DeSclafani 'throwing hard and moving well' in post-surgery debut

Rogers twins pitch back to back; Pederson working at first base

March 4th, 2023

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Anthony DeSclafani didn’t miss a beat while making his long-awaited return to the mound on Friday afternoon at Scottsdale Stadium. 

In his first start since undergoing season-ending right ankle surgery last July, DeSclafani struck out three over two scoreless innings in the Giants’ 3-2 split-squad win over the Rockies. The 32-year-old right-hander sat between 93-94 mph with his fastball and retired six of the seven batters he faced, allowing only a two-out single to Elias Díaz, who benefited from a shift violation by the Giants in the second.

“I think, for the most part, I was obviously just out there trying to compete, throw strikes and feel good,” DeSclafani said. “That was the first thing. I think having the results there for the first outing was just a plus. I felt like the ball was coming out of my hand well. I thought the shapes were there. I was throwing stuff for strikes. I was feeling like I was able to compete with all my pitches. I just kind of felt good.”  

DeSclafani struck out three Rockies regulars -- Charlie Blackmon, C.J. Cron and Ryan McMahon -- in a row, channeling the form that resulted in a career-best 3.17 ERA over 31 starts for the Giants in 2021. 

“That looked like him at his best in 2021,” manager Gabe Kapler said. “He looked like him at his best prior to the injury, so I feel good about his performance today. I feel good about the strike throwing, the ability to get in the zone with all of his pitches. He’s throwing hard and moving well.”

The Giants re-signed DeSclafani to a three-year, $36 million deal following the 2021 season, but he couldn’t overcome the nagging right ankle issue last year, going 0-2 with a 6.63 ERA over five starts before undergoing surgery to repair the peroneal tendon on the outside of the joint. 

“I just wasn’t able to stay on the backside and push off,” DeSclafani said. “I was coming off early. I think it affected it a lot. It’s feeling good now. I really haven’t made any tweaks, other than being able to stay within my delivery and be myself. Everything’s kind of come back to what it needs to be.”  

With seven capable starters on the club's projected roster, DeSclafani will have to stay healthy and continue to perform to lock up his spot in the starting rotation, but the Giants have certainly been encouraged by what they’ve seen thus far. 

“I felt pretty in control,” DeSclafani said. “Once I knew it was go-time and compete mode, I just reverted back to what I’ve always done and what I remember.”

Twin brothers Tyler Rogers and Taylor Rogers have been inseparable at Giants camp, sharing adjacent lockers and serving as each other’s catch partners before workouts at Scottsdale Stadium. The relievers had been expected to make their spring debuts together earlier this week, but those plans were squashed after Tyler suffered a paper cut on his finger.

The Rogers brothers finally got their first chance to pitch in the same game for the Giants on Friday. Tyler worked a scoreless third against the Rockies before being relieved by Taylor, who struck out two in a scoreless fourth.  

“It was pretty cool,” Tyler said. “I was probably more excited to watch him. I was thinking about watching him while I was pitching.” 

“I wish my vocab was bigger so I could accurately describe it,” Taylor added.

First for Joc
The Giants deployed Joc Pederson at first base for the first time this spring, marking the 30-year-old slugger’s first appearance at the position since his ill-fated experiment there with the Dodgers in 2019. Pederson played six innings at first and looked comfortable, though he missed an errant pick-off attempt from Tyler Rogers in the third.

“It was a bad throw,” Tyler acknowledged. “It’s my responsibility to put the ball to his chest.”

Pederson is expected to serve as the Giants’ primary designated hitter in 2023, but he’s been diligently taking grounders at first base to give the club more left-handed options there. 

“He’s in a good space mentally,” Kapler said. “He’s worked really hard at first. He has a really good understanding of his mechanics right now. There’s nothing like the game action, so I think what’s exciting is he’s going to be put in all those situations. … It’ll be a good test for him.”

Worth noting
Left-hander Sean Manaea started the Giants’ 11-7 split-squad loss against Bruce Bochy’s Rangers at Surprise Stadium on Friday, and he allowed three runs on four hits over 2 2/3 innings in his second appearance of the spring. Catcher Blake Sabol went 1-for-2 with a double to lift his batting average to .556 (5-for-9) through his first four Cactus League games.