Roster Settled: Ellison, Fassero, Torcato in

With the Saturday night deadline to set the Opening Day rosters, the Giants had to make some tough decisions. They eventually opted to keep the players that would be able to get out of their contracts or clear waivers to return to the minors.

The only player the Giants kept that they wouldn’t have risked losing if he had been sent down was Jason Ellison, whose defensive abilities in center field in particular made him very valuable, in addition to a strong offensive spring.

In Jeff Fassero, the Giants added another veteran who can both start and relieve to the staff. Fassero, 42, was signed to a minor league deal in the offseason and invited to Spring Training, but he had a provision that would allow him to get out of his deal if he did not make the active roster. Fassero has a 4.09 career ERA, and had a 5.46 ERA in 41 appearances (12 starts) for Colorado and Arizona in ’04. Fassero has not had an ERA under 5.35 for a season since 2001, and was cut from the Rockies last September after disagreements concerning playing time. He is the third lefty reliever on the roster, along with Scott Eyre and Jason Christiansen.

Tony Torcato, 25, and Tyler Walker, 28, were both out of options and would’ve had to clear waivers to make it back to the minors. The right handed pitcher Walker had a 4.24 ERA with the Giants in 2004, throwing 63.2 innings in relief, saving one game and earning 5 holds. He had a 5.73 ERA in 11 outings this spring, giving up 7 runs and 2 walks while striking out 11 in 11.0 innings pitched. Torcato, the 19th overall pick for the Giants in 1998, made the opening da roster for the first time in his career. He has a career average of .306 in the majors in 36 total at bats, including batting .556 in 9 AB’s in 2004. Torcato hit .289 in Fresno last year, his third straight year in AAA, and he hit .372 in the spring with 4 doubles and 3 triples in 43 at bats. Torcato is primarily a corner outfielder, but can play a little bit at first and third if needed. He will also be used as one of the left handed pinch hitters off the bench.

The moves left several Giants to go back to Fresno yet again. Utilityman Brian Dallimore was left off the roster yet again, despite hitting a Cactus League high .509 throughout the spring, and knocking in the winning run Friday night against Oakland. The Stanford graduate hit .324 in Fresno last year, and a league high .352 the year before that. He also hit .279 in 20 games in the majors last year, including a memorable Grand Slam for his first major league hit that keyed a comeback win against the Florida Marlins. First and third baseman Lance Niekro hit .310 during the spring, but may have to prove he can stay healthy before getting a full time shot in the majors.

Meanwhile, Jesse Foppert was likely sent down to keep starting on a regular basis. Coming back after missing nearly all of 2004 from a Tommy John surgery, he had a 5.40 ERA in the spring over 6 games (15 innings). Most observers agree he will be the top choice to fill any holes in the rotation that may arise during the season, but he will likely be done more good having a regular starting job than adjusting to life in the bullpen.

Scott Munter, a 47th round pick in 2001, had impressed this spring but still fell short of making the majors. He had a 0.84 ERA in 10.2 innings, giving up only 1 earned run (as well as 2 unearned). Munter split time in AA Norwich and AAA Fresno in 2004, managing a 2.35 ERA in Norwich and a 3.45 ERA in Fresno. He will likely need to prove he can be just as effective before cracking a very tough roster in San Francisco.

With the final decisions in, the Giants have 12 pitchers and 13 position players, and the roster looks like this:


C – Mike Matheny
1B – J.T. Snow
2B – Ray Durham
3B – Edgardo Alfonzo
SS – Omar Vizquel
LF – Pedro Feliz (Will also back up 1st and 3rd)
CF – Marquis Grissom
RF – Moises Alou

OF – Michael Tucker
2B/SS – Deivi Cruz
C – Yorvit Torrealba
OF – Jason Ellison
OF/1B/3B – Tony Torcato

SP – Jason Schmidt
SP – Kirk Rueter
SP – Brett Tomko
SP – Noah Lowry
SP – Jerome Williams

CL – Armando Benitez
SU – Matt Herges
SU – Jim Brower
LHP – Scott Eyre
LHP – Jason Christiansen
LR – Tyler Walker
LR – Jeff Fassero

When Bonds comes off the DL, another tough decision will have to be made concerning who will come off the roster to make room for him.

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