A few surprises on Giants' list of non-roster invitees

A few surprises on Giants' list of non-roster invitees
January 13, 2014, 1:45 pm
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Dan Runzler appeared in 89 games for the Giants from 2009-2012, amassing a 4-2 record with a 3.86 ERA. He did not pitch for the club in 2013. (AP)

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SAN FRANCISCO – The Giants will issue 26 lockers to non-roster invitees when major league spring training begins Feb. 14 at Scottsdale Stadium, and there were a couple of surprises when the club released the full list on Monday.

It wasn’t top pitching prospect Kyle Crick or top hitting prospect Mac Williamson, who were expected to be in big league camp for the first time.

A bigger surprise might have been left-hander Dan Runzler, who became a minor league free agent after last season and wasn’t called up in September even though he was on the 40-man roster. It appeared Runzler and the Giants were all but divorced.

The club re-signed Runzler to a minor league contract, though. They also agreed to minor league deals with right-hander Kameron Loe, a nine-year major league veteran, and right-hander Rafael Dolis, who saw scant action with the Chicago Cubs over each of the past three seasons.

The club also signed a minor league deal with infielder Brandon Hicks, who last played in the majors with the A’s in 2012.

The rest of the list was comprised of the expected minor league names not on the 40-man roster; all players already on the roster, such as prospects Angel Villalona and Edwin Escobar, automatically receive an invite to big league camp.

The best story among the 26 non-roster players belongs to outfielder Mark Minicozzi, who will turn 31 just three days before pitchers and catchers report.

As I wrote for Baseball America last year, Minicozzi was a 17th-rounder in 2005 whom the Giants released three years later following major back, elbow and wrist surgeries. Minicozzi turned to independent ball, bouncing between three leagues.

On a whim in 2012, Minicozzi noticed that the Giants’ Double-A Richmond club was playing at Reading, Pa., not far from his home. So he drove to the game, waved from the stands, got the attention of his old manager, Dave Machemer, and thrust some stat printouts into his hand. The next day Machemer let Minicozzi take some early hitting with the team, and after just two or three swings, he and hitting coach Ken Joyce exchanged looks. A few weeks later, Minicozzi was playing pro ball again, and hitting in the middle of Machemer’s order. Last year, he hit a homer when the Giants called him up from minor league camp for the day. And he went on to hit .309/.400/.445 for Richmond.

This time, he gets a locker in the same room with Hunter Pence, Tim Lincecum, Matt Cain and all the others. And he’s definitely earned it.

Here’s the full list below:

Pitchers (16)

  • RHP Jason Berken
  • LHP Tyson Blach
  • RHP Clayton Blackburn
  • RHP Brett Bochy
  • RHP Jose Casilla
  • RHP Kyle Crick
  • RHP Rafael Dolis
  • RHP J.C. Gutierrez
  • RHP Chris Heston
  • RHP Derek Law
  • RHP Mitch Lively
  • RHP Kameron Loe
  • RHP Adam Reifer
  • RHP Sandy Rosario
  • LHP Dan Runzler
  • RHP Mason Tobin

Catchers (4)

  • Jeff Arnold
  • Guillermo Quiroz
  • Andrew Susac
  • Ben Turner

Infielders (4)

  • Chris Dominguez
  • Brandon Hicks
  • Mark Minicozzi
  • Joe Panik

Outfielders (2)

  • Javier Herrera
  • Mac Williamson

Giants pitchers and catchers are scheduled to report to the spring training complex in Scottsdale, Arizona on February 14. After physical examinations, pitchers and catchers will work out that afternoon. Position players report February 18 and the first full squad workout is slated for February 19.

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