Programming note: Tune in to CSN Bay Area on Monday at 10am for exclusive Giants Opening Day coverage from Milwaukee
OAKLAND — Five days after unofficially setting their Opening Day roster, the Giants made it official.
The final roster is one you could have set at the beginning of the spring. All the starting position players are healthy, so Gregor Blanco will start as the fourth outfielder and Ehire Adrianza (who had an eye-opening spring) and Kelby Tomlinson back up the infielders. Trevor Brown beat out Andrew Susac for the second catcher spot.
The Giants had originally intended to carry just seven relievers, but manager Bruce Bochy wants coverage as the team plays 23 games in the first 24 days of the season. Cory Gearrin, who was out of options, made the staff as an extra arm. Chris Heston will serve as the long reliever. Heston spent much of the spring preparing to possibly replace an injured starter, but Matt Cain is ready to roll after coming on late in camp. Cain threw 88 pitches over five innings Saturday at The Coliseum, allowing just two hits and one earned run (two other runs scored when Denard Span made two errors on one fly ball).
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“That felt good,” he said. “We got into a good rhythm in the bullpen and kind of just carried it into the game. We did a lot of things right today.”
Cain missed the first couple turns through the rotation this spring after having a cyst removed from his right arm, but he got over 90 pitches in his last start in Arizona and cruised on Saturday. With Cain feeling strong, the Giants head to Milwaukee with a remarkably healthy roster.
The full squad should have an early edge in the National League West. The Dodgers, winners of the last three division titles, spent all spring dealing with injuries, including major ones to Andre Ethier and Brett Anderson. The Diamondbacks lost star center fielder A.J. Pollock to a fractured elbow on Friday night, and there’s a chance their second-best position player misses the entire season.
“We have our starters stretched out and ready to go,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “Our position players are healthy — we answered a lot of questions as far as the health of a few guys. They’re set to go. I like where they’re at as far as at-bats or innings. It’s time to go, and I think these guys are ready.”
The only concern for Bochy on Saturday was Buster Posey coming down with the flu, but the catcher stayed home for the final game of the Bay Bridge Series so he could get 48 hours to recover before the first pitch of the season. Bochy knocked on his wooden desk as he talked about health; he knows guys will go down, and it will happen soon. That’s the nature of the game. For now, though, he’s happy.
“I’m just so pleased with how they came together,” he said. “The guys are healthy and ready to go. That’s all you want as a manager.”
The Giants will fly to Milwaukee on Sunday and play Monday afternoon against the Brewers, with Madison Bumgarner making his third consecutive Opening Day start. Hunter Strickland, Josh Osich, Brown, Tomlinson and Heston will all be going through the Opening Day festivities for the first time.
Cain, the longest-tenured Giant, may be the last of the 25 to see the field. He’s not scheduled to pitch again until April 8, at home against the Dodgers. Coming off two straight shortened seasons, it’s hard to know what to expect from Cain. After his start Saturday, a reporter asked Cain about the perception from outsiders that sights are set lower. He shrugged.
“That’s their opinion,” he said. “I know what I’m capable of doing.”
--- Adrianza hit a solo homer in the ninth against the A's, but that was one of the lone highlights. Eric Surkamp, a former Giant, came out of the bullpen for an injured Felix Doubront and gave up just two hits in seven shutout innings.
"Bob (Melvin) put him in and rode his horse," Bochy said, smiling. "He went right through us. He's a great kid and is throwing well. He threw well today. I'm happy for him."
Surkamp is headed for Triple-A Nashville, where Barry Zito pitched for the A's a year ago. This reminds me of one of my favorite fluky what-if Giants moments: Surkamp legitimately might have pushed a struggling Zito out of the rotation in 2012, but he needed Tommy John surgery and the Giants didn't really have anyone else knocking the door down. Zito got one last shot and ended up saving the season in St. Louis months later. Baseball is weird.
--- Mike Broadway came in and walked the bases loaded today. Then he got a pop-out and a double-play grounder. I don't think they showed it on TV, but Broadway was pumping his fists and yelling all the way back to the dugout (and it's a long trip at The Coliseum Formerly Known as O.co).
"That's what he's capable of doing," Bochy said. "He got possessed at that point and said enough is enough ... he's had a rough spring, but he found a way to get out of it."
--- That's it for the spring. If you were around for all seven weeks, thank you for reading. If you're jumping back in the mix as Opening Day approaches, a few plugs ...