Take a look around the league at how some former San Francisco Giants are doing while competing for jobs.
Spring Training is in full swing, and the San Francisco Giants are trying to figure out what they have in their camp. Around baseball, other teams are trying to figure out what they have in former Giants’ players. A number of past Giants’ players moved during the offseason, and now find themselves in competition for a roster spot, or for a starting job. With a few weeks to go until final cuts have to be made, take a look at how some guys who used to wear orange and black are faring around the Cactus and Grapefruit Leagues.
In Pittsburgh Pirates’ camp, two former Giants’ are on major league deals and looking to break camp with starting jobs. After an emotional departure this past offseason, pitcher Ryan Vogelsong made a different return, signing a big league deal with the Pirates for his second stint in the Steel City, with a chance to earn a rotation slot. He’s appeared in two games so far, one as a reliever, and given up three runs on four hits (one home run) in five innings. First baseman Michael Morse, one of the most popular single-season Giants, went to the Marlins last offseason, then the Los Angeles Dodgers for a few days during the season before Pittsburgh became his destination. He’s performed well so far, collecting six hits (three doubles) and three runs batted in in 18 at-bats.
Over with the Miami Marlins, outfielder Justin Maxwell is looking to surprise everyone for the second straight year. After a strong spring in 2015, he cracked the opening day roster with the Giants, and performed admirably while filling in for injured starters. Now with the Marlins, and working with new hitting coach Barry Bonds, Maxwell has collected four hits in 14 at-bats, including a double and two home runs (one of which was a walk-off job). With the uncertainty of the Marlins’ roster, Maxwell could again find himself with a big league job on opening day.
The Chicago White Sox have a pair of former Giants’ who own a pair of World Series rings, both in big league camp on minor league deals. After a deal with the Seattle Mariners fell apart, 2014 postseason hero Travis Ishikawa went to the southside of the Windy City, and has collected five hits in 14 at-bats with the Sox. Catcher Hector Sanchez is competing with a large contingent of catchers for a big league job, and hasn’t gotten much playing time so far in the Cactus League, picking up a pair of hits and three RBI in eight at-bats.
On the other side of Chicago, the Cubs are also working with a pair of Giants in big league camp. Outfielder Juan Perez, who was yo-yoed back-and-forth in his three years in the major leagues, is competing for a backup outfield spot, but has a lot of competition with all the young talent the Cubs possess. In 20 at-bats, Perez has just three hits, one an RBI double. Jesus Guzman, who played 12 games for San Francisco in 2009, is back in the MLB after splitting 2015 in Venezuela and Japan. He has three hits in five at-bats, including a two-out, two-run home run in the top of the ninth to give the Cubs a lead.
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Looking up north at the Mariners, outfielder Norichika Aoki (who now prefers “Norichika” to “Nori Aoki“) had his option declined by the Giants after a highly successful, but extremely unlucky season, and went up to Seattle on another one-year deal, mostly for the coffee. He got off to a slow start, going zero for his first eight, but he now has five hits in his last 12 chances.
The Detroit Tigers also have a pair of former Giants in camp, in corner infielder Casey McGehee and outfielder Nate Schierholtz. McGehee, who has been playing a lot of first base, is slashing .278/.417/.500 with a home run in 10 games, and has struck out just once compared to five walks. Schierholtz, who also spent the 2015 season in Japan, is slugging .600 in seven games with a triple and a home run. With the Tigers’ lineup being so heavily right-handed, the lefty Schierholtz could have a chance as a bench player.
After being a hero against the Washington Nationals in the 2014 postseason, pitcher Yusmeiro Petit has a chance to be a hero for the Nationals this season. Competing as a swingman again, Petit has made two appearances, both out of the bullpen, and given up one run on three hits in five innings. In familiar fashion, Petit has struck out five without allowing a walk.
The Arizona Diamondbacks have two former Giants in the Cactus League. Joaquin Arias, an insanely popular utility infielder during his time in San Francisco, has played well, going 6-for-16 with a couple of RBI. He also received a nice ovation from a Giants’ crowd when they took on the Diamondbacks. Cody Hall was picked up in an offseason trade, and is battling for a bullpen spot. He’s pitched in two games, giving up two hits and a run in two innings.
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Short-time Giants’ outfielder Jeff Francoeur is back where it all started for him, with the Atlanta Braves. With the overall uncertainty of the entire Atlanta roster, Francoeur could have a shot at an opening day job (maybe even as a reliever). Joining him is A.J. Pierzynski, who is still in the big leagues over a decade after his lone season with the Giants. Though one of the more unpopular Giants, Pierzynski is back in Atlanta for a second season. He enters 2016 as fourth on the all-time list of hits as a catcher (1,920), and could move up this season with a very strong year. Pierzynski is 125 hits behind Carlton Fisk and 140 behind Jason Kendall. Ivan Rodriguez is a long ways away with 2,749 hits.
Catcher Guillermo Quiroz is in camp with the Cleveland Indians on a minor league deal, and Juan Uribe joins him with a big league pact. Quiroz had one big moment with the Giants, a walk-off home run against the Dodgers in 2013, and is one-for-three with an RBI this spring. Despite rumors of a reunion with the Giants, 2010 postseason hero Uribe went to Cleveland, and is batting .500 with a double in six at-bats.
And finally, it’s Panda-monium in Boston. After showing up overweight (again) and a day later than he said he would, Pablo Sandoval has done nothing on the field to improve his standing with the team. In 16 at-bats, Sandoval has two hits, both doubles. With Travis Shaw showing that he may be the slugger of the future for Boston, Sandoval’s job is in serious jeopardy.