Position Battle Update - March 8th

It was an exciting week in Giants camp, going 4 for 5 in Spring Training games. At the same time, the first cuts of the spring hit, and so did the first injury. So who's moving up and who's not doing so hot? I'll give you a hint: the young players doing well are NOT the pitchers!

Position: First Base
The Contenders:
Rich Aurilia – 3-11, 2 R, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 2 SO
Ryan Klesko – 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Mark Sweeney – 2-9, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 3 SO
Lance Niekro – 4-7, 3 R, 1 3B, 1 RBI, 1 SO

Did Well: Lance Niekro.  He didn't get many chances to start the week, but got a pinch hit on Tuesday and then played the entire game on Wednesday, and started to light things up.  No home runs yet from the power hitter, but a triple bodes well.

Did not so well: Rich Aurilia.  He saved his week with a home run on a 3-4 day on Wednesday, but before then had been hitless in 7 at-bats, and wasn't doing much to help his cause.

The battle so far: This race got a big change as Ryan Klesko is out for at least a week.  Klesko strained a side muscle during batting practice (while in the field) before Sunday's games.  Klesko went 2 for 3 with a double that day, but the injury brings up serious durability questions.  As the most likely guy to displace Aurilia, it allowed a slow week by Aurilia to probably not hurt his playing time so much.  However, Niekro should still be watched.

 

Position: 5th Starter
The Contenders:
Russ Ortiz – 2.1 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO
Jonathan Sanchez – 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
Tim Lincecum – 2.0 IP, 4 H, 3 R, 3 ER, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1 W
Brad Hennessey – 2.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO
Kevin Correia – 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1 S

Did well: Russ Ortiz.  Ortiz's second outing of the spring wasn't nearly as good, as walks reared their ugly head, but he didn't give up a hit.  For a fifth starter, the occasional walks and not being hit often is good.

Did not so well: Tim Lincecum.  Sure, it was his first time really facing major league hitters, and he was coming off the flu, but he was hit hard, which can happen with a straight fastball.  Sanchez's first outing was also poor.

The battle so far: At this point, it's really Ortiz's race to lose.  Lincecum and Sanchez do need more work in the minors, and Ortiz has been as good as anyone in camp pitching wise.  Correia's two outings hint at his becoming a reliever more than a starter, and Hennessey doesn't look like he's in the same class as the rest of this group.

 

Position: Backing Up Bonds
The Contenders:
Ryan Klesko – 2-3, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI
Mark Sweeney – 2-9, 1 R, 2 2B, 1 RBI, 3 SO
Todd Linden – 5-10, 5 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 SO

Did well: Todd Linden.  He overcame an 0 for 3 performance on Monday to bat .500 over the first half of the week, and remains a spectacular performer, particularly in being on base and scoring runs.

Did not so well: Klesko.  Klesko's injury drops his ability to perform significantly, and the resultant durability issues may affect his chances of getting significant outfield time.

The battle so far: All Linden, honestly.  It's to the point where it's not so unlikely that Linden may force his way into regular at-bats elsewhere, therefore defaulting this job elsewhere.  Klesko has the best power, but Sweeney put together some decent at bats earlier in the week despite cooling later.

 

Position: Closer
The Contenders:
Armando Benitez – DNP
Brian Wilson – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO
Billy Sadler – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR, 1 W, 1 Hld

Did well: Brian Wilson.  Wilson got himself in some trouble in earlier spring outings, but had an uneventful one this week.

Did not so well: Armando Benitez, who simply didn't do anything thanks to flu and other factors.

The battle so far: There's not much to say until Benitez can return from injury.  Sadler bounced back nicely from a bad outing, but he's still an emergency option, if that.

 

Positions: Utility Guys (Up to 3 spots)
The Contenders:
Todd Linden – 5-10, 5 R, 1 2B, 2 RBI, 2 SO
Kevin Frandsen – 6-9, 1 R, 1 HR, 5 RBI, 1 SO, 1 E
Jason Ellison – 7-8, 4 R, 1 2B, 3 RBI, 1 BB, 2 SB, 1 CS, 1 PO
Fred Lewis – 3-12, 1 R, 1 2B, 5 RBI, 3 SO

Did Well: Jason Ellison.  As good as Linden has been, Ellison continues to be hot ever since being demoted to Fresno last summer.  At one point, the speedy Ellison had been on base in 10 consecutive plate appearances.

Did not so well: Fred Lewis.  While hardly bad, he's not at the pace of his competitors.

The battle so far: Perhaps the best competition in the spring.  Linden has been adding to his versatility by playing center, putting pressure on Ellison.  Ellison has responded with an all-around offensive assault, except for power.  And Frandsen continues to play well, although as the infielder, he's all but guaranteed a spot.

 

Position: Bullpen Non-Closers (4 spots)
The Contenders:
Armando Benitez – DNP
Brian Wilson – 1.0 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 0 SO
Billy Sadler – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO, 1 HR, 1 W, 1 Hld
Kevin Correia – 3.0 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1 S
Brad Hennessey – 2.1 IP, 4 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO
Russ Ortiz – 2.1 IP, 0 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB, 1 SO
Jonathan Sanchez – 1.0 IP, 3 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
Scott Munter – 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
Jack Taschner – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 3 SO, 1 HR, 1 S
Erick Threets – 0.0 IP, 1 H, 3 R, 1 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO
Pat Misch – 1.2 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1 Hld

Did well: Pat Misch and Scott Munter.  Misch's spring debut was effective.  Meanwhile, Munter bounced back from a poor outing to get some ground balls and keep goose eggs on the scoreboard.

Did not so well: Benitez and Erick Threets.  Benitez not playing really will affect him in a crowded, if not overburdened with raw talent, bullpen.  But Threets had an awful inning in his return from shoulder surgery not getting an out in a bad, bad inning for the Giants.

The battle so far: This is a crowded field which will not thin much right away, and the guys most likely to get thinned are performining better than the others.  Sadler and Threets will have to step it up to stay in this competition, and the Giants need Munter and Taschner to bounce back.

 

Position: Fresno's Outfield
The Contenders:
Fred Lewis – 3-12, 1 R, 1 2B, 5 RBI, 3 SO
Nate Schierholtz – 5-7, 3 R, 3 2B, 1 3B, 2 RBI, 1 SO
Dan Ortmeier – 0-5, 1 R, 2 BB
Eddy Martinez-Esteve – DNP, Sent to Minor League Camp
Clay Timpner – 2-3, 1 RBI

Did well: Nate Schierholtz has been red-hot in limited at-bats.  Schierholtz has been hitting against LHP (including a 2-3 day with a triple), and impressively had 4 extra base hits out of five total hits this week.

Did not so well: Ortmeier hasn't picked up a hit, although he's been playing very irregularly.  However he isn't showing that he's really ready for Triple-A again after a horrible year last year.

The battle so far: Schierholtz is the only one looking like he really belongs.  Truthfully, he's looking more like he's fighting for a spot on the major league roster.  EME's early dismissal may not mean he's out of this race, as he was never a contender for a major league roster spot, and if he does well in the minor league camp, that may do better for him than a poor showing in big league camp.


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