Position Battle Update - March 25th

Not much has changed: Ortiz as a pleasant surprise and almost certain the fifth starter, Linden as continued promise fulfilled, and Benitez is emphatic about being the closer on Opening Day. The rest is not quite concrete in the last days of spring training.

The Spot: First Base
The Contenders:
Rich Aurilia: DNP
Ryan Klesko: 2-6
Mark Sweeney: 2-7, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 E
Lance Niekro: 0-2

Did well: Ryan Klesko and Mark Sweeney are in while Rich Aurilia is out. Klesko is making contact and hitting the ball hard. Sweeney appeared as a pinch hitter in Saturday's game and provided all the offense the Giants would get with a two-run home run.

Did not do well: Lance Niekro has been quiet the last few days while Aurilia sat out with a groin strain. It has been a rough week for Aurilia with the injury following a minor traffic accident.

The battle so far: Klesko is considered at both first base and the outfield but has yet to play much in the outfield. Aurilia's starting spot at first is almost certain. Seeing Klesko get closer to his old stroke is encouraging for the Giants as they can have a mix-and-match infield, a must for a team that will need to rest a lot of guys.

 

The Spot: 5th Starter
The Contenders:
Russ Ortiz: DNP
Jonathan Sanchez: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
Tim Lincecum: DNP
Brad Hennessey: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
Kevin Correia: DNP

Did well: Jonathan Sanchez pitched better in one inning of work. Brad Hennessey is improving in relief appearances. 

The battle so far: Russ Ortiz cannot be stopped in this race despite Sanchez and Hennessey taking slow steps toward improvement.

 

The Spot: Backing Up Bonds
The Contenders:
Ryan Klesko: 2-6
Mark Sweeney: 2-7, 1 HR, 2 RBI, 1 R, 1 E
Todd Linden: 2-9, 2 SO

Did well: Todd Linden is getting the at-bats and starts in every outfield position and turning in some impressive numbers.

The battle so far: As long as Linden keeps it up this role is his.

 

The Spot: Closer
The Contenders:
Armando Benitez: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 SO
Brian Wilson: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 SO
Billy Sadler: DNP; Optioned to AAA Fresno

Did well: Armando Benitez pitched in the ninth inning Saturday trailing the Cubs, back in his familiar ninth inning role. Brian Wilson has been better of late too.

Did not do well: Billy Sadler has not done much to convince the Giants to give him a shot at closer and he has not been used in a few days.

The battle so far: Benitez has come back to declare he is the closer for this ballclub. Trade rumors and auditions for shaky replacements have not deterred him on his quest.

 

The Spot: Utility Guys (Up to 3 spots)
The Contenders:
Todd Linden: 2-9, 2 SO
Kevin Frandsen: 3-9, 1 3B, 2 R, 1 SO
Jason Ellison: 1-5, 1 2B
Fred Lewis: DNP; Optioned to AAA Fresno

Did well: Kevin Frandsen is getting starts with the injuries to Aurilia and Ray Durham depleting the infield. Frandsen is also playing better defense, making the pivot on double plays at second very well. His defense has been suspect since he came up to San Francisco last season so the improvement makes him even more likely to stick with the major league club.

Did not do well: Jason Ellison still has the high overall spring numbers but did not play much over the weekend.

The battle so far: Linden looks like a lock as a backup and Frandsen is more than likely in as the infield reserve, so the final possible utility spot comes down to Ellison and Lewis: two players who have seen little action the last few days.

The Spot: Bullpen Non-Closers (4 Spots)
The Contenders:
Brian Wilson: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 SO
Armando Benitez: 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 SO
Kevin Correia: DNP
Brad Hennessey: 2.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
Billy Sadler: DNP; Optioned to AAA Fresno
Russ Ortiz: DNP
Jonathan Sanchez: 1.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO
Scott Munter: 1.0 IP, 2 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR
Jack Taschner: DNP
Erick Threets: DNP; Optioned to AAA Fresno
Pat Misch: DNP; Optioned to AAA Fresno
Sun Woo Kim: DNP

Did well: Wilson, Sanchez, and Hennessey are needed in the bullpen regardless of the role and all three improved in the last few games. Benitez is continually improving but is the closer now and more than likely the closer come Opening Day.

Did not do well: Scott Munter actually did not pitch poorly but his progress is not overwhelmingly positive. With the number of pitchers still in consideration for a bullpen role and Munter nearing the end of his road with the Giants he does not have many chances left.

The battle so far: Sun Woo Kim entered the race just recently where before he was considered a starter in Fresno. Basically what this competition comes down to in the last days of spring training are innings pitched; decisions are close to becoming final and a few good performances to finish camp could make it.



Chris has been a Giants fan since her days in utero. She loves baseball and writes about whatever she can get her hands on…even the Athletics. She's a Bay Area gal through and through. This is her 24th season of fandom. Love/hate mail can be sent to seasond_salt@yahoo.com, where the love mail gets top priority and the hate mail gets used for kindling.

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