Roster spots tough to come by in Giants camp

Left-field job, bench and bullpen spots remain up for grabs

Roster spots tough to come by in Giants camp

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Competition for vacancies on the Giants' Opening Day roster has met expectations. That is, jobs will be won instead of being handed to the guy who screwed up the least.

The primary left-field candidates -- Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson -- have performed admirably. At least one Major League-worthy reliever, possibly more, appears destined to begin the season at Triple-A Sacramento. And San Francisco's bench, which has been largely barren in recent years, likely will include players who are capable of starting.

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"I've never seen so many talented people in one camp," said first baseman/outfielder Michael Morse, whose professional career began in 2000. Referring to the final roster cuts, Morse added, "I feel like it's going to be a hard decision for them. They can take anybody and it's the right decision."

Here's a revised version of the Giants' projected 25-man active roster, which differs slightly from the one published as Spring Training started:

Catcher (2): Buster Posey, Nick Hundley
A right-handed batter, Hundley frequently will function as a pinch-hitter. He hit .314 off left-handers in the previous two seasons.

First base (1): Brandon Belt
Through Thursday's scheduled off-day, Belt had compiled a slash line of .310/.364/.655. San Francisco would be euphoric if he could merely come close to duplicating such production during the regular season.

Second base (1): Joe Panik
Panik has made better contact than his .286 batting average indicates. The reigning National League Gold Glove Award winner also is playing solid defense. A second career All-Star selection could be in store for him.

Third base (1): Eduardo Nunez
In Wednesday's exhibition against the Angels, Nunez made a breathtaking diving stop to initiate a double play and scored the Giants' first run after doubling and stealing third. Eligible for free agency after this season, Nunez could spur himself to maintain this dynamic level of play all year.

Nunez starts a nice double play

Shortstop (1): Brandon Crawford
Not much more can be said about Crawford, who ranks among the game's best all-around performers at his position. Winning the past two NL Gold Glove Awards, receiving the 2015 NL Silver Slugger Award and earning two All-Star selections reflect his skills.

Utility (2): Conor Gillaspie, Aaron Hill
Kelby Tomlinson was originally named as a probable choice for one of these spots. But though Tomlinson is batting .333, the more experienced Hill, who's hitting .320, appears to be a fit for this role. Tomlinson has a Minor League option remaining, so San Francisco doesn't have to worry about losing him through waivers if it tries to send him to the Minors. Gillaspie, who plays primarily third base, lacks the defensive versatility that manager Bruce Bochy seeks. But since last postseason, Gillaspie's left-handed bat has been too noisy to ignore. The Giants could have the unpleasant task of saying goodbye to Jimmy Rollins -- a borderline Hall of Famer-- and Gordon Beckham, a veteran who's a much-needed source of humor. Judging players on Spring Training performance can be risky, but neither Rollins (.130) nor Beckham (.208) has thrived offensively. Third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang probably will begin the year at Triple-A, but he has made an overwhelmingly positive impression and should find his way to San Francisco at some juncture.

Gillaspie's two-run homer

Outfield (5): Parker, Morse, Denard Span, Hunter Pence, Gorkys Hernandez
No changes here since the initial prognostications. But much has happened since then. Williamson (.324) has out-hit Parker (.313). But Parker's improved savvy overall, demonstrated by his seven walks, could make a difference. Morse (.304) will stick around as long as he keeps hitting.

Starting pitchers (5): Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Matt Moore, Jeff Samardzija, Ty Blach
General manager Bobby Evans fired a warning shot in Matt Cain's direction with his remarks in a radio interview earlier this week. If Cain doesn't improve in his final Cactus League starts, the Giants might find a way to get him in extended Spring Training in the hope that he'll recover a representative sampling of his stuff. Meanwhile, Blach will occupy the fifth-starter's spot, though Tyler Beede likely will pitch in a San Francisco uniform at some point during 2017.

Relief pitchers (7): Mark Melancon, Hunter Strickland, George Kontos, Derek Law, Cory Gearrin, Steven Okert, Will Smith
To repeat what was written in this space a month ago: This contingent is far from set. Okert, who has been unscored upon in five outings, may already have clinched a job. Left-hander Josh Osich has pitched capably but might be one of several who'll have to wait their turn. Gearrin has a 9.00 ERA but is out of Minor League options. Albert Suarez will join the mix if the Giants decide they need a legitimate long reliever. The glut could be eased somewhat if Smith (elbow) begins the season on the disabled list.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.