Is Austin Slater Part of a Youth Movement for Giants?

PHILADELPHIA -- Three hours before Friday's game, Christian Arroyo and Austin Slater walked out of the clubhouse and looked around. They were in search of the batting cage at Citizens Bank Park. This is all new to them, and it's new to the Giants, too.

They added Arroyo, now 22, a month ago, and the 24-year-old Slater and 25-year-old Orlando Calixte have joined from Triple-A Sacramento over the past week. Slater is hitting eighth and playing right field Friday in his major league debut. 

Is this a youth movement for an aging and struggling team?

"You know what, we want to take a look at the young guys and see what we have here," manager Bruce Bochy said.

There are, however, caveats. Bochy said Slater will play every day until Hunter Pence returns from a hamstring injury, and that could be any day now. Arroyo, after slumping through the end of May, was ready to go back to Sacramento before Hunter Strickland's appeal hearing was pushed back two weeks. He flew on his own Thursday and it appears he'll be optioned in the coming days.

So, the Giants haven't yet committed to a rebuild or even a new look for their current squad. But they are curious to see what they have in players like Slater, who will primarily be a corner outfielder but can handle center in a pinch. 

Slater, a Stanford product, had an .841 OPS for the River Cats. He's a career .308 hitter in the minors and the power is starting to come. Slater suffered a fracture in his left hand playing winter ball, and the Giants believe that held him back in the spring. Now fully healthy and locked in, Slater is excited for the opportunity. He wasn't allowed to get on a 5 a.m. bus on Thursday. Eventually, manager Dave Brundage told him to head to San Francisco for the chartered flight to Philadelphia.

"I really didn't know what was going on," he said, laughing. "I was half asleep."

He was all smiles Friday. His parents are here, along with his sister. Some friends are coming up Saturday to watch the Jacksonville native continue his first weekend in the big leagues.

Slater hopes to break through the way Arroyo did early on. He said watching Arroyo's promotion helped motivate him even more.

"Absolutely. Being down there, you love to see that kind of stuff happen," he said. "It shows you they're willing to reward stellar play. You think, alright, he set the benchmark but if I play well they're not afraid to make a move."

Copyright CSNBY - CSN BAY
Contact Us