The Giants announced their Opening Day roster after beating the A’s 3-0 in their final exhibition game. The 25-man squad that will toe the chalked line in Los Angeles features a pair of familiar faces and one noticeably absent rookie outfielder.
Manager Bruce Bochy confirmed that outfielders Gregor Blanco and Gorkys Hernandez will back-up Austin Jackson, Hunter Pence and Andrew McCutchen while Kelby Tomlinson and Pablo Sandoval are the team’s two back-up infielders.
Blanco was all smiles after learning he made the team:
“It’s a dream come true for me. It was hard to leave, for sure, last year but it was a learning experience for me. And when I came back … I worked really hard to deserve this and I’m really proud of myself.”
Pierce Johnson and Roberto Gomez won the two available spots in an eight-man bullpen. The team will carry 13 position players and 12 pitchers — officially going with a four-man rotation — out the gate.
Johnson and Gomez were both optioned to triple-A at separate points during Spring Training but Bochy said the team likes the duo’s stuff and ability to work multiple innings:
“I’ll start with Pierce. Really had a great spring. From day one, he’s been consistent. … We wanted to bring him here for the bay series and continue to throw well, pound the strike zone with all his pitches. So we think he and Roberto Gomez can both help us with innings.
“Both of them have started … we feel like we can get some innings out of those guys. We don’t have a true long man, so to speak, but we think we can get two, three innings out of those two if necessary.”
Johnson, who finished spring with nine strikeouts and three walks in 7 innings without allowing a run, said the emotions of breaking camp with the team haven’t hit him yet:
“This has just been an honor to be in camp with these guys. They gave me an opportunity and I tried to seize it. So I’m really honored to be here. It’s really a privilege to be on the roster, … We have so much talent here it’s unbelievable.”
The Giants are able to get by using just four starters for the first week or two of the season due to off-days but it’s worth noting Johnson and Gomez are likely to be the first two pitchers on the chopping block once the team needs a fifth starter.
Steven Duggar and Josh Rutledge failed to make the team. Duggar will head back to Triple-A Sacramento to play every day after playing only 13 career games above Double-A leading into the season. Bochy stressed that it was important to the Giants for Duggar to play regularly and the team doesn’t want him to waste away on the bench:
“We really wanted him to continue his development, his progress. He didn’t get a lot of at-bats in Triple-A last year. This kid really handled himself well. He’s a pro and worked his tail off. It wasn’t because of something he did, just with the way it sets up right now, we just want to have him down there playing every day and getting those at-bats. He’s a gifted center fielder, we know that. I just don’t want him sitting at this stage in his career.”
When asked to describe what he learned in camp with the major-league roster, Duggar confessed “we’d be here a while” and lauded Blanco for mentoring him:
“He was right there with me every step of the way, always in my ear, talking to me, giving me advice. Defensively, I feel like I’ve grown in every facet of the game. There were some inconsistencies along the way, offensively, definitely towards the end but that’s all part of it.”
Duggar now joins a crowded River Cats outfield joining Austin Slater, Mac Williamson, Chris Shaw in vying for playing time. The 24-year old said he’s excited just to play every day again after mustering only 44 games in 2017 due to a handful of injuries. Given the skills Duggar showed all through March, it’s safe to say he’ll be roaming the AT&T Park outfield sooner rather than later.
The remaining unknown concerns Mark Melancon, who could start the season on the disabled list with an undisclosed arm issue. Bochy noted the team could still add another pitcher if Melancon doesn’t join the Giants in Los Angeles.
“I think when he throws tomorrow, we’ll know. We’ll see how he feels. I’m going to be on the fence there and just wait until he throws tomorrow and talk to the trainers on where he’s at.”