One week from today the San Francisco Giants kick Spring Training into a higher gear when they take on the Cincinnati Reds. With a total of five weeks of Spring Training baseball, San Francisco has some position battles worth monitoring. From the rotation to the backup infielders, the Giants will be making important roster decisions based on Spring Training performances. Which San Francisco story lines are the most intriguing to watch?
The strength of the Giants is their rotation, but they are only as strong as their weakest link. That weak link is Matt Cain. He will have as short of a leash as a struggling veteran pitcher who makes $21 million can have. If Cain struggles out the gate, like he has the past four seasons, San Francisco will have no choice but to move in a different direction.
Cain isn’t the only starter to pay attention to during Spring Training. The Giants top two starters, Madison Bumgarner and Johnny Cueto, could be the best duo in baseball. That is not going to change heading into the regular season. The 31-year-old Cueto has a lot of mileage on his arm, especially the last two seasons when he’s pitched into the postseason. Bumgarner is in the same boat. They both haven’t shown any sign of diminishing skills, but it’s something to keep an eye on.
The most captivating battle of the spring is the starting left field battle between Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker and both will get their fair share of chances over the next five weeks. If one outplays the other, the job is likely theirs but a platoon could still be an option since Williamson is a righty and Parker is a lefty.
For most teams, Spring Training is used to finalize the backup positions and the last bullpen arms. San Francisco has these same roster spots to figure out. The Giants have more versatility than other teams. Infielder’s like Brandon Belt, Eduardo Nunez and Kelby Tomlinson, can play the outfield. This gives San Francisco the option to keep more backup infielders and one less outfielder on the 25-man roster.
The relief pitching situation is even more complex. Realistically, the Giants have two bullpen spots up for grabs. They don’t seem set on who will win the jobs, which means all the options have a chance. Like the other battles, performance will be the deciding factor.
Spring Training is where jobs are won. Players are starting to prove their worth at the major league level. For any team, these battles can make or break a season. The Giants are no different. Their entrance into the playoffs could depend on position battles won in Spring Training.
Harrison Howard covers the San Francisco Giants and Fantasy Baseball as a Staff Writer for OPSN. Follow him on Twitter @harryhoward54.