Giants position battles: Bullpen, utility infielder, fifth OF

Giants position battles: Bullpen, utility infielder, fifth OF
February 4, 2014, 9:30 pm
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George Kontos, Tony Abreu and Juan Perez will all be fighting hard to earn a spot on the Giants' 25-man roster. (USATI)

In 52 games last season George Kontos registered a 2-2 record and a 4.39 ERA. (USATI)

Tony Abreu appeared in 53 games last season. He hit .268 with two home runs and 14 RBI. (USATI)

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SAN FRANCISCO -- Hope springs eternal for every team in spring training, even the Chicago Cubs.

But for players on the roster bubble, or minor leaguers receiving one of those coveted big league lockers, spring training is about more than hope. It’s an opportunity that can’t be frittered away.

We’ll have all spring to examine the top position battles in Scottsdale, but for now, here are the spots up for grabs and the players who expect to vie for them:

RELIEF PITCHERS

The Giants have two openings in the bullpen, assuming Sergio Romo, Jeremy Affeldt, Santiago Casilla, Javier Lopez are healthy. It’s also extremely likely that Yusmeiro Petit has a place, since he’s out of minor league options, pitched so well in September and is best suited to serve as a long man.

The top candidates for those two open jobs:

- RHP George Kontos
- RHP Jake Dunning
- RHP Heath Hembree
- RHP Jean Machi
- RHP David Huff

The dark horses:

- RHP Erik Cordier
- RHP Derek Law

Other non-roster invites with big league time:

- RHP Kameron Loe
- RHP Jason Berken
- RHP Rafael Dolis,
- RHP Juan Gutierrez

BACKUP INFIELDER

Joaquin Arias signed a two-year contract and will be the primary backup at three infield spots. And if you need someone to make a throw to finish off a perfect game, he’s good for that, too. The other backup infield spot involves a roster logjam, since the top two candidates are out of options and could be lost on waivers if they don’t make the club.

The top candidates:

- 2B/SS Tony Abreu
- SS Ehire Adrianza

Dark horse:

IF Nick Noonan

Other non-roster invitees with big league time:

- SS Brandon Hicks

FIFTH OUTFIELDER

Bruce Bochy and Brian Sabean confirmed the club would carry a fifth outfielder, since Gregor Blanco will be a frequent late-inning defensive replacement for Mike Morse in left field. This one is the most clear-cut of the position battles, given Juan Perez’s strong winter league in the Dominican coming off an unbelievable defensive show in the big leagues. But other candidates might offer more in the way of a bat off the bench.

Top candidate:

- OF Juan Perez

Dark horse:

- OF Roger Kieschnick

Other invitees worth watching:

- OF Gary Brown
- OF Javier Herrera

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