Notes: No DH not a problem for Ruf

March 6th, 2021

PEORIA, Ariz. -- Despite all the challenges that the 2020 season presented, still described the pandemic-shortened campaign as his best experience in the big leagues.

"It was the first season I didn't get fired at any point or sent down, so that's always a positive," Ruf said prior to the Giants’ 9-3 loss to the Padres on Friday night at Peoria Sports Complex. “I feel like I had a very defined role and was able to play well in that role and help the team in the areas where I could help them.”

After spending the previous three seasons playing in South Korea, Ruf decided to come back to the United States last year and attempt to return to the Majors for the first time since 2016. He signed a Minor League deal with the Giants and ultimately carved out a significant role on the club, serving as a platoon bat in left field with Alex Dickerson.

The 34-year-old slugger emerged as a lefty killer and finished the season batting .276 with an .887 OPS and five home runs over 40 games, but he enters his second Spring Training with the Giants with something left to prove. With rosters set to shrink from 28 to 26 players and the universal designated hitter currently off the table, the Giants will have a harder time carrying a bat-first player like Ruf -- who is out of options -- on their roster this year.

Still, Ruf has been logging plenty of action in left field and first base in Cactus League games to show that he can be a capable defender for the Giants in 2021. Ruf was used sparingly at first last season, but he’s been drawing more reps there this spring to help fill in for Brandon Belt, who has been sidelined by an illness.

“I feel like I can fill a role on the team,” Ruf said. “I play a position, and I can help the team on both sides of the ball.”

Ruf is also trying to boost his case by showing that he can hit righties as well as lefties. He’s off to a good start, as he launched a two-run shot to left field off White Sox righty Connor Sadzeck on Thursday and added a single and a double off two Padres right-handers -- Emilio Pagán and Evan Miller, respectively -- on Friday.

While he’s still attempting to solidify his spot with the Giants, Ruf said he feels more comfortable now that he’s familiar with the organization, his teammates and the coaching staff. Manager Gabe Kapler said he’s noticed a more relaxed demeanor from Ruf this spring as well.

“We are seeing more comfort,” Kapler said. “I think that comfort shows up in the cage, in his conversations with the coaches, but also with his teammates. I think we see it around the bag at first base. His work in the outfield is obviously off to a good start. Independent of the amount of hits he's getting, he's gotten really high-quality at-bats.

“Ruf can really swing the bat,” he added. “He brings a whole lot to the table. He's especially instinctive at the plate. His swing is consistent.”

Casali debuts

New backstop made his Giants debut on Friday, catching three innings and finishing 1-for-2 with a double off Pagán in the fourth. Casali had been limited for the first couple of weeks of camp after undergoing surgery to remove the hamate bone from his left hand in December, but he said he’s now pain free.

“I’m out there just trying to get my feet wet today,” Casali said. “I thought it went pretty well. In terms of my hand, it feels like I don’t have a hamate bone, which is a good feeling.”

Casali, 32, is expected to serve as Buster Posey’s backup after signing a one-year, $1.5 million deal with the Giants in January.

Giants add Bour

The Giants on Friday announced that they’ve signed first baseman to a Minor League contract, though the deal did not include an invitation to Major League Spring Training. Bour, 32, is expected to report to Minor League camp on April 1.

A left-handed hitter, Bour has a career .794 OPS over parts of six Major League seasons with the Marlins, Phillies and Angels. He spent the 2020 campaign in Japan, where he posted a .768 OPS with 17 home runs over 102 games with the Hanshin Tigers of Nippon Professional Baseball.

Up next

Veteran right-hander Johnny Cueto will make his Cactus League debut on Saturday when the Giants host the Royals at Scottsdale Stadium at 12:05 p.m. PT. Tyler Rogers, Matt Wisler, Sam Selman, Wandy Peralta, Caleb Baragar, Trevor Gott and Luis González are also scheduled to pitch for San Francisco.