Ahh... Baseball Returns!
Now, the fact that baseball's back and everybody escaped Tuesday's game in one piece is about the best you can say in terms of the Giants' day. Both Giants' starters who made appearances gave up runs with Madison Bumgarner especially having a difficult day. The one that was so hard for Kansas City and the rest of baseball to figure out in October, got rouged up in his 1 2/3 innings of work. He allowed the A's to get to him for 4 runs (all earned) on 5 hits, including an impressive 2-run blast off the bat off the best player on the field Tuesday, Marcus Semien. On a positive note, Bum did strikeout a pair and didn't walk a batter in just under two innings of work, but otherwise he'll be looking to work on some things before his next outing but hey, that's what spring is for right. Get all the kinks out now and rather than April. After MadBum's rough go, Brett Bochy came in for a sloppy 1/3 of an inning to close out Bum's outing before Tim Lincecum came in to start the 2nd. Besides the bomb that Ben Zobrist just missed from knocking out of the park, instead settling for a double off the wall, Timmy looked crisp. He did allow the run as the A's were able to manufacture Zobrist in from second base but besides that one mistake to a premiere hitter, Timmy wasn't too shabby (2K's, 0 BB).
Other than Lincecum and Bumgarner, the only other Giants' arms who ARE SURE to be on the 25-man roster to start the year each had scoreless outings. Jeremy Affeldt allowed a hit and a strikeout while Jean Machi had a perfect inning with a strikeout. The reliever still on the bubble, Hunter Strickland, didn't get his spring off to a good start as he continued right were he left off last fall, giving up the long ball. The 26 year-old flame throwing right-hander gave up a two-run big fly to Jason Pridie and then allowed an additional run as well, bringing his inning line to: 1 IP 3 H, 1BB, 3 ER, 1 HR. He's got that 99-mph heater nut if your giving up a jack nearly every outing it doesn't much matter. It certainly wasn't a good start though for a guy who's gonna have to be pretty darn good in order to make this roster out of spring.
In terms of the bats, both Giants' newcomers reached base in their unofficial Giants debut. With Buster Posey, Angel Pagan, Brandon Crawford and Hunter Pence all getting the day off, the lineup was a little different than it will normally be. Nori Aoki hit out of the leadoff spot Casey McGehee hit out of the three spot where he reached base in both at-bats with a hit and a walk. Regulars Brandon Belt and Joe Panik, respectively, went just 1-3 and 0-3 but one guy with an outside shot at making the squad did get the job done. Adam Duval, who just keeps seeming to stay relevant, was the only Giant with a multi-hit day (2-4), getting the team on the board with a solo blast in the 2nd. With the Giants lack of power, Duvall could make a strong case for himself with a huge spring, especially if he could go out and master left field. He'd seem like an ideal fit as a right-handed caddie to Aoki in left with that legit big power. He does have the flexibility to play 2nd, 3rd and 1st so adding LF to his arsenal could be what cinches his spot on the 25-man.
Right now, the only ones 100% sure to get bench spots are Gregor Blanco, Joaquin Arias and at least one catcher (hopefully Sanchez so Sussac can play everyday in Sac). The other two spots are open with Matt Duffy, Juan Perez and Travis Ishikawa the clear front-runners, but things could change. That's gonna be one of the few areas to be determined this spring. Aside from the obvious fifth starter competition that Bruce Bochy refuses to admit exists, one of the others I'm curious to see are just where Aoki ends up hitting in Boch's batting order. I still think it may be wisest to lead him off and try Pagan third, if not then further down in the order. Just my opinion but it stretches out the lineup a bit and Aoki's numbers atop the order back it up!
I'd be totally on board with this lineup: Aoki, Panik, Pagan, Posey, Pence, Belt, McGehee, Crawford... I don't know, just looks better than having Aoki down in the 7th spot to me for some reason. Having Aoki so low limits some of his best aspect; his ability to get on and run. He's a higher OBP guy than Pagan and better on the base paths, especially at this point. Speed and contact at the top that wont clog the bases, then the run producers from there on down, then Brandon Crawford. No, no, in all fairness to BCraw though, he keeps getting better each year and I expect 2015 to be his best yet (plus that glove is worth far more than any offensive shortcomings).