SAN FRANCISCO -- After more than six weeks in the desert the Giants returned to their chilly home park on Thursday, and manager Bruce Bochy wasn't ready to take some of the mystery out of heated spring races.
Bochy said he knows who his fifth starter is, but he won't publicly announce it until Friday. Asked about the situation, general manager Bobby Evans offered only that "we're in the same camp" on who that player is.
In the outfield, it appears Chris Marrero is a near-lock to make the roster after an eight-homer spring, but again, the Giants aren't ready to announce anything. Marrero gets another chance to prove himself Thursday. He's facing a lefty starter, which would be his role, and he's playing left field at AT&T Park for the first time. Is Bochy more interested in the defense or the at-bats against a lefty?
"Both," he said. "I want to take a look at Marrero in left field and see his at-bats. It's not so much the results, but just to see him here on this stage and in this ballpark."
Bochy was behind the cage when Marrero took BP, and while it is only BP, he put on a Madison Bumgarner-like show.
Bochy also hopes to get Jae-Gyun Hwang into left field one of the next two nights. Hwang is headed for Triple-A when this series is over, where he'll play first, third and left. "If he continues (hitting like this) down in Sacramento, with that bat, you've got to find a spot for him," Bochy said.
Sense a theme here? Somebody who hits from the right side is going to get a lot of time this year, and while Mac Williamson and Michael Morse are hurt, the two newcomers have a chance to make a statement. Justin Ruggiano is still in the mix, too, although it sounds like he's headed for Triple-A to get 50 or so at-bats to strengthen his shoulder.
--- Will Smith had Tommy John surgery in Los Angeles yesterday. The procedure went without surprises, and the initial read from doctors is that Smith should be back in the big leagues next May. This far out, it's hard to be exact, though.
--- Eduardo Nuñez said his shoulder feels great after a couple of late-camp cortisone shots and he'll start at third the next two nights. Nuñez will play four or five innings at shortstop on Saturday. If Kelby Tomlinson is optioned, Nuñez would be the backup to Brandon Crawford, along with starting at third.
--- Jimmy Rollins was given the option of coming up here for this series and finishing his spring in Oakland, near his home. Rollins was told he would not make the team. He went back to the Tampa area, however, and he won't play in this series.
--- Tyler Beede was out on the field early taking photos and soaking it in. Beede hasn't been to AT&T Park since shooting a cameo for "Silicon Valley." The Giants will start him Saturday, with the idea that it should knock some nerves off for his eventual debut. Beede will be joined by a bunch of minor leaguers, including Christian Arroyo, Ryder Jones, Reyes Moronta, Kyle Crick and Austin Slater. Steven Duggar would have been here, but he has a flexor injury and will miss the start of the season.
--- Brandon Belt will hit second at the start of the year, Bochy said. Belt walked into the park with Santiago Casilla, which threw everyone off in the hallway leading up to the clubhouse. Casilla eventually kept going, all the way to the visitor's clubhouse. I talked to him briefly, and he said that it'll be a weird series for him. Casilla will pitch an inning Friday night. He deserves a big ovation.
--- Finally, as part of our rebranding, my Twitter account has changed. It's still the same account, just a new name. The tweets about reliever at-bats are not going anywhere.
Matt Cain entered spring training competing with Ty Blach for the fifth starter spot.
On Thursday morning, Giants GM Bobby Evans provided an update on the position battle.
"Blach put up a good spring for himself, and it does make the decision harder," Evans said on KNBR 680. "We'll process it today with the coaching staff and Boch and I, and we'll make a final call."
Back in early February, Evans said: "“In a perfect world, Matt Cain would be Matt Cain and he would take that spot."
Over seven games (six starts) this spring, Cain went 0-1 with a 7.82 ERA.
Blach went 1-1 with a 4.43 ERA over seven appearances (two starts).
Cain is making nearly $21 million this season in what is the final guaranteed year of the 6-year, $127.5 million deal he signed in April 2012.
"Again, with the track record that Matt Cain's had overall, it would seem easy," Evans said. "But yet, the last couple years have been so rough and we've had the injuries and the hard contact against him.
"But he did finish strong with the Cubbies (Cubs) and I think it does give him an edge as we close out this decision."