Readdressing San Francisco Giants’ Bench Problem Midway Through Camp
The San Francisco Giants began Spring Training with relative uncertainty surrounding the final two spots on their bench. The uneasiness that previously consumed the eventual 25-man roster has become less of an issue through the progression of camp. San Francisco remains a relatively depth-riddled ball club, although a few potentially concrete solutions have emerged with solid performances this spring.
Probable fifth outfielder Juan Perez was the preseason favorite to land a role with the big-league team before camp and hasn’t disappointed. Perez has posted a solid .316 batting average with 12 hits, including six doubles and a home run, in 38 official at-bats. His .962 OPS ranks as the fourth-best figure on the team among players who have received at least 24 at-bats.
Perez was lackadaisical at the dish in 2013, registering a moderate .302 on-base percentage with six extra-base hits in 89 at-bats. His outstanding outfield range was the main reason why he stood a chance to make the team before camp. Now, it appears as though Perez has potential to develop into an adequate complementary hitter at the bottom of the Giants’ depth chart. He doesn’t boast enormous pop, but could be on the verge of being able to manage decent numbers at the plate.
The Giants face other uncertainties aside from their glaring need for a fifth outfielder, which became an issue when general manager Brian Sabean opted to sign slugger Michael Morse, who is mostly negligent in terms of outfield range. Former NLCS MVP Marco Scutaro remains on the shelf with nagging lower-back pain, which could potentially lead to him beginning the season on the disabled list. The Giants remain hopeful that Scutaro will be able to rack up roughly 30 at-bats in camp, nonetheless.
Scutaro’s lingering back problem has granted opportunity for certain non-roster invitees, namely Brandon Hicks, who has been fantastic in Spring Training. Hicks owns a whopping 1.158 OPS with seven extra-base hits and six RBIs in 27 at-bats during exhibition action. His microscopic .133 batting average in parts of three big-league seasons makes him a long-shot, but he continues to impress coaches despite being unable to sustain success.
Electric shortstop Ehire Adrianza is also a legitimate possibility to make the team, especially considering that he’s run out of minor-league options. Adrianza has been mostly impressive this spring, showcasing some power with two home runs. He could possibly start the season as the Giants’ everyday second baseman if Scutaro is unable to play, but has played just one game at that position in eight seasons of pro ball.
Regardless of whether Scutaro is healthy enough to play, the Giants will at least be reassured that they possess a couple of solid backup options. San Francisco’s bench isn’t beaming with talent, but it might just be good enough to help fill a few injury voids this season.