September 6, 2013; San Francisco, CA, USA; San Francisco Giants second baseman Marco Scutaro (19) catches a ball off the bat of Arizona Diamondbacks second baseman Aaron Hill (2, not pictured) during the eighth inning at AT&T Park. The Giants defeated the Diamondbacks 3-0. Mandatory Credit: Kyle Terada-USA TODAY Sports
When the San Francisco Giants unveiled their 25 man roster, there, as expected, were a few surprises. With Jeremy Affeldt and Marco Scutaro both beginning the season on the DL, their active spots on the roster were offered up. Ehire Adrianza, Yusmeiro Petit, David Huff and non-roster invitee Brandon Hicks – who, otherwise may not have won a spot on the roster – opened the season on the squad. However, with Affeldt and Scutaro potentially close to returning, who will be sent down upon their arrival?
Petit and Huff had battled all spring long for the long relief spot in the bullpen before Affeldt suffered a right knee sprain and consequentially began the season on a 15 day DL. It had originally been assumed that Petit had won the role, and that Huff was simply a replacement due to being a southpaw. But with spring, and now regular season form considered, Huff could well maintain his spot on the roster.
Petit had struggled all spring long, prompting rumours of Huff and Escobar winning the long relief role. However, after throwing several shutout frames against the Oakland Athletics, he proved he was ready to return to this form of 2013, when he dominated whilst filling in for Ryan Vogelsong. On opening day, he refueled the intrigue of leaving Huff on the roster.
After Madison Bumgarner exited the game after four innings, Petit entered in the fifth. In only two innings, he allowed three runs, six hits and one walk yielding a 13.50 ERA. Huff, on the other hand, is yet to pitch in the regular season. In spring, over nine innings, he allowed only three hits, one walk and had an impressive 1.00 ERA. I know, I know, Petit can’t be judged on one regular season performance, but his struggles have been consistent from the start of spring, and with Affeldt potentially returning in early April, Huffs stats are hard to overlook.
In terms of infield, things are hard to judge given the situation of Scutaro. Two games into the regular season and we are still no clearer on the return date of Scutaro, and the progression of his lower back strain. Taking advantage of the absence of Marco, Ehire Adrianza – a defensive wizard out of minor league options – and Brandon Hicks – a non-roster invitee who has displayed his superb power this spring. Currently, with Joaquin Arias playing second base, there is room for both Hicks and Adrianza, but the same can’t be said for when Scutaro returns.
Given the struggle of the Giants infields defense, Adrianza provides an attractive option. His three spring home runs, which were vastly considered an anomaly, may not be as rare as we first thought. Already this season, whilst only pinch-hitting in two ABs, he has one run batted in with a double. Similarly to David Huff, Hicks is yet to feature in the regular season. His spring however, speaks volumes. He hit three home runs, 11 RBI and had a .348/.456/.696 slashline, naturally, the non-roster invitee raised a few eyebrows.
The situation begs the question, defense or offense? If, in the days/weeks/months before the return of Scutaro, Adrianza can prove that he consistently hit at a major league level, he should secure his spot on the roster, especially given that he must be exposed to waivers before being sent down to the minors, unlike Hicks. The pitching duel between Petit and Huff is still very much undecided, and the performance of the two relievers in the time before Affeldt returns, will likely decide who maintains a spot on the roster.