SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The Giants further boiled down competition for their last bench and bullpen spots Friday morning, calling right-hander Ramon Ramirez and infielder Wilson Valdez into the manager’s office to inform them of their release.
In the case of that infield spots, they’re dealing with a dry pan now. The only guy left is Tony Abreu, who has played in just one spring game because of a knee issue and is expected to open the season on the disabled list.
But minor leaguer Nick Noonan is coming back to big league camp, and barring an acquisition via trade or the waiver wire, he’d appear to be the frontrunner for that job now, vice president Bobby Evans said.
“We’ll continue to get a look at him,” Evans said of Noonan, who was optioned to Triple-A Fresno on March 15. “It does bode well for him if Abreu can’t get healthy.”
Valdez, quite obviously, was scratched from Friday’s exhibition lineup. Noonan will start at third base and Joe Panik also will come up for the day from minor league camp to play second base.
Noonan hit just .186/.222/.326 in 18 games but he struck out just once in 43 at-bats and had much better plate appearances as he went along. He also played the best defense of any of the middle infield candidates, and is serviceable at third, short and second base. A former supplemental first-round pick out of a San Diego-area high school in 2007, Noonan drifted off the prospect track but had a resurgent season for Triple-A Fresno last year.
The Giants continue to scan the outside world for other infielders and Evans described a “constant flow” of names on the waiver wire.
“Anything is possible, but nothing has percolated to the top of the at list, other than our internal options,” Evans said.
Ramirez was a key bullpen member of the 2010 club that rallied down the stretch to win the NL West and stormed off with a World Series trophy. But he had a rough season with the New York Mets last year and was inconsistent this spring. Chad Gaudin (who has an April 1 opt-out date) is almost a lock at this point to win the last bullpen spot. Scott Proctor remains in camp as well, but his opt-out date isn't until July 1.
Evans expected that Ramirez would garner some interest, but if he didn’t get a better opportunity, the Giants would remain keen on re-signing him to pitch at Triple-A Fresno.
Valdez, 34, hit .194 in 18 games and played unremarkable defense.
“It’s just respect for a veteran player who wasn’t going to make our club,” Evans said. “Let him go out and find another opportunity.”
In other news, left-hander Jose Mijares (elbow impingement) will throw an inning in a minor league game Friday morning. Also, center fielder Andres Torres, who left Thursday night’s game with a foot injury, said he was fine and just needed to switch to a more comfortable shoe. Second baseman Marco Scutaro, a scratch because of back stiffness Thursday, also noted improvement.
And Angel Pagan is back, hitting leadoff in Friday’s lineup. He gave a lengthy interview about the impact he hopes the World Baseball Classic will have on rallying baseball in Puerto Rico. Look for that story a little later today.