Spring Training Update – March 15th

As the Giants pass the All-Sun Break (Spring Training's unofficial midway point), the biggest questions remain unanswered: Who's the 5th outfielder? Will Foppert start the season in San Francisco or Fresno? Who will round out the bullpen? Get ready for the Spring Stretch Run.

Game Results:
Saturday, March 12: San Francisco (ss) 2, Kansas City 1
Saturday, March 12: San Francisco (ss) 7, Los Angeles Angels (ss) 4
Sunday, March 13: San Francisco 3, Kansas City 3

Top Performers: Lance Niekro and Brian Dallimore
Weekend Stats: Niekro – 3 for 4; Dallimore – 2 for 4, RBI
For the Spring: Niekro – 7 for 18 (.389), 2 2B, 2 RBI; Dallimore: 9 for 21 (.429), 2 2B, 5 RBI

Sure, officially there are no infield utility spots open. Don’t tell that to Lance and Brian. One can try to temper the excitement over their production by noting they don’t usually start and are often facing other minor leaguers, but you can’t fault the production when they get their shots. Dallimore in particular has seemed to be a part of most of the Giants’ comebacks or wins this offseason. He’s also had a chance to flash some leather.

Even if there are no jobs open for Opening Day, these two are jockeying for position on the depth chart. If, heaven forbid, there is an injury to one of the infielders, either one of these two are the likely call-ups. Dallimore has an advantage because he can also back up 2nd base. But Niekro is younger, and can cover either corner. Some observers think his bat is ready for the majors, if only he could stay healthy. Well, he’s healthy now.

Position Battle Update:

The big news is that the Giants have apparently backed off Manager Felipe Alou’s comments that Foppert was a lock to break the season with the big team. It’s not for lack of talent, but lack of starting spots. Alou said this weekend, "It's one of the last things we'll discuss. If he can pitch out of the pen, that's great, but he's a big league pitcher.”

Foppert, himself, had a comment on his preference. “"I'd probably go longer in between appearances in long relief with the quality starters we have,” he said. “I think I'd rather be a starter. It's an ideal job -- one of the best in sports. You know when you're going to pitch, have a set routine and a plan ... and play golf," I don’t know how the golf is in Fresno, but the starting rotation would open up for him if needed.

Then again, it’s no lock that if the Giants wanted Foppert to concentrate on being a starter, that he’d begin the season in Fresno. Jerome Williams missed his last start while being with his father, who is recovering from a serious illness. Williams may be granted as much time as needed to spend time with his family, and in that case, Foppert would fill in.

Confused yet?

The rest of the situation with the bullpen is starting to clear up. Matt Kinney had a terrible outing over the weekend, giving up back-to-back-to-back home runs against the Royals. In 3 outings, he’s allowed 6 home runs, and that has dropped him far back in the crowded bullpen picture. Meanwhile, non-roster invitee Brandon Villafuerte has pushed his name into the debate. He pitched 2 shutout innings, bringing his total to 4 innings, all scoreless, in 3 appearances. He has given up 3 hits and a walk versus only 1 strikeout however, and hasn’t dominated.

Two other pitchers who have scoreless springs are Al Levine and Wayne Franklin. Levine has 2 wins in his 4 appearances, and has given up 3 hits and 1 walk versus 3 K’s. Meanwhile, Franklin gave up his first hit of the spring (3.2 innings) this weekend. He also walked one, but struck out 2, giving him four punchouts for the spring. He’s beginning to look like a very possible left-handed option.

In the outfield, Jason Ellison had a fluff piece ran on him on sfgiants.com this weekend. That’s usually a good sign. He raised his average with a 1 for 4 weekend, but remains 3 for 17 for the spring, a .176 average. He has gotten plenty of chances to show off his defense, his best asset, and is earning raves on that front. Linden’s production has dropped off (currently 4 for 25, .160), and meanwhile, Tony Torcato is raising his. Torcato is batting .500 (7 for 14) with 2 doubles and 3 RBI, and he’s even managed a stolen base. Torcato could be a valuable left handed bat off the bench, and he’s out of options. If he continues to produce, the Giants could be hard-pressed not to keep him on the roster and risk losing him on waivers.

Meanwhile, Lance Niekro and Brian Dallimore continue to press the cause of having an extra infielder on the team (see above).

An Addition To The Roster

Congratulations to Brian Dallimore and his wife Kim. Their second daughter, Melani Dawn, was born Saturday night in a Phoenix area hospital.

Love me, hate me, idolize me, or laugh at me, just don't ignore me. Let me know what you think: write me at kevin@ugcfilms.com .

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