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San Francisco Giants Notes: Panik, Pence, Alex Guerrero

May 27, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Alex Guerrero (7) hits a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning of the game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
May 27, 2015; Los Angeles, CA, USA; Los Angeles Dodgers left fielder Alex Guerrero (7) hits a solo home run against the Atlanta Braves during the ninth inning of the game at Dodger Stadium. Mandatory Credit: Richard Mackson-USA TODAY Sports
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After a long stretch of filling lineup holes with backups and Quadruple-A’ers stashed in Triple-A, the San Francisco Giants are about to be whole again. Joe Panik returned to the lineup Thursday night after a month-long layoff due to a concussion, and word is that Hunter Pence could return on San Francisco.

Panik didn’t have a great first game back in the lineup: he went 0-for-4 while the Giants lost their 10th game in 12 since the all-star break. But his return was badly anticipated, as Manager Bruce Bochy inserted him into the lineup’s third spot to help give the offense a punch. But of course, the big lifts will come with Pence’s return and the arrival of the newest Giant.

The Giants are still without Matt Duffy, but that’s not a problem after they traded for Eduardo Nunez (which we’ll discuss later today), who has a good chance of being the Giants’ regular third baseman for the rest of the season.

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The Giants could also add to their third base depth if they end up pursuing this wild card of a player they are said to be interested in.

You might remember Alex Guerrero bursting onto the scene in 2015 while slamming a bunch of home runs for the Dodgers. It was literally just about a single bunch, as he hit 10 home runs by June 2 last year, but then he mysteriously stopped receiving regular playing time and hardly produced anything after that.

The Dodgers ended up releasing Guerrero earlier this year, and he hasn’t found work since. The Giants are kicking the tires on him, but there would be a major snag if they were to pursue him: the Giants currently employ Miguel Olivo as one of their Triple-A catchers.

As teammates two years ago in the Dodgers’ minor league system, Guerrero and Olivo got into a fight in the dugout, aaaaaand…it didn’t go so well. Olivo bit off a chunk of Guerrero’s ear, and now Guerrero is suing Olivo. So, as you might imagine, employing the two of them could lead to some awkward situations.

Problems could theoretically be avoided if they were playing at different levels in the Giants’ minor league system. But realistically, the Giants would want Guerrero getting at-bats at the Triple-A level if he didn’t have a place on the Major League club’s bench. Olivo, meanwhile, is fourth on the organization’s depth chart at catcher, behind Buster Posey, Trevor Brown and Andrew Susac (with whom he is splitting time at Sacramento). So he’s not likely going anywhere, not even for a September call-up.

It would be rather frustrating for the Giants’ front office if they were in a position in which, on paper, their best roster configuration included Guerrero and Olivo, but they were handcuffed by the fact that Guerrero and Olivo really shouldn’t be in the same room together.

The question is whether it’s worth picking up Guerrero and possibly releasing Olivo? Quite possibly. Guerrero came from Cuba as a third baseman, but his glove is not considered to be up to Major League standards. But he can hit. Olivo has had some Major League success in the past, but at 38 years old he’s way past his prime, and he would probably already be on another Major League roster if he were worthy.

At the same time, Guerrero has been out of organized baseball for a couple months. Prior to his release he struggled during a minor league rehab stint while coming back from a spring training injury, so he would probably need time to get his swing back.

It’s a tough call, but ultimately it’s a gamble that has huge upside and limited downside if the Giants decide to release Olivo.

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