Giants Spring Training: Reliever Smith out for season; defeat Padres

March 25, 2017

MLB, San Francisco Giants

AP file photo: San Francisco Giants relief pitcher Will Smith (13) on the mound during an MLB National League Division Series Game 3 Baseball game between the Chicago Cubs and the San Francisco Giants Sunday October 10, 2016 at the AT&T Park, San Francisco Ca. The San Francisco Giants defeated the Chicago Cubs 6-5. (Bill Nichols Images via AP)

By DANIEL DULLUM
Sports Radio Service
Saturday, March 25, 2017

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The big news out of the San Francisco Giants camp occurred on Friday, when the team announced that left-handed reliever Will Smith will undergo Tommy John surgery and is out for the 2017 season.

Smith was acquired by San Francisco from Milwaukee at the non-waiver trade deadline in 2016. He was 1-1 with a 2.95 earned run average for the Giants down the stretch, with 26 strikeouts and nine walks.

Not only will Smith miss all of this season, there’s a good chance he’ll miss most of 2018 Spring Training. Smith was expected to fill a setup role in the Giants bullpen. It’s likely George Kontos, Hunter Strickland and Josh Osich will provide the bullpen bridge to closer Mark Melancon.

Other Giants battling spring injuries are INF Eduardo Nunez (sore right shoulder), OF Michael Morse (strained left hamstring), OF Mac Williamson (strained quad) and C Trevor Brown (sprained right knee). Brown is day-to-day.

Morse, meanwhile, is trying to make a case for himself to stick as a reserve outfielder. The 35-year-old Morse is hitting .265 with three homers, two doubles and eight RBIs.

TOUGH DAY FOR STRATTON
Right-hander Chris Stratton was called up from San Francisco’s minor league camp to start Saturday’s Cactus League game between the Giants and the San Diego Padres, in part so Johnny Cueto could start a minor league game against Arizona down the street from Scottsdale Stadium.

Stratton came into Saturday with a 1-0 record and a spring ERA of 1.80. After the first three innings, those numbers changed considerably.

The Padres went yard for all seven runs they scored off Stratton in the first three innings, with Cory Spangenberg, Erick Aybar and Jamie Romak all connecting for home runs.

Stratton gave up seven earned runs on nine hits in his three innings, with three strikeouts and a walk. But his ERA also ballooned to 9.00. The good news for Stratton is that he wound up with a no-decision.

BATTLE FOR ROSTER SPOTS
Going into the final week of Spring Training, there’s still a four-way battle among the non-roster invitees for a utility infielder spot on the 25-man roster.

Chris Marrero appears to have the best shot of sticking among that group. Marrero, 29, is batting .300 with seven home runs and 13 runs batted in. As the Giants’ DH Saturday, Marrero was 0-for-3 with a walk and a run scored.
Aaron Hill, a 2009 All-Star for Arizona, started at third base for San Francisco Saturday, going 0-for-3 with an RBI. Hill is hitting .209 with three RBIs in 45 at-bats.

It might be the end of the line for Jimmy Rollins, the 39-year-old Bay Area native and former National League most valuable player. Rollins is hitting .079 in 43 plate appearances; Jae-gyun Hwang is hitting .308.

THE GAME
After the Padres took an early 7-1 lead, San Francisco chipped away over the next six innings before emerging with an 8-7 win. Jae-gyun Hwang’s bases-loaded bloop single to shallow right-center in the bottom of the ninth pushed the winning run across off Padres’ reliever Carlos Fisher (0-1).

By the ninth, the top of the Giants order was occupied by non-roster invitees. Justin Ruggiano led off with a walk and moved to second when Rando Moreno hit into a fielder’s choice. After Austin Slater was hit by a pitch to load the bases, Hwang sliced a shallow fly that eluded a diving San Diego centerfielder Allen Cordoba, driving in Ruggiano.

Buster Posey’s solo home run – his first of the spring outside of the World Baseball Classic – accounted for the Giants’ first run. In the bottom of the sixth, Posey dropped a flare into shallow right field for a base hit, preceding Brandon Crawford’s home run to right-center off Padres starter Clayton Richard (wearing No. 3), closing the Giants’ deficit to 7-5.

In the seventh, Ruggiano led off with a double and scored on Joe Panik’s triple to right-center. One inning later, the Giants tied the game at 7-7 when Matt Reynolds – pinch-running for Chris Marrero, who walked – scored from first when Gorkys Hernández was thrown out trying to stretch his double to center into a triple.

Right-hander Neil Ramirez (2-0) gave up a hit and struck out one in the ninth to get the win. Ramirez, Jose Flores, Mike Melancon, George Kontos, Josh Osich and Cory Gearrin held the Padres scoreless from the fourth inning forward.

WORLD BASEBALL CLASSIC
The Giants were prominently represented in Team USA’s 8-0 championship win over Puerto Rico at Dodger Stadium on March 22.
Catcher Buster Posey was 4-for-15 (.267) with two home runs and four runs batted in, shortstop Brandon Crawford hit .385, going 10-for-26 with a triple and six RBIs. Closer Mark Melancon struck out one while giving up a walk and a hit in a 2/3 scoreless inning.

PLAY BALL LUNCHEON
This Friday, the Giants host their annual Play Ball Luncheon at the Hilton San Francisco Union Square. It’s the Giants Community Fund’s largest fundraising event, helping at-risk children through the Junior Giants program.

HOME STRETCH
The Giants have four exhibition games remaining in the Valley of the Sun before heading back home for the Bay Bridge Series against the Oakland Athletics. games at AT&T Park on Thursday and Friday, and Saturday at the Coliseum.

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