Position Battle Update - March 29th

The Cactus League is over, and the team is back in San Francisco. The fifth starter battle is over, but a lot of unanswered questions remain. Just who will make up this bullpen, and might a surprise or two be in store for the contenders?

Position: First Base
The Contenders:
Rich Aurilia – DNP
Ryan Klesko – 2-6, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO
Mark Sweeney – 2-8, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SO
Lance Niekro – 4-9, 3 R, 1 2B, 1 HR, 3 RBI, 1 SO

Did Well: Lance Niekro. When Klesko was signed, some thought Niekro was an afterthought. Now Niekro has played himself into serious talks of him being kept over the veteran Sweeney.

Did not so well: Rich Aurilia. Injury sapped his playing time, just he was looking like the sure winner.

The battle so far: Aurilia's injury and Lance Niekro's improvement have made this battle more interesting of late. Aurilia remains the likely regular first baseman, but Klesko and Nierko will make the decisions about playing time hard. Sweeney plays hard, but many are talking about him like his time has come and gone.

Position: 5th Starter
The Contenders:
Russ Ortiz – DNP
Jonathan Sanchez –3.1 IP, 5 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 2 BB
Tim Lincecum – DNP; Optioned to Fresno
Brad Hennessey – 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
Kevin Correia – 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR

Did well: Brad Hennessey. With the main contenders taking some breaks, no one started but Hennessey looked good in his appearances.

Did not so well: Jonathan Sanchez. Forget starting, Sanchez has made a bullpen job with the big league team unlikely.

The battle so far: Over. Russ Ortiz was officially named the 5th starter on Wednesday, and he earned the job. This one was really over a couple of weeks ago.

Position: Backing Up Bonds
The Contenders:
Ryan Klesko – 2-6, 2 R, 1 2B, 1 RBI, 1 BB, 1 SO
Mark Sweeney – 2-8, 2 R, 2 BB, 2 SO
Todd Linden – 3-11, 1 R, 4 RBI, 1 SO

Did well: Ryan Klesko. Klesko still gets limited time, but does well when he's in. That may not bode well for a full-time job if he looks like a good part-time player.

Did not so well: Todd Linden. Linden had a 3 for 4, but that only came after a poor 0 for 5 that brought down his week.

The battle so far: This one may never be officially won by anyone, but it's likely Linden's with Klesko earning time as well. Sweeney isn't hitting enough to compete.

Position: Closer
The Contenders:
Armando Benitez – 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1 S
Brian Wilson – 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO
Billy Sadler – DNP; Optioned to Fresno

Did well: Armando Benitez. Another scoreless outing and a save. Maybe he is back?

Did not so well: Brian Wilson. Whoops. He was once a lock for a bullpen job one way or another, but the way he's being talked about this spring, he may be headed back to Fresno.

The battle so far: If Armando is not traded, he's the closer. And now, it looks unlikely the Giants will trade him with an entire bullpen that has been performing poorly.

Positions: Utility Guys (Up to 3 spots)
The Contenders:
Todd Linden – 3-11, 1 R, 4 RBI, 1 SO
Kevin Frandsen – 4-12, 1 R, 1 BB, 1 SO
Jason Ellison – 2-7, 2 SO
Fred Lewis – DNP; Optioned to Fresno

Did Well: Kevin Frandsen. Frandsen is ready to roll this year in the major leagues.

Did not so well: Jason Ellison. All memories of the hot spring have all but ended. He is still in play for a roster spot, but it's more on his tools than his overall performance.

The battle so far: We might want to put Sweeney here, because his spot may be sacrificed to one of the three guys on here.

Position: Bullpen Non-Closers (4 spots)
The Contenders:
Armando Benitez – 1.1 IP, 0 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 2 SO, 1 S
Brian Wilson – 1.1 IP, 3 H, 5 R, 5 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO
Billy Sadler – DNP; Optioned to Fresno
Brad Hennessey – 2.0 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO
Kevin Correia – 1.2 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR
Jonathan Sanchez –5.2 IP, 6 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 3 BB
Scott Munter – 0.2 IP, 1 H, 0 R, 0 BB, 1 SO, 1 S
Jack Taschner – 2.0 IP, 3 H, 1 R, 1 ER, 1 BB, 2 SO
Erick Threets – DNP; Optioned to Fresno
Pat Misch – DNP; Optioned to Fresno
Sun-Woo Kim – 0.2 IP, 7 H, 8 R, 8 ER, 2 BB, 0 SO, 1 HR
Scott Atchison – 2.0 IP, 2 H, 2 R, 2 ER, 1 BB, 1 SO, 1 HR

Did well: Scott Munter. He's teetering on the verge, but he came in and vultured a save from Wilson. But he did let 2 runners he inherited come in.

Did not so well: Sun-Woo Kim. Just when the door of opportunity was opened, Kim slammed it shut in his own face.

The battle so far: Ugly, ugly, ugly. The Giants need to hope the bullpen doesn't perform like this in the regular season. Atchinson has a shot of grabbing one of these spots, as a welcome surprise. Hennessey and Correia have been shaky, but have probably locked up spots. Brian Wilson has been the most disappointing, and may have lost his spot, once thought to be a lock.


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