Giants' roster gradually taking shape
Frandsen, Guzman sent down; Sandoval could be backup catcher
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The image of the Giants' anticipated Opening Day roster grew clearer Tuesday.Not only did they officially demote two players and unofficialy trim two more, but general manager Brian Sabean and manager Bruce Bochy also shared most of their plans for finalizing the 25-man squad.
• The possibility that third baseman Pablo Sandoval will double as No. 2 catcher, nullifying the Giants' earlier intent to employ a full-time backup.• The club's inclination to begin the season with 12 pitchers rather than 11. • A re-emphasized need for a second left-handed reliever -- namely, Alex Hinshaw -- and a long reliever, as well as the apparent ascent of Rule 5 Draft choice Luis Perdomo to the Majors. • The likelihood that both outfielder Andres Torres and infielder-outfielder Eugenio Velez will make the club, ending previous speculation that they were competing with each other. "The beauty is, we still have time to look at it," said Sabean, who doesn't anticipate making any trades. The Giants finish their Cactus League schedule Wednesday but play four exhibition games in the Bay Area before their April 7 home and season opener against Milwaukee. Time ran out for Frandsen, who changed into street clothes and left the Giants' training complex shortly after Bochy informed him of his fate Tuesday morning. Frandsen played respectably, batting .274 and committing just one error, but Burriss owns a .357 average with four stolen bases in six tries.
"Burriss won the job outright. I think we all know that," Sabean stated flatly.Said Burriss, 24, "It's a good feeling to know that a lot of your work has paid off." Popular with fans, teammates and management alike, Frandsen likely will move around the infield for Triple-A Fresno. It had been anticipated that he might remain with the Giants as a reserve if Burriss wins the second base job. But the presence of veteran utilitymen Rich Aurilia and Juan Uribe crowded out Frandsen, 26, who missed most of last season with an injured left achilles that robbed him of key at-bats, in the Giants' view. "Believe me, we all as a group agonized and fought hard to find a way that he could be on the team," Sabean said. The Giants felt less urgency regarding Guzman, despite his .412 average, five home runs, team-high .922 slugging percentage and 15 RBIs, tied with Uribe for the club lead. They and he know that he must find a position that he can play adequately. It's likely to be first base with Fresno. "I'll keep working hard and wait for my chance," said Guzman, 24. The Giants' most intriguing decision featured Sandoval, who went 2-for-5 and drove in three runs in Tuesday's 10-3 exhibition victory over the Texas Rangers. Making him the No. 2 catcher would create a spot for another pitcher or position player. But it also could distract him from playing third or expose him to possible injury. "Is there a risk? Yeah," Bochy said. "But Sandoval did it last year." The Giants also have four scheduled off-days in April, lightening their early load. "We're not going to ask him to [catch] that much," Sabean said. "We know what we have in Pablo and we know we can't overtax him." Opening the season with two catchers would necessitate sending Steve Holm, who hit .262 in 49 games with the Giants last year, to Triple-A. The Giants have several options for finalizing their pitching staff, but Brandon Medders (1.46 ERA) and Justin Miller (0.00) probably aren't among them. Bochy told the pair of non-roster right-handers that they'd accompany the Giants to San Francisco for their Bay Area exhibitions, but almost surely would be reassigned to the Minors afterward. "I told them the way it looks now, they're most likely not on the club, but with the job they've done we wanted to continue to carry them, look at them and reward them for how they have done this spring," Bochy said. Subtracting Medders and Miller virtually assured Perdomo, 24, of a spot in the bullpen. The Giants thus avoid the impossible tasks of trying to sneak Perdomo through waivers before sending him to the Minors or engineering a trade with St. Louis, his previous team, to keep him in the organization.
"There's no question that if he went on waivers, somebody would take him," Bochy said of Perdomo.Bochy noted that keeping a second left-hander in the bullpen "would be important for this club." That bodes well for Hinshaw, despite his 5.23 ERA and .302 opponents' batting average in 11 games. The Giants also might make room for a long reliever, particularly if they use a 12-man staff. "Right now we're still open-minded on that," Bochy said. Though Bochy mentioned Medders, Miller, Ramon Ortiz and Keiichi Yabu as possibilities, the most logical choice could be rookie right-hander Joe Martinez, last year's Eastern League leader in ERA with Double-A Connecticut. Conveniently, Martinez is on the 40-man roster, so the Giants wouldn't have to clear a spot to keep him, as they would have to do with the other four. Besides, Bochy said, the long-relief role is a beneficial way to develop young pitchers.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.