Notes: Lineup set for spring opener; Ruf returns

February 21st, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- With heavy rain in the forecast for Saturday, it remains to be seen whether the Giants will be able to take the field as scheduled for their Cactus League opener against the Dodgers at 12:05 p.m. PT at Scottsdale Stadium.

Should the game take place, right-hander is slated to start for the Giants and pitch two innings, but he could end up being pushed back to Sunday if the game is rained out. The same goes for the rest of the Giants’ lineup, which manager Gabe Kapler tentatively announced on Friday:

Outfielders Billy Hamilton, Chris Shaw and Drew Robinson and catchers Joey Bart and Chadwick Tromp are also penciled in to play in the first game. Shortstop Brandon Crawford is not expected to appear in the first two Cactus League games, as he continues to recover from flu-like symptoms.

Kapler said he plans to use an entirely different lineup for the Giants’ second game, noting that no players will play in back-to-back games during the first week of Cactus League action.

Notes from live BP
Right-handers Jeff Samardzija, Kevin Gausman and Trevor Cahill were among the pitchers to throw live batting practice at Scottsdale Stadium on Friday. Kapler said he was impressed with Samardzija’s splitter and his overall mound presence.

“I thought his split looked really good,” Kapler said. “In particular, he was able to execute it for a strike and then below the zone as well. [Mike Yastrzemski] mentioned how good he thought his cutter was. It had some good, late break to it. Just a confident package out there on the mound. In rhythm and synced up.”

Gausman, meanwhile, used his live BP session to work on his curveball, which he has been tweaking under the direction of the Giants’ new pitching coaches.

“I think what stood out about Gausman’s live BP session today was the movement on his breaking ball,” Kapler said. “It's a pitch that our pitching coaches are working hard on him with to get the shape the way we want it, and he came out firing with that pitch today.”

Ruf returns stateside
First baseman/outfielder Darin Ruf has flown under the radar since signing a Minor League deal with the Giants last month, but he could be an intriguing non-roster invitee to watch after putting up big numbers with the Korea Baseball Organization’s Samsung Lions over the past three seasons. The Lions purchased Ruf’s contract from the Dodgers in 2017 and watched the 33-year-old slash .313/.404/.564 with 86 home runs over 1,756 career plate appearances in the KBO.

“I think the biggest challenge is in trusting yourself, so when you come back here, the good work that you did over there will translate,” Kapler said. “Ruf was exceptionally productive in Korea, and understanding that that very good offensive profile works well here as well is probably the confidence that is necessary for him to bring to the table.”