Slowed by foot, Longoria at DH in 1st game

March 7th, 2021

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- A foot issue has delayed 's spring debut at third base, but the 35-year-old saw his first Cactus League action at designated hitter in the Giants’ 8-6 loss to the Royals at Scottsdale Stadium on Saturday afternoon.

Longoria enjoyed a good start at the plate, as he delivered a three-run double to left-center field off Royals left-hander Kris Bubic, capping the Giants’ four-run rally in the third inning. Longoria is being slow-played on defense because of plantar fasciitis, which he’s dealt with in the past, but he didn’t sound overly concerned about the malady.

“Hopefully, we’ve got it taken care of,” Longoria said. “We’re just easing into it. It’s not a big deal. It’s just something that we’re going to have to deal with.”

Longoria has been taking ground balls at third base, and manager Gabe Kapler said he believes his former Rays teammate still has plenty of time to ramp up defensively this spring.

“I don’t see it as a rush to get him in games at third base,” Kapler said. “What we really want him to do is get his timing and rhythm down.”

Longoria opened the 2020 season on the injured list due to an oblique issue, and the Giants struggled to find a reliable backup at third base, where Wilmer Flores and Donovan Solano were miscast defensively. They have better options behind Longoria this year after bringing in Tommy La Stella and Jason Vosler on Major League deals over the offseason.

Longoria, who is entering his fourth season with the Giants, said he’s looking forward to hitting behind La Stella and Mike Yastrzemski, who are expected to be fixtures atop San Francisco’s lineup and are known for their ability to grind out at-bats and wear out opposing pitchers.

“Those guys are going to do that all year,” Longoria said. “I think we’re going to have a lot of guys on in front of us, which puts pressure on the pitchers and hopefully makes them make mistakes.

“This is probably the best lineup that we’ve had, for sure, top to bottom. I think last year we showed that we can be a good offensive group, and I think we’ve added to that this year. The expectations are pretty high for ourselves internally here.”

Día de Cueto
Right-hander made his first start of the spring on Saturday, striking out four over two scoreless innings. Cueto, who allowed only a one-out double to Jorge Soler in the second, hit 94 mph with his fastball and flashed his signature changeup while working well with catcher Buster Posey.

“Johnny did a nice job mixing his pitches, mixing his tempo like he always does, attacking the strike zone,” Kapler said. “Two quick, solid, professional innings.”

Cueto said he was pleased with the outing, but he added that he still has to refine his pitches before the start of the regular season on April 1. The 35-year-old started for the Giants on Opening Day last year, but fellow righty Kevin Gausman could be the favorite to draw the assignment this season as a result of Cueto’s inconsistency in 2020.

“I feel good,” Cueto said in Spanish. “I’m going to keep working. There’s still time left to get ready.”

Worth noting
• Outfielder Jaylin Davis started in right field in his spring debut and went 1-for-2 with an RBI single off Bubic in the third. Davis had been bothered by knee soreness earlier this spring, but he said the discomfort dissipated over the past few days.

• Left-hander Caleb Baragar, who is being stretched out this spring, was scheduled to pitch in Saturday’s game, but he was scratched with “mild soreness” in his hamstring. Kapler said Baragar will likely be sidelined for five to seven days.

Up next
Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani will make his Giants debut against his former club, the Reds, on Sunday at Goodyear Ballpark at 12:05 p.m. PT, live on MLB.TV. Right-hander Noé Ramirez is scheduled to start for Cincinnati. Jake McGee, Zack Littell, Dominic Leone, Yunior Marte, Sam Long and Camilo Doval are also expected to pitch for San Francisco.