The smell of freshly cut outfield grass is beginning to fill the noses of Florida and Arizona residents. The sound of metal spikes clicking and clacking against the sunflower seed residue-covered concrete echoes throughout the two states.
The moment is rapidly approaching where the name on the back of the jersey must become less important than the name on the front of the jersey.
Spring Training baseball is in the air, and in the heart of Scottsdale, AZ, the San Francisco Giants are beginning the process of capitalizing on their high hopes for the 2017 season.
They may have gained some team chemistry in the offseason with the additions of college teammates Mark Melancon and Nick Hundley. Hundley will add some needed bench depth and you can never have enough catchers. Hundley’s decision to sign with San Francisco was not a random one, as he played for two of the Giants’ division rivals; the San Diego Padres from 2008-2014 and the Colorado Rockies from 2015-2016.
The Giants are also the team he’s hit the most home runs against, with a solid .283/.345/.504 slash line against them as well. Aside from knowing the team so well from years of playing them and being reunited with his University of Arizona Wildcat teammate, when asked why he chose the Giants, he referred to their consistency in their roster and front office, while maintaining a certain reputation of postseason success in recent years.
Melancon fulfills the Giants’ biggest need that’s been weighing on them since Brian Wilson left the closer role opento be filled. The Giants signed Melancon was signed to a $62 million, four-year contract, which was a complete steal considering the level of necessity the Giants had reached.
Melancon, a three-time all-star and the Major League saves leader in 2015 with 51, has really earned his money in the previous three seasons, signing one-year contracts worth $2.95 million in 2014, $5.4 million in 2015, and $9.65 million in 2016.
Alongside their improved bullpen, the Giants are returning with a solid one through four in their pitching rotation; Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, and Matt Moore, with the fifth spot being battled for at Spring Training by Ty Blach, Derek Law, and Matt Cain.
Their lineup remains nearly identical to the end of last season with Brandon Belt, Joe Panik, Eduardo Nunez, and Brandon Crawford making up the infield, while Jarrett Parker, Denard Span, and Hunter Pence rounding off the outfield, with Buster Posey manning home plate.
Manager Bruce Bochy also mentioned to reporters that, because of the injury histories of Denard Span and Hunter Pence, the Giants might run a five-man outfield rotation with Mac Williamson and Gorkys Hernandez.
To summarize the low-activity offseason, the 2017 San Francisco Giants are basically the 2016 Giants with a solid closer.
Given their history of playoff success, this offseason could only be described as a positive step forward to regaining that status.
The Giants will play their first Spring Training game this Friday at Scottsdale Stadium against the Cincinnati Reds. The first pitch is scheduled to be thrown at 1:05 p.m.