Giants wind down exhibition season with big roster decisions looming

March 31, 2017

MLB, San Francisco Giants

San Francisco Giants’ Chris Marrero, left, slides safely into second base with a double as Oakland Athletics shortstop Marcus Semien waits for the throw from the outfield during the fifth inning of an exhibition baseball game Thursday, March 30, 2017, in San Francisco. (AP Photo/Marcio Jose Sanchez)

By Morris Phillips

SAN FRANCISCO–The Giants needed a new left fielder with the team opting not to renew Angel Pagan’s contract.  But they couldn’t have envisioned the crowded field of competitors that emerged for the opening.

Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson were tabbed first as experienced minor leaguers with big league experience, both thought to be ready for a promotion.  Then 35-year old Michael Morse was signed to a minor league deal after missing almost all of the 2016 season.

But during spring training, Williamson suffered an injured quad, and Morse impressed, but was felled by a hamstring injury.  And 28-year old Chris Marrero, a journeyman with no home runs in any of the 39 big league games he played for the Nationals in 2011 and 2013, turned into the Babe Ruth of the Cactus League.

The 6’3″ Marrero clubbed eight home runs in Arizona, then in his AT&T Park debut on Thursday in the Bay Bridge series, he came within inches of sending a shot off the left field foul pole.

In the Giants 3-0 win over the A’s, Marrero contributed a double in his second at-bat, and made a couple of nifty catches in the outfield, and looked comfortable, all of which manager Bruce Bochy noticed.

“He had a couple of good at-bats. It was a good game for him,” Bochy said. “The first time here in left field, and it’s not an easy left field, he looked comfortable. He looked relaxed. All those things.”

Bochy begged off announcing any roster decisions, those he said,would be announced before Friday night’s game, but Marrero appears to have earned a spot.

One scenario would have Marrero making starts against right-handed starters with Parker starting against lefties in a platoon the Giants were reluctant to consider previously.  But Marrero’s pop can’t be ignored, nor can his defensive liabilities that should preclude him being named the full-time starter at this point.

A couple of things are apparent prior to Bochy’s announcements: both Morse and Williamson will begin the season on the disabled list.

NOTES: The Giants’ desire to bolster their bullpen after last season’s frequent meltdowns appears to be headed in the right direction despite the announcement setup man/closer Will Smith will undergo elbow surgery and miss the entire season.

Mark Melancon, the $62 million addition, will close and impressed this spring with his appearances and his thinking man’s game.  Derek Law, Hunter Strickland, Josh Osich and Cody Gearrin all are in the mix as setup guys as is George Kontos, a mainstay looking for a bigger role.  Also, rookie Ty Blach, considered for the fifth-starter’s role, could make the club as a bullpen guy, possibly the long reliever.



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