SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Officially, the Giants' 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Friday's Cactus League opener meant nothing. Unofficially, the decision can allow the Giants to imagine that they'll be more resilient this season.Chris Marrero, a non-roster invitee, lined a three-run, ninth-inning homer to erase the Giants' 4-3 deficit
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Officially, the Giants' 6-4 victory over the Cincinnati Reds in Friday's Cactus League opener meant nothing. Unofficially, the decision can allow the Giants to imagine that they'll be more resilient this season.
Chris Marrero, a non-roster invitee, lined a three-run, ninth-inning homer to erase the Giants' 4-3 deficit and address one of their faults still lingering from 2016. San Francisco performed lifelessly a year ago when trailing entering the ninth inning, compiling an 0-62 record in those situations.
Of course, until the Giants launch a similar rally in the regular season, this demon won't officially be exorcised. At least Marrero, widely considered as a peripheral contender in the left-field competition, intensified his bid to be considered more seriously for a spot on the Opening Day roster.
"I want to make a name for myself," said Marrero, 28. "I feel like it's time to establish myself. I feel ready."
Marrero should feel that way. Washington selected him in the first round of the 2006 Draft (15th overall). But he advanced haltingly through the Nationals' system and appeared in only 39 Major League games in 2011 and 2013.
Last year, Marrero smashed a career-high 23 homers for Pawtucket, Boston's Triple-A affiliate. Hungry for power hitting, the Giants signed Marrero almost immediately after he entered free agency.
Marrero's hoping to join the list of non-roster invitees who found a big league home with the Giants in recent years, including outfielders Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres and right-hander Guillermo Mota. Being able to play both outfield corners as well as first base could help Marrero achieve his goal.
"You always hear good things about San Fran," Marrero said. "They've had a lot of Minor League free agents establish themselves here."
Indicating that he'd accept an assignment to Triple-A Sacramento if necessary, he added, "If I don't get my shot here, hopefully I can get it during the season. I'm fighting here to make this team."
He improved his odds in the ninth after Orlando Calixte walked and Christian Arroyo blooped a single. Marrero, a right-handed batter, slammed a hard slider from Kevin Shackelford over the left-field barrier.
"I felt good on that swing," Marrero said. "You gotta cherish these moments."
Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.