SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. – The lineup the Giants roll out Saturday afternoon for their Cactus League opener will resemble the one that opens the season at Yankee Stadium on March 30, although most of the veterans won’t play more than a few innings.
Manager Gabe Kapler said Friday that LaMonte Wade Jr. (1B), Thairo Estrada (2B), Brandon Crawford (3B), Austin Slater (CF) and Joc Pederson (DH) all tentatively scheduled to face the Cubs on Saturday at Sloan Park in Mesa (12:05 hours PT), while two prospects – Casey Schmitt (3B) and Heliot Ramos (RF) – will also join them.
Rule 5 catcher Blake Sabol will be the batterymate of previously announced starting pitcher Tristan Beck.
Fittingly, for a club that has used a different left fielder on Opening Day for the past 16 seasons, the position has yet to be determined heading into their spring opener, Kapler said. Michael Conforto is expected to occupy the left on Opening Day, but he remains limited due to shoulder surgery last year. Mike Yastrzemski, David Villar, Wilmer Flores and JD Davis are the other veterans who will not play on Saturday.
It’s no coincidence that, along with the starting battery, every other pitcher scheduled last season had some experience with the pitch clock in the minor leagues. Saturday will be the debut of MLB’s new rules in live action.
“If we want to be curious, these are good sources,” Kapler said.
When the Giants acquired San Jose native Sam Delaplane in mid-2021, they thought he could be another land reclamation project that could one day add to their bullpen. He had elbow reconstruction in April and the Giants picked him up for cash after he was designated by the Mariners for assignment in May.
Delaplane, 27, was in camp as an off-roster invitee and faced live hitters Friday afternoon. But his way back from Tommy John surgery, Kapler said, was harder than expected. Last season, he returned to the mound for the first time since 2019, with Single-A San Jose, but soon suffered a setback that ruled him out for the remainder of the season. And he’s still struggling to find the speed that tempted the Giants to acquire him.
“Sam has had a hard time,” Kapler said on Friday. “This has been a challenging rehab. He is very, very physically strong. The speed is not quite back yet. So we’re trying to help him get back into the shape that got us all so interested in him, but it’s been a slower process than I think Sam would like, and the same for us.
In 2019, his last healthy season, Delaplane played in 46 games between High-A and Double-A with a 2.23 ERA, 120 strikeouts and 23 walks in 68 ⅔ innings.
— Reliever Cole Waites (lat strain), who injured himself while bullpening in front of camp, said he expects to return to pitching on Monday after being reassessed on Sunday.
– Conforto is expected to play Cactus League exclusively as a designated hitter, but Kapler said he could see time in the outfield in the first week of March.
— About KNBR, CEO of Giants Larry Baer announced new, lower beer prices at Oracle Park. You can buy a 14 ounce domestic draft for $9.