The San Francisco Giants made a no-risk move in late February by bringing in veteran outfielder Tyler Colvin on a minor-league deal while giving him a shot to make their team. Though Colvin wasn’t guaranteed a roster spot, it was assumed by many that he would end up being part of the big-league bench as a fifth outfielder. Partly due to injuries, however, Colvin has really struggled this spring, and it’s difficult to know his status at this point.
The 28-year-old Colvin came into Tuesday night’s game, his eighth of the spring, hitting .143 with three RBI. While these numbers are a bit off-putting, they apparently are not enough to have eliminated Colvin from Opening Day roster contention for manager Bruce Bochy, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Henry Schulman:
Tyler Colvin hits a two-run homer. Bochy told me today he is still in the running for a job, even if back issues held him back. #sfgiants
— Henry Schulman (@hankschulman) March 19, 2014
Colvin helped himself out a bit on Tuesday by hitting a home run and coming close to another that ended up going foul. With that said, he ended up going 1-for-5, which drops his spring average down to .158 (3-for-19). In addition, Colvin still seems to be feeling the effects of leg and back injuries, as he has been limited to designated hitter duties since returning on March 15.
That’s a sharp contrast in comparison to Juan Perez, the 27-year-old organizational product who has been fantastic this spring after ending last season on a tear. Perez’s average is well above .300, which is rather impressive considering that he’s received the most at-bats of any Giant this spring. Perez is a spectacular fielder who can play all three positions in the outfield, and while Colvin is by no means a terrible defender, it’s safe to say that Perez has a definite edge over him in the field.
In previous years, Colvin’s status as a left-handed hitter would have made him a very attractive option for their bench. Now, though, the Giants have four players in their starting lineup (potentially five if Marco Scutaro’s injury issues sideline him) that are either switch of left-handed hitters. Switch hitters Hector Sanchez and Ehire Adrianza and lefty Gregor Blanco figure to be part of the bench as well, so Colvin being left-handed no longer gives him any real advantage over the righthanded-hitting Perez.
Perhaps the Giants really want someone who has proven themselves in the majors for an extended period, as Colvin did by hitting 20 homers with a .254 average for the Chicago Cubs in 2010, and again by enjoying a career year in 2012 with the Colorado Rockies which saw him hit .290 with 18 home runs. However, as things stand now, it may be more sensible for the Giants to look at the fact that Colvin struggled through all of last season and is still dealing with the injuries that caused that inconsistency. When you factor in that Perez is younger, more durable, a better fielder, and has actually been much better at the plate this spring, it seems rather far-fetched that the Giants would actually decide to keep Colvin over him.