GOODYEAR, Ariz.–After three other tries in Cactus League play, the Giants finally found their way to the win column Tuesday against the Reds.
Right-hander Dereck Rodríguez made his first start of the spring and allowed one earned run in 1 2/3 innings of work in the team’s 4-3 win.
Last spring, Rodríguez arrived in camp as a minor league free agent and pitched sparingly before being sent to Triple-A Sacramento to open the season. Following one of the best rookie seasons in San Francisco Giants history, Rodríguez is locked into a battle for a rotation spot and will start regularly throughout camp.
“I think last year I had nine innings in total in the spring and that’s including big league camp and minor league camp,” Rodríguez said. “So knowing that I’m going to get my work in and have my spot…so it’s good to know that Sunday I’ll be out there again.”
Rodríguez threw all of his pitches Tuesday and displayed a good feel for his changeup. He missed high with a handful of fastballs, but was pleased that his arm responded well to the early challenge.
Even after posting a 2.81 ERA in 19 starts, Rodríguez will have to earn his way into the Giants rotation with strong outings this spring. The converted outfielder said he’s not concerned about having to compete for a job with a number of veterans including Jeff Samardzija, Drew Pomeranz and Chris Stratton.
“No, I mean if you start thinking about that stuff, you’re already losing,” Rodríguez said. “So you just go out there and concentrate on what you need to do at that time and leave the decision to them.”
Rodríguez didn’t arrive in the big leagues until May 29 last season, but he’s hopeful his days of paying his dues in the minors are over.
“Come the 23rd (of March), when everyone gets on that plane, hopefully I’m on it,” Rodríguez said.
Anthony Garcia homers
The Giants didn’t send many regulars to Goodyear and instead gave most of Tuesday’s opportunities to non-roster invitees or inexperienced players who will likely start the year in the minors.
That decision cleared the way for minor league free agent Anthony Garcia to start in right field and he took advantage with a towering solo home run off the scoreboard beyond the left center field fence.
“You like the way he gets after it when he swings,” manager Bruce Bochy said.
Garcia hit 25 home runs for the Oakland A’s Triple-A affiliate last year and his third inning home run offered a reminder of his impressive power. Though Garcia faces an uphill climb to claim a roster spot, ZiPS projects him to finish with the highest wins above replacement (1.1) of any outfielder in Giants camp.
Abiatal Avelino improves on defense
Shortstop Abiatal Avelino made two errors in the first three games of Cactus League play, but he rebounded with a strong day Tuesday.
In the bottom of the fifth, Avelino made a difficult running catch in foul territory down the left field line and followed it up with a smooth double play turn to end the inning. The infield prospect took a throw from second baseman Donovan Solano at second base and fired a strike to first to get reliever Ray Black out of the frame.
- Right-hander Jose Lopez made his Giants debut Tuesday after being claimed on waivers at the beginning of camp. Lopez faced his former team and tossed two innings of one-hit ball with three strikeouts, showcasing a quirky delivery and a hard curveball that served as a strong put-away pitch.
- Pablo Sandoval (tweaked side muscle) is “a couple of days” away from making his spring debut.
- Buster Posey (hip) and Steven Duggar (shoulder) are both on track to debut by the end of this week. Posey caught and hit in live batting practice during Tuesday’s workout at Scottsdale Stadium.
- Bochy said catcher Stephen Vogt continues to make progress as he works his way back from shoulder surgery. He threw from the crouch during Tuesday’s workout and could play in games by the middle of March.
- Brandon Belt (illness) missed Tuesday’s game and will likely sit out Wednesday’s home game as well.