With 19 Spring Training games in the books and 16 left to go, the San Francisco Giants have begun to see the light at the end of the tunnel which is the Cactus League. And with the regular season just around the corner, it's time to let the starters get more playing time and get the minor leaguers back to, well, the minors. The 21 man roster cut today leaves the squad with a measly 41, and now it's only deciding who will make the back end of the 25 man opening day roster; a difficult task for skipper Bruce Bochy and the rest of the Giants' braintrust.
Names like Thomas Neal, Francisco Peguero, Connor Gillespie, Alex Hinshaw, Henry Sosa, Clayton Tanner, and Santiago Casilla brother Jose, and many others were all sent back to their respective minor league affiliates, basically the majority of the Giants 6th-9th inning bodies. This is the first sign that things are getting more serious in the Cactus League, pitchers will start throwing longer sessions, players will play longer outings in the field, the games will start to have more of a regular season feel. This comes with an increase of television and radio broadcasts, heightened media coverage, and more scrutiny of player's performances, And are there ever players to scrutinize.
The first names that come to mind are Aaron Rowand and Jeff Suppan. Rowand spent his day yesterday out in left field for the first time in almost a decade, and he certainly wasn't too happy about it. It's become rather obvious that he won't be getting his starting center field position back from Andres Torres, and isn't as untroubled about it as he was last year. Sure you could send guys like Nate Schierholtz of Travis Ishikawa back to the minors, but then you'd be losing a quality defender and left handed batter in Schierholtz and a pinch hitting guru and utility man in Ishikawa. Rowand's outrageous contract makes him an unlikey target for other teams unless the Giants plan on gobbling up the majority of his contract, so why not give him what he wants and let him start every game for Fresno in center field?
As for Jeff Suppan, he is all up in the mix for making the opening day squad. Although his competition is tight with guys like Ryan Vogelsong, Guillermo Mota and Dan Runzler, and there of course is the incredible story of veteran Marc Kroon. The Giants need a longer reliever/possible 6th starter to solidify their bullpen, and all of these guys basically can fit these molds. The Giants essentially have one spot for a positional player and one spot for a pitcher to fill with a number of guys fighting for it, it will be really interesting to see who steps up in the clutch and proves themselves worthy.
14-5 Record. 16 games left. The Giants are right where they want to be as the regular season starts...Winning!