2023
Here’s Sabol’s homer off Miller, who later said, “Who is that guy?”
Blake Sabol’s third hit of the day was a homer. It’s hard to make a team as a Rule 5 catcher, but he’s doing all he can do. He’s 9-for-17 with three homers this spring. pic.twitter.com/3j3IzgSZq1
— Alex Pavlovic (@PavlovicNBCS) March 11, 2023
After seeing the Giants get their butts kicked on Friday and Saturday, it was great to finally see a handshake line on Sunday. It was nice to see Hunter Pence in the TV booth with Duane Kuiper, and I said hi to Alex Pavlovic in the press box.
Last but not least, I got to say hi to our old friend Mavo, who was there with Dave Dravecky selling Mavo’s book and getting them signed (by Dravecky).
Anyway, we had a great time, and there were definitely a few interesting moments and a couple of scary ones. I’m glad we got to go back. Hope you enjoyed the reports. Lefty out.