Massive cut-down day sharpens spring decisions for Giants

Massive cut-down day sharpens spring decisions for Giants
March 15, 2013, 11:15 am
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Johnny Monell survived Friday's 20 cuts and remains a possibility to make the Opening Day roster as a backup catcher. (USA TODAY IMAGES)

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. –- Either the Giants are running low on big league meal money, or GM Brian Sabean feels it’s time to start boiling down the Opening Day roster.

In what probably ranks as the biggest cut-down day in history, the Giants optioned or reassigned 21 players to minor league camp on Friday.

Prospects like right-hander Heath Hembree and center fielder Gary Brown were the most recognizable names on the list, but they were expected to begin in Triple-A Fresno. Well, Brett Bochy’s name is pretty recognizable, too. (Yes, the manager had to send out his son. It was inevitable.)

The real intrigue can be found in some the names that survived the cut: outfielder Francisco Peguero and catcher Johnny Monell among them.

Infielder Kensuke Tanaka also made the cut, but he is no longer a candidate to make the big league club. Tanaka is staying in deference to his experience in Japan, and perhaps out of respect that he turned down a $3 million guarantee with the Nippon Ham Fighters to try to make the Giants roster. He has committed seven of the Giants’ 15 errors this spring.

Brock Bond and Nick Noonan, two other infielders who have shown some positives this spring, were not candidates to make the roster and were among Friday’s cuts.

I asked a Giants coach: “Have you ever seen 20 cuts in one day?”

He replied: “You ever seen 70 guys on 2 ½ fields?”

The Giants are down to 38 now -– including nine non-roster invitees. Here’s a breakdown of the open jobs and the candidates remaining in camp:

LONG RELIEVER: Chad Gaudin is the clear leader in this competition. Scott Proctor and Ramon Ramirez are the other non-roster invitees that remain. Jean Machi and Dan Runzler also remain, in addition to all of last year’s bullpen returnees. There could be a second vacancy if Jose Mijares’ elbow remains an issue.

BACKUP CATCHER: If Hector Sanchez’s shoulder forces him to begin the season on the DL, non-roster catcher Guillermo Quiroz has the most experience and is the most likely choice. But Monell remains, as does Jackson Williams.

FIFTH OUTFIELDER: The only non-roster candidate who remains is Cole Gillespie. It appears to be a two-man battle between Gillespie and Francisco Peguero.

BACKUP INFIELDER: A reminder, Joaquin Arias is on the club for sure. This is a second backup job. Tanaka and Wilson Valdez are the only non-roster guys who remain, but Tanaka won’t make the team. Unless the Giants look outside the organization, Valdez would appear to be the guy by default. Tony Abreu remains in big league camp but has played one game all spring. Brett Pill could’ve snagged this job and offered more right-handed power off the bench, if not positional flexibility. But he just had knee surgery Thursday and will be out three to six weeks.

***

The full list of cuts is below, but first, two reminders:

The rule has changed and now players who are optioned can come back to play in big league exhibitions. Chris Heston, for example, is still starting for the night split squad on Saturday. Also, just because a player was “optioned to Fresno” does not guarantee that’s where they will open the season (although it’s usually the case).

Reassigned to minor league camp: RHP Brett Bochy, RHP Boof Bonser, RHP Steve Edlefsen, RHP Heath Hembree, LHP Mike Kickham, RHP Mitch Lively, RHP Shane Loux, 1B Ricky Oropesa, 3B Adam Duvall, 2B Brock Bond, OF Gary Brown, C Tyler La Torre.

Optioned to Triple-A Fresno: SS Ehire Adrianza, INF Nick Noonan, OF Juan Perez, OF Roger Kieschnick, RHP Jake Dunning, RHP Chris Heston, RHP Dan Otero, RHP Sandy Rosario.

Optioned to Single-A San Jose: LHP Edwin “Esky” Escobar.

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