It was SoCal TV, but we’ll take it!
We got our first look at the 2014 Giants today (sans Buster Posey, Brandon Belt and Marco Scutaro), who picked up a 3-2 Cactus League win over the Angels (sans Mike Trout and Josh Hamilton) in Scottsdale.
We’re already seven games into the spring slate, so most of us have seen a good chunk of short highlight clips already. But it’s still wild to think this was the first live-broadcast Giants game since last September. Seems like ages ago! I was able to catch today’s action from the second inning on. Let’s discuss it, shall we?
First, the good stuff…
Matt Cain: Cainer tossed his first three innings of the year, and kept up the trend of consistent starting pitching early on. I didn’t see all of his work, but I can tell you he threw a couple of curves in the third inning that were just filthy. He looked sharp, allowing only one baserunner.
Middle Order Bats: No Posey or Belt today, but Pablo Sandoval, Hunter Pence and Mike Morse combined for four hits and three RBI out of the 3-4-5 spots. Pablo really does look great, which may seem like it’s not news since it’s been beaten mercilessly into the ground already. Honestly, it is news. Big news for the Giants. The Panda is in solid playing shape, and he swung the stick impressively against Jered Weaver this afternoon.
Morse laid a pretty mighty cut in the 5th, roping a double down the left field line and scoring Pence from first. Morse is another one who looks very good early.
Heath Hembree: Hembree had an atrocious inning in his first outing of the spring, but his second came with much less drama. Yorvit Torrealba turned one around to lead off the 9th, but Roger Kieschnick made a diving catch in the left-center field gap. After that, Hembree cruised for the final two outs, ending the game with a swinging strike 3 on an elevated fastball.
And to cap it all off, it was another two-hit day from Mark Minicozzi, aka Mr. Inspirational.
Now, the really good stuff…
Why is Jose De Paula on the 40-man roster? Because he’s nasty, that’s why. The offseason signee pitched two innings today, and was very surprising all the way around. His size, surprising. His frame, surprising. His left-handed stuff? Whoa Nellie.
Now, there’s obviously a reason this guy didn’t make it to camp with San Diego this year. He’s got age issues, he’s never pitched in AAA, and he’s pretty unknown. But he flashed some sweet control today, of both a fastball that he ran in on the hands of righties, and a sweeping back-foot breaking ball. Even Hank Schulman said it this afternoon: Remember this guy’s name. If he can continue to harness his stuff like he did today, and keeps pumping mid-90’s heat, he’s a serious threat for a roster spot come April.
Ok, it wasn’t all roses today. Here’s the bad…
Young bats: Between Roger Kieschnick, Nick Noonan and Gary Brown, I’m just not that impressed. Noonan had a hit today, and Kieschnick made that diving grab, but the offense is just looking a little 4A at the moment. Brown does have a few hits this spring, but he struck out in a big situation late in the game, and his swing just doesn’t seem like anything to write home about. I hope I’m wrong.
Younger bats: Included in the late-game substitutions were Andrew Susac, Mac Williamson and Joe Panik. While they only had one AB apiece, none of those AB’s were all that exciting. Mac had runners on the corners and nobody out, but grounded out weakly to the right side. Susac had two men in scoring position, but grounded out to short. Panik led off the 8th, but was also retired weakly.
All three of the kids looked like they were pitched backwards, and that’s something they’ll have to make some adjustments against when they get to AAA/AA respectively. Nobody’s expecting huge things from these guys in camp this year, but it would be cool to see one of them open some eyes before it’s all over.
Finally, the REALLY bad…
I didn’t get to see Ehire Adrianza (he didn’t play)! Bummer!
Overall, it was great to see the squad back in action. Now, I think I can say it officially feels like baseball season.