Pair of non-roster outfielders quickly becoming Opening Day options for SF Giants

Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants
Philadelphia Phillies v San Francisco Giants / Thearon W. Henderson/GettyImages

The SF Giants outfield has taken a hit with injuries to Austin Slater (calf) and Mitch Haniger (oblique). The Giants are holding out hope that both can be ready by Opening Day but time is running out, so they could pivot to a pair of replacements in Stephen Piscotty and Bryce Johnson.

Pair of non-roster outfielders quickly becoming Opening Day options for SF Giants

The Giants are keeping all options open as both Blake Sabol and Brett Wisely are beginning to see time in the outfielder. However, they could opt for more experience with either Piscotty or Johnson, especially considering that both are performing well in camp.

In fairness, Sabol, Wisely, Piscotty, and Johnson are all making good impressions. However, Piscotty and Johnson are not on the 40-man roster and both are making a case to change that in different ways.

The Giants confirmed on Saturday that Slater has a strained hamstring, putting his Opening Day status in doubt. Similarly, Haniger has not played in over a week as he is dealing with an oblique strain. The hope is that he can ramp up baseball activities after resting the oblique.

The injuries leave the Giants without a true healthy, right-handed-hitting outfielder on the 40-man roster still in camp at moment. This may not be a problem as the Giants likely will not face more than a couple of left-handed starters in the first couple of weeks of the year.

However, it is concerning in some sense given that Haniger was expected to be in the middle of the lineup regardless of who was on the mound. These injuries could be creating opportunities for Piscotty and Johnson.

Piscotty, who is set to to return from an oblique injury soon, recorded seven hits, including three doubles, in 21 at-bats this spring. He was one of the early Giants leaders in terms of at-bats, which suggests that the coaching staff wanted to get a long look at the veteran outfielder.

It has been a long time since Piscotty was a threat at the plate. The 32-year-old has posted an 84 OPS+ since the start of 2019 and has recorded double-digit homers just once in that timespan. The Giants are hoping that a change of scenery, and perhaps catching lightning in a bottle, could help Piscotty.

On the other hand, Johnson is flashing a quality that the Giants are extremely thin on - speed. The switch-hitting outfielder has had an impressive spring, recording seven hits in 22 at-bats with two walks against six strikeouts. This includes nine stolen bases, which leads baseball at the moment.

Giants fans briefly saw Johnson as he tallied two hits in 18 at-bats before being outrighted off of the 40-man roster in the winter. The 27-year-old outfielder is one of the faster and and better defensive players in camp. In fact, he is one of the top defensive outfielders in the organization.

However, the bat has lagged behind as he has recorded a .736 OPS across five minor league seasons. There could be a niche role for him as a pinch runner and defensive replacement, but those roles are often tough to sustain.

For now, both Piscotty and Johnson are doing what they can do to try and make the club. The injuries to Slater and Haniger could create opportunities for either outfielder.