Sure, last year was a yo-yo party for Brandon Belt, the Giants talented first-baseman-turned-outfielder-maybe, but this year was going to be great. Right? Maybe.
Since Belt played winter ball this offseason and worked his tail off, he's a lock to get some good playing time at the major-league level. Or not: per Alex Pavlovic of the San Jose Mercury-News, Bruce Bochy was absolutely non-committal about Belt's status heading into the season.
"In [Belt's] case, it's going to come down to the last days [of spring training]," general manager Brian Sabean said. "We'll have to weigh how much flexibility and how much versatility each person selected gives to the team. We're still evaluating him in the outfield."
Here's the big issue: Aubrey Huff is making a big pile of money to play first base this year, and the Giants don't want to start Belt and set that pile of money on fire. Plus, Bochy has to save some starts at first base for Buster Posey, who still has yet to catch in back-to-back games this spring. Also, apparently, Bochy really loves Brett Pill.
So first base, which is Belt's natural position, is all but ruled out barring a major injury to Huff; at least on a permanent basis anyway. He can play in the outfield, of course, but it's pretty crowded out there too: Melky Cabrera, Angel Pagan, Nate Schierholtz and Gregor Blanco are all going to be soaking up spots on the depth chart.
Belt would be fine flipping back and forth from first to the outfield, but he just doesn't want to get jerked back and forth from the big-league level to Triple-A like he did last year.
"I've been through all that last year, and I know how to handle it a little better this year," Belt said when discussing the uncertainty of his future. "I don't think it's too difficult to switch back and forth between first and the outfield.
"The hardest thing is playing and then not playing, playing and then not."
Unfortunately for Belt, that could very well happen. Depending on roster space, he could easily start the season in Fresno. By doing that, the Giants can ensure that he gets at-bats, rather than riding the pine, waiting to relieve Huff or one of the many outfielders.
And so, despite Bochy saying that Belt is having "the best spring" of the various first basemen, Belt could be going back to Fresno. Again.
"I'm not worried too much about all that," he said. "There were a lot of obstacles last year, and most of them were created by me putting pressure on myself and becoming overwhelmed.
"If they decide I'm going to Fresno, I'll just work on getting out of there and back to the big leagues as quickly as possible."
At least he'll be ready for it.