San Francisco

Giants Face Tough Decision With Pablo Sandoval as Opening Day Nears

SAN FRANCISCO -- For two days the clubhouse at Oracle Park has been overflowing with energy in large part because of the presence of Pablo Sandoval. But there's no guarantee Sandoval will be in the room when the Giants begin their season Thursday in San Diego. 

Seemingly a lock for the roster at the start of camp, Sandoval finds himself in a tough spot. The Giants likely will carry just four bench bats, and two spots already have been given to Yangervis Solarte and Erik Kratz. Sandoval is part of a crowd that includes Alen Hanson, Mac Williamson, Henry Ramos and newcomers Connor Joe and Michael Reed.

"He's in that mix," president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said Tuesday. "Obviously you're evaluating not just what he meant to this organization last year but over the course of his entire career, and what he could bring to this team this season -- which is a pretty valuable bat -- against the fact that our roster and our lineup is pretty left-handed right now."

Zaidi said the Giants do not have enough time to really judge Joe and Reed on the field before Opening Day, so they will rely on past track records and evaluations. That would seem to be a good sign for both players, given that Zaidi acquired them in the final week of decision-making. Joe is a Rule 5 pick and the Giants acquired him with the intention of keeping him Thursday instead of offering him back to the Dodgers. Reed can play center field and bats right-handed, filling two needs. 

Zaidi also said that the Giants are concerned about their infield coverage, particularly at shortstop.  

"We want to make sure we're not overextending Brandon (Crawford) ... we've obviously got some ways to cover that spot and that's going to be part of the consideration," Zaidi said. 

Hanson is the solution there, and the next best option defensively if Crawford needs a break. Sandoval has worked to make himself versatile, even taking fly balls in left field this spring, but there's only so far he can stretch. 

The Giants were set to meet before Tuesday's game and again after the game to continue discussing their options. They still could fit Sandoval on the roster, and perhaps they'll get creative with the injured list before Thursday morning's roster deadline, but at the moment this appears to be a nervous week for longtime Giants like Sandoval and Williamson. 

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