The Giants finalized their 26-man Opening Day roster ahead of their season opener against the Mariners on Thursday at T-Mobile Park.
As expected, the Giants placed left-hander Alex Wood (lower back strain) on the 10-day injured list, retroactive to March 29. Wood, 30, had been projected to be part of the starting rotation, but he is on the mend after undergoing an ablation procedure to treat back stiffness last month.
The Giants have been encouraged by Wood’s progression thus far, as he’s already resumed throwing bullpen sessions and facing hitters in live batting practice.
“Every time he goes out there and he plays catch, he’s saying, ‘Hey, this is the right move for me, I feel strong, I feel ready,’” manager Gabe Kapler said Wednesday. “It’s going to be a bit before he’s on our Major League roster, but he’s doing very well. Every step of the way is going smoothly.”
The biggest omission from the Opening Day roster was right-hander Nick Tropeano, who was among the final round of roster cuts on Tuesday. Tropeano, 30, joined the Giants on a Minor League deal in February and appeared well positioned to earn a spot in the bullpen after logging a 2.70 ERA over six Cactus League appearances.
“Tropeano had a great camp,” Kapler said. “He demonstrated multiple things. Number one, he's got weapons to get Major League hitters out. Number two, he can provide some length for us when we need it. And number three, there's no situation that is really going to be big for him because he has a real easy heartbeat out there on the mound. It was a difficult decision and not the easiest conversation letting him know that he wasn't going to be on our Opening Day roster, but I feel pretty confident he's going to make an impact for us this year.”
Tropeano did make the trip to Seattle, though, as he joined right-hander Trevor Gott, left-hander Conner Menez, catcher Chadwick Tromp and outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. on the Giants’ five-man taxi squad.
Here’s a breakdown of the Giants’ 2021 Opening Day roster:
Catcher (2): Buster Posey, Curt Casali
Thursday will mark Posey’s first Major League game since Sept. 29, 2019, as he sat out the 2020 campaign due to COVID-19 concerns. The return of Posey and the addition of Casali will give the Giants a pair of veteran backstops who will be able to provide much-needed stability and guidance for the pitching staff.
“They see everything,” right-hander Logan Webb said. “I think that’s why those guys are so special.”
First base (1): Brandon Belt
Belt was a major question mark after undergoing right heel surgery in October and missing the beginning of camp with mononucleosis, but he progressed quickly after regaining his strength over the last few weeks. He logged only nine plate appearances during Cactus League action, but the Giants are confident he’ll be ready to go on Thursday.
Second base (1): Donovan Solano
Solano is likely eager for the regular season to begin, as he swung a hot bat all spring and finished exhibition play hitting .421 with a 1.187 OPS and three home runs over 15 games.
Third base (1): Evan Longoria
Longoria appeared in only two Cactus League games at third base due to plantar fasciitis, but the Giants are happy with his defensive build-up and feel he’ll be ready to play nine innings on the field during the regular season. Longoria has dealt with plantar fasciitis in the past and he acknowledged that it’ll be a condition he’ll likely have to manage during the regular season.
“It's probably not something that's going to go away,” Longoria said. “It'll be there, and it'll just be about managing it.”
Shortstop (1): Brandon Crawford
Crawford is slated to make his 10th consecutive Opening Day start on Thursday, joining Willie Mays, Barry Bonds and Robby Thompson as the only Giants players to accomplish the feat. More milestones are likely ahead for Crawford, who is only 53 games away from surpassing Hall of Famer Travis Jackson’s franchise mark for most games at shortstop.
“It's a huge honor,” Crawford said. “I think getting any Opening Day start is an honor, but 10 in a row is pretty special. You start looking at some of the names that have gotten 10 straight Opening Day starts, and it's pretty crazy to see yourself next to some of those names.”
Outfield (5): Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson, Mauricio Dubón, Austin Slater, Darin Ruf
The Giants’ outfield should once again be a strength of the club and will be headlined by Yastrzemski, who placed eighth in National League MVP Award voting following his outstanding sophomore campaign in the Majors last year. Slater looks ready to take another step forward, too, as he finished Cactus League play with a team-high 1.328 OPS and four home runs over 12 games. Dubón showed off his improved plate discipline by drawing a team-high 10 walks this spring and should be one of the most important players on the roster, as he’s projected to start in center field and is also the club’s top option to back up Crawford at shortstop.
Utility (2): Tommy La Stella, Wilmer Flores
La Stella will likely settle in as the Giants’ primary leadoff man against right-handed pitching and should help provide more coverage behind Longoria at third, though he could also see time at second and first base. The equally versatile Flores will likely draw most of his starts against lefties after posting a .975 OPS with seven home runs against them in 2020.
Starting pitchers (5): Kevin Gausman, Johnny Cueto, Logan Webb, Anthony DeSclafani, Aaron Sanchez
Webb enjoyed the best camp of any Giants this spring and secured a spot in the rotation after logging a 0.53 ERA with 22 strikeouts and two walks over 17 innings in five Cactus League starts. The Giants had an opening in their rotation following Wood’s setback, but the 30-year-old lefty has resumed throwing and likely won’t be shelved for long, so it will be interesting to see how the Giants set up their starting staff when he’s back to full health.
Relievers (8): Jake McGee, Matt Wisler, Jarlín García, José Álvarez, Tyler Rogers, Reyes Moronta, Wandy Peralta, Caleb Baragar
The Giants had praised the performance of Tropeano, Dominic Leone and Zack Littell this spring, but they ultimately chose not to clear spots on the 40-man roster to add any NRIs to their Opening Day roster. Peralta and Baragar have options remaining, but they now appear to have secured spots in the bullpen, meaning the Giants will likely have five lefties and three righties (Wisler, Rogers and Moronta) in their relief corps to start the season. It’s an unusual mix of relievers, but the Giants feel their lefty-heavy bullpen will pair well with their rotation, which currently features five right-handers.