EXTRA BAGGS: Whiteside, Stewart, or none of the above?

March 30, 2012, 5:17 am
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SURPRISE, Ariz. Giants manager Bruce Bochy said he and GMBrian Sabean pretty much have the team picked, but there are a few unresolvedissues.

Backup catcher might be the most hotly debated issueremaining, and get this: It could involve young switch-hitter Hector Sanchez asBuster Poseys only backup.

Bochy said he and Sabean were still discussing whether tocarry two or three catchers something that will be difficult with theirstated intention to break with a 12-man pitching staff.

But either Chris Stewart or Eli Whiteside will make the clubas Poseys primary backup, right?

Well, I cant answer that question, said Bochy, his eyebrows raised. Werestill talking. I guess Im saying were staying open minded. I said this wouldbe a difficult decision, and theres a couple others right there with it.

This represents a fairly large shift in thinking. Allspring, Bochy framed the backup catcher situation as a competition betweenStewart and Whiteside. But Sanchez continued to keep himself in theconversation; the 22-year-old switch-hitter has a .405 average with a team-highfour home runs and 1.195 OPS this spring, following up on a huge season in theVenezuelan winter league.

His presence would give the Giants a bat off the bench andthe ability to take Posey out early, or pinch-run for him, without the fear ofhaving just one other catcher on the roster.

The Giants had planned for Sanchez to be the everydaystarter at Triple-A Fresno, where he could work on his receiving skills.

We are still debating that. Ill say that, said Bochy,asked about Sanchez. Its a decision that will go down to the wire. Two orthree, and that will obviously affect another player.

Youre right, Hector has really played great ball and hescaught well. Hes done a good job blocking and receiving. Hes a nice player.

Bochy received glowing reports on Brian Wilson, who threw 20pitches against the Diamondbacks Triple-A team in minor league camp onThursday.

You know what? Hes ready, said Bochy, after Wilson walkedone and struck out two. Hell go back-to-back days, check that off and hellbe ready. We like where hes at in terms of stuff, velocity. Hes good to go.

Bochy said hed check to see how Wilson feels Fridaymorning, but the current plan was to pitch an inning in the Cactus Leagueexhibition against the San Diego Padres at Peoria, Ariz.

The Giants changed the schedule for Tim Lincecum. Instead ofthrowing in minor league camp Sunday for his final tuneup before the April 6opener, he will start the Cactus League finale against the Milwaukee Brewers atMaryvale.

Lincecum will throw just four or five innings, Bochy said.

Bochy liked the at-bats he saw in Thursday nights 6-2victory over Texas at Surprise. He especially made note of Pablo Sandoval, whohad a hit in three at-bats against lefty Matt Harrison.

Pablo from the right side, hes much improved from earlierin the spring, Bochy said. He was really lunging earlier. Hes balanced now.Hes taking pitches where he had been getting himself out.

Freddy Sanchez is taking baby steps after Sundays cortisoneshot to kickstart his repaired right shoulder. He began playing catch againThursday and Bochy said he and trainers felt good about the session. Still notimetable to begin taking infield practice again and move toward playing secondbase, though.

Sanchez will start the season on the disabled list,obviously.

As it stands now, theres an excellent chance that both MikeFontenot and Ryan Theriot will be on the opening-day roster.

Well know for sure in a few hours. If the Giants want tocut either player, theyll have to do it by Friday. Otherwise, their entiresalary (1.25 million for Theriot, 1.05 million for Fontenot) will becomeguaranteed. Theyre only guaranteed a quarter of their salary if they are cutbefore the deadline.

Theriot said he hadnt heard anything.

Youll probably know before I do, he said.

The same probably wont be true of Matt Cains extension, ifit happens. But hey, Ill try my best.

In case you missed it, the Miami Marlins released Aaron Rowand on Thursday. That's not a shock, since he was hitting.133 (6 for 45) this spring as a non-roster guy.Rowand told the Miami Herald that he's OK with calling it a career if this is the end. And it almost certainly is."I'll either go somewhere else if another team needs an outfielder or, if not, probably take it to the house, call it a career," Rowand said. "Not everybody gets to decide when they're going to hang 'em up. I feel like I have some left. But, if the opportunity doesn't present itself, then I'm happy with the things I've accomplished and looking forward to the next chapter."
The Giants are paying Rowand's 12 million salary this season -- the last year of his five-year, 60 million contract. Even if he made the Marlins roster, the Giants would've had to pay Rowand all but the major league minimum salary (480,000).