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Article:Giants' Varsity Handle A's

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The Giants had their first split-squad games of the spring on Sunday, and Bruce Bochy kind of divided the teams into A and B teams, or what I call the Varsity and JV squads.

The Varsity, or the A team, shut down the Oakland Athletics, as they were led by another Randy Johnson gem. The 6'10" lefty went 3 1/3 innings,
1236584001 Bengie ST
allowing no runs on 2 hits and striking out 3, leading the Giants to a 10-1 victory of the A's. In that game, the Giants played most of the players who will be in the opening day line-up. Offensively, the Giants got solid outputs from Fred Lewis (2/3, 2b, 2 RBI and a run), Bengie Molina (1/2, HR, RBI) and Pablo Sandoval (1/3, RBI). They also got a nice game from Matt Downs, who started in right field while Randy Winn got the day off from the field and started at DH. Downs is another guy who has the versatility to play both the infield and outfield and should start the season in Fresno after hitting a combined .294 with 20 home runs and 82 RBI in 523 at-bats split between San Jose and Fresno. The soon to be 25-year old (March 19th) is starting to hit that final phase of true prospect eligibility, hopefully he takes that next step this season and can maybe contribute to the big league club at some point in '09. One more interesting tid-bit from this game was that Bochy decided to play Emmanuel Burriss with the varsity team as their starting second basemen while Kevin Frandsen played with the B team. I'm not sure we should take too much out of this, and there still is plenty of baseball to be played before the decision needs to be made, but apparently Burris could have the leg up on Frandsen at this point. The Giants bullpen arms are starting to look a lot better over the last few days as well. There weren't many positives that came out of the JV 8-1 loss to the Angels, but one was the outings of Jack Taschner and Alex Hinshaw. Both threw scoreless innings, and both got their spring era's back into single digits. With Jeremy Affeldt on board and the Giants possibly leaning towards carrying an 11-man pitching staff, it would appear that Hinshaw and Taschner are fighting it out for one spot. They both could end up making the team, but I'd doubt it. As I've said earlier, I'd lean towards Hinshaw. Both guys are very similar at this point in their careers, but Hinshaw is a few years younger and I think he'll end up being better than Taschner. A bullpen arm that has had a good spring and is fighting both
1236584003 S. Romo
Hinshaw and Taschner for a roster spot himself is Brandon Medders. The former D-Back continued to extend his spring scoreless-inning streak by throwing another uneventful inning. Medders leads all Giants relievers in innings pitched this spring with 6 1/3, and is really making a case for himself to make this team out of spring. If Merkin Valdez and Sergio Romo are both healthy and throwing like they can before the end of March, then chances are against Medders. However, Romo may not be ready to start the season as he's had continuing stiffness in his elbow which has required a few MRI exams. After Brian Wilson, Bob Howry, Affeldt, and Valdez, there will be either 2-3 spots to be had. One of those spots will go to another lefty, leaving 1-2 open spots for either Romo, Medders, Justin Miller, or Luis Perdomo, and I think that Medders has a slight edge on the others right now.

In other notes from the weekend games, Matt Cain had his best outing of the spring on Saturday, throwing 3 innings, while allowing 1 hit and striking out 3.... Edgar Renteria, the only projected opening day starter that didn't play Sunday for the Giants, has played a little better of late and has raised his spring average to .261 after a very poor first week at the plate... Jesus Guzman, a guy who has been a huge bright spot for the team offensively, played his first game of the spring at 1st base vs. the Angels Sunday and played it beautifully... Buster Posey continues to get time in big league camp and went 1-2 Sunday, improving to 3/8 on the spring with 2 RBI.

Trevor Cole The San Francisco Giants Blog


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