SCOTTSDALE — Other than Madison Bumgarner and Jason Heyward getting into a brief argument, the most interesting thing to happen Thursday took place on a minor league field, a couple miles from Scottsdale Stadium.
Ehire Adrianza played left field in a camp game, which tells you as much about the Giants’ thinking when it comes to the Opening Day roster as anything that’s happened in 38 days here. Adrianza is a strong defender at short and second and has handled the corner infield spots. He said he would take additional fly balls in the outfield over the next week, and it’s not a leap to suggest the Giants are having him become more versatile so they can carry just four outfielders.
"He looks like a determined young man," manager Bruce Bochy said. "He can be a super-utility guy. Those guys are invaluable."
Here’s how it could play out: Hunter Pence, Denard Span, Angel Pagan and Gregor Blanco would be on the roster, with Adrianza, Brandon Belt and potentially Kelby Tomlinson available to play the outfield in a pinch. Behind closed doors, the Giants have talked quite a bit about starting the season with 13 pitchers. By going with just four outfielders, they could carry 13 pitchers, two backup infielders (likely Adrianza and Tomlinson) and a backup catcher (likely Trevor Brown, since Andrew Susac is hurt).
After signing innings-eaters Jeff Samardzija and Johnny Cueto, the coaching staff hoped to carry just 12 pitchers throughout the season. Bochy said early in camp that he was strongly leaning that way, but in the weeks since the starting staff has struggled to get through innings.
“With where we’re at as far as length we’re getting from some of the pitchers, we don’t want to overtax them,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Ideally you like to stay away from (13 pitchers on staff) with the five starting pitchers getting deep into the game, which we believe they will, but starting out, we’re a little behind with the hiccups with Madison (who missed a start) and Matt Cain (who missed two).”
The Giants have just one off day through April 27, further taxing a staff that hasn’t had a good month. Cueto’s outing Friday — six innings, eight hits, three runs, six strikeouts — was easily the sharpest of the spring by a member of the rotation.
“He’s gotten some traction here the last couple of starts with his delivery and location,” Bochy said. “He was good today. It was effortless. I really thought he hit his spots well. It’s just nice to have a quality start. It’s been a rough go. It’s time to tighten things up.”
Cueto got into the 90s with his pitch count Friday and said he was pleased with the way he was able to work inside. He also said, through translator Erwin Higueros, that he’s ready for Opening Day. He'll take the ball in the second game of the season, followed by Jeff Samardzija, Jake Peavy (home opener) and Cain (if healthy).
“Everything felt good,” Cueto said. “Everything was working.”
Cueto even got two at-bats in against his former team. He singled to right in the third inning and had to hustle to first when Paulo Orlando came up firing. Cueto barely beat the throw from right to first.
“I guess he doesn’t like me,” Cueto joked.
He chatted with several old teammates as he made his way around the bases, eventually scoring on Belt’s fifth homer of the spring. Cueto said he doesn’t know when he will get his World Series ring.
“I don’t care how they give it to me, as long as they give it to me,” he said, smiling.