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03/30/08 12:53 AM EST

Giants cut veterans Alfonzo, Kline

Roster spots likely to be filled by young relievers

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants jettisoned a pair of veterans on Saturday, optioning catcher Eliezer Alfonzo to Triple-A Fresno and designating left-hander Steve Kline for assignment in a move that will officially be announced Sunday.

The transactions clear the way for some fresh faces on the Giants' Opening Day roster. Steve Holm, a 28-year-old veteran of seven Minor League seasons who has never played above Double-A, will serve as the team's backup catcher this season. Kline's departure means that the Giants could conceivably find room in their bullpen for both right-hander Merkin Valdez and left-hander Erick Threets, who are out of Minor League options and surely would be claimed on waivers if the Giants tried to demote them again.

Dropping Kline and Alfonzo was not completely unexpected. Kline, 35, is coming off his worst season since his rookie year of 1997, having posted a 4.70 ERA and more walks than strikeouts last year. He also allowed left-handed batters to hit .318 off him. This spring, Kline owned a 5.40 ERA in 11 appearances and had yielded 17 hits in 11 2/3 innings.

Alfonzo, 29, began this spring hitless in his first 17 at-bats, and was hitting .091 (4-for-44) in 19 games despite winning Most Valuable Player honors in the Venezuelan Winter League by hitting 15 homers with 47 RBIs in 53 regular-season games for Caribes. He was the Giants' No. 1 catcher in the second half of the 2006 season after Mike Matheny was sidelined with post-concussion syndrome, but was never quite the same after injuring his left knee in a home-plate collision last June 8, which required surgery.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.