OAKLAND -- Only one mild surprise unfolded when the Giants made their final cuts Saturday and unveiled their 25-man Opening Day roster. As manager Bruce Bochy and general manager Brian Sabean had hinted, the Giants will accept the risk of making starting third baseman Pablo Sandoval the lone backup to catcher Bengie Molina. As Bochy had indicated, the Giants will begin the season with a 12-man pitching staff that includes rookie right-hander Joe Martinez cast as a long reliever.
But that staff won't include Luis Perdomo, the Rule 5 draft selection who appeared destined through most of the spring to claim a relief role. Instead, the Giants designated Perdomo for assignment and purchased the contract of right-hander Brandon Medders from Triple-A Fresno. To reach the 25-man limit, the Giants also optioned catcher Steve Holm to Fresno; reassigned right-handed pitcher Justin Miller to Minor League camp; placed left-handed pitcher Noah Lowry on the 15-day disabled list with a left shoulder strain; placed right-handed pitcher Sergio Romo on the 15-day DL with a right elbow sprain; and purchased the contracts of infielders Rich Aurilia and Juan Uribe and outfielder Andres Torres from Fresno. Perdomo, 24, owned a 3.48 ERA through 10 Cactus League appearances. But his lack of command in his final three outings unnerved the Giants. In that stretch, he yielded five earned runs, allowed nine hits and walked three in 1 2/3 innings. He finished with a 6.75 ERA to go with 17 hits allowed and eight walks in 12 innings. Perdomo's likely to return to the St. Louis Cardinals, who lost him to the Giants in last December's Rule 5. Perdomo's slump created an opportunity for Medders, who posted a 1.32 ERA after being told last Tuesday that he'd probably begin the season in the Minors. "I think the experience of Medders ultimately won out," vice president of baseball operations Bobby Evans said of the right-hander, who spent all or part of the previous four seasons with the Arizona Diamondbacks. Martinez, 26, will be the lone first-time Major Leaguer among the Giants. Expected to return to Minor League camp by mid-spring, Martinez instead filled the Giants' need for a long reliever by recording a 1.72 ERA in his final five games. As Spring Training evolved and it became clearer that Torres (.406 batting average, .468 on-base percentage, .623 slugging percentage) and Eugenio Velez (.319 batting average, five steals in six attempts) would make the Opening Day roster, observers wondered why the Giants would keep both. They're both speedy, switch-hitting outfielders, though Velez also can play second base. Torres' savvy in the outfield is the primary difference. In the end, the Giants decided to give themselves a double helping of speed. "Torres is an experienced outfielder," Evans pointed out. "Velez is a little more of a work in progress in the outfield, though he showed us this spring that he can hang out there." Including Torres and Velez on the team forced Holm's return to the Minors. The Giants figure they can rely on Molina to handle the bulk of the catching during April, when they have four scheduled off-days. They'll likely summon Holm when Molina or Sandoval encounters fatigue or injury -- or when the club figures the risk of either setback is too great. For now, the Giants will enjoy the luxury of needing only a catcher-and-a-half. "At some point, you're not going to have that luxury," Evans said. "While you do, would you rather have some speed on your bench, or a catcher who's not going to play?" San Francisco's 2009 Opening Day roster includes: Pitchers (12): Jeremy Affeldt, Matt Cain, Alex Hinshaw, Bob Howry, Randy Johnson, Tim Lincecum, Martinez, Medders, Jonathan Sanchez, Merkin Valdez, Brian Wilson, Barry Zito. Catchers (1): Molina. Infielders (7): Aurilia, Emmanuel Burriss, Travis Ishikawa, Edgar Renteria, Sandoval, Juan Uribe, Velez. Outfielders (5): Fred Lewis, Aaron Rowand, Nate Schierholtz, Torres, Randy Winn.
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.