The SF Giants got some good news on Friday as the team announced one of their key position players is taking the next step in his rehab. In a videoconference with reporters, manager Gabe Kapler revealed that third baseman Evan Longoria, who has been slowed by plantar fasciitis this spring, will debut at the hot corner on Saturday against the Seattle Mariners.
This is an encouraging sign for the veteran third baseman as time is running out in the Cactus League. The Giants’ regular season begins on April 1 in Seattle against the Mariners, so there are not many opportunities left to Longoria to get game repetitions. With that said, he remains ahead of Brandon Belt, who remains on track to play on Opening Day.
SF Giants Evan Longoria to debut at third base on Saturday
Unlike his infield counterpart on the other side of the diamond, Longoria has played in spring training games throughout the preseason but solely as a designated hitter. The 35-year-old has performed very well in the batter’s box. In fact, he has been one of the team’s better hitters in camp. In 23 at-bats, the right-handed hitter has collected nine hits, including four home runs and two doubles, with ten RBI. Needless to say, his .391/.417/1.000 triple-slash is one of the best in the league.
Even though Longoria will appear at third base on Saturday, it remains to be seen if he will be ready to play in the field by Opening Day. The good news is that San Francisco is opening at an American League ballpark, so Longoria will almost assuredly be in the lineup. The question remains whether he will see the field.
The problem for the Giants is finding a replacement for Longoria at third base. His offensive output is a bonus at this stage of his career, but he is, by far, the best defensive third baseman on the team.
If he cannot play the field on April 1, then the Giants will turn to a combination of Tommy La Stella, Donovan Solano, and Wilmer Flores to hold down the hot corner. Of course, Solano and Flores both struggled mightily defensively at third base last season, so La Stella would probably receive the lion’s share of the opportunities. Needless to say, whatever direction they go, the dropoff will be pretty noticeable.
The SF Giants will obviously be better off if Evan Longoria can play in the field on Opening Day. On Saturday, he should take a huge step towards doing just that by playing his first official game in the field of spring training.