SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — The final day before the Cactus League season ended up being a short one. Rain kept the Giants from taking the field Monday and players were given the option of heading home after a morning meeting. When they return Tuesday, the Giants will be playing actual baseball.
The spring season begins at Hohokam Stadium on Tuesday when the Giants help the A’s introduce their new digs in the first of a back-to-back series between the two Bay Area teams. Manager Bruce Bochy is using Game 1 as an opportunity to see his new guys in key roles. Here’s the lineup for the spring opener:
Regulars Angel Pagan, Hunter Pence, Buster Posey and Brandon Crawford will skip the short trip to Mesa and instead start on Wednesday at Scottsdale Stadium. Tim Lincecum is scheduled to follow Bumgarner on the mound, with Jeremy Affeldt and Hunter Strickland among those set to pitch in relief. While talking about the lineup, Bochy gave some insight into roster decisions. Simply put: There won’t be many.
Bochy indicated that there is likely only one bench spot to be won, with Joaquin Arias a very good bet to win the first backup infield spot. So, what would a five-man bench look like? Here’s a guess, based on what we know: Arias, Gregor Blanco, Travis Ishikawa, Backup Catcher, Infielder Who Wins Spring Training Battle. At this point, Ehire Adrianza has to be considered the favorite to join Arias. Adrianza is out of options.
[REWIND: Adrianza in battle for roster spot]
The option game comes into play in the bullpen, too. If all the starting pitchers are healthy, the Giants have one bullpen spot up for grabs and three right-handers out of options: George Kontos, Jean Machi and Erik Cordier. Bochy wouldn’t say if Machi — the incumbent, so to speak — is the favorite.
“He had a good year for us,” Bochy said. “(But) George is throwing the ball very well. There are some big power arms down there, too. A couple of them (Cordier and Hunter Strickland) are competing to make the club.”
With so many spots locked up, much of this month becomes about identifying Triple-A depth. On that note, keep an eye on left fielder Justin Maxwell, who is hitting cleanup in his first game with the Giants. Maxwell, 31, hit 18 homers for the Astros in 2012 but has been unable to stick in the big leagues. He spent most of last season in Triple-A for the Royals, hitting .285 with eight homers in 207 at-bats. If the season started today, Andrew Susac would likely be the only right-handed power bat on the bench.
“He’s got good power and he had that nice year in Houston,” Bochy said of Maxwell. “I look forward to watching him and getting to know him. He’ll get some playing time. You’re looking at a need for a right-handed bat out there, and he’s going to get a look, some at-bats. I’ll throw him out there as much as I can.”