La Stella to IL as SF sets Opening Day roster

April 7th, 2022

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants will kick off their 2022 campaign without another key bat.

Second baseman Tommy La Stella was placed on the 10-day injured list with right Achilles inflammation as the Giants officially set their 28-man Opening Day roster on Thursday morning. La Stella will join third baseman Evan Longoria (right index finger surgery) and outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. (left knee inflammation) on the IL, depriving San Francisco of three projected regulars as it prepares to host the Marlins on Friday.

With La Stella sidelined, the Giants opted to carry utility man Luke Williams and option Jason Vosler to Triple-A Sacramento. Tyler Beede, who is out of options, and left-hander Sam Long each earned spots on the pitching staff, giving the club two bulk-inning options to start the year. San Francisco also reassigned utility man Brett Auerbach and right-hander Carlos Martínez, leaving 15 pitchers and 13 position players.

Here's a breakdown of the Giants' 2022 Opening Day roster:

Catcher (2): Joey Bart, Curt Casali

The Giants will lean on a Bart-Casali pairing to help fill the significant void that was left behind the plate when Buster Posey unexpectedly announced his retirement in November. Bart, who has long been viewed as Posey's heir apparent, showed that he's ready to take the reins by batting .364 (8-for-22) with three home runs over nine Cactus League games this spring.

"I think we’re going to have Joey catch fairly regularly," manager Gabe Kapler said. "It doesn’t mean that Curt won’t catch fairly regularly, too. Curt has been exactly as we expected he’d be. A great leader, an excellent game caller. He’s had good at-bats. Joey has just established himself as a guy who I think we can depend on to run a good game. I think we can count on him to continue to improve and develop his relationships with our pitchers. And he’s been having good at-bats. Whereas before, we were kind of in a mode of kind of evaluating Joey’s readiness. I think we’re seeing that Joey is ready to step in and catch a substantial number of games this season."

First base (1): Brandon Belt

Belt was slowed by right knee inflammation for most of the spring, but he expressed confidence that he'd be ready for Opening Day and managed to achieve his goal. The longest-tenured Giant and self-appointed team captain, Belt is back for his 12th season in San Francisco after accepting a one-year, $18.4 million qualifying offer over the offseason.

Second base (1): Thairo Estrada

The injury to La Stella and the departure of Donovan Solano should create a big opportunity for Estrada, who impressed after logging an .813 OPS with seven home runs over 52 games last year. The 26-year-old Venezuelan looked ready to seize more of an everyday role this spring, when he hit .400 (10-for-25) with two homers over nine Cactus League games.

Shortstop (1): Brandon Crawford

The second-longest-tenured Giant behind Belt, Crawford placed fourth in National League MVP voting following his resurgent 2021 campaign. The 35-year-old veteran was rewarded with a two-year, $32 million extension last season, so he should remain a fixture in the Giants’ infield through at least 2023.

Third base (1): Wilmer Flores

Flores is likely to see substantial time at third base since Longoria is expected to miss six weeks after undergoing surgery to repair a ligament in his right index finger. Flores has historically crushed left-handed pitching (.803 OPS in 2021), but he held his own against righties (.771 OPS) last year, so he should play regularly while Longoria is out.

With Wade unavailable, Duggar could take on an expanded role and give the Giants a premium defender in center field. Pederson, a Bay Area native who signed a one-year, $6 million deal in mid-March, is the only newcomer in the group and should provide another left-handed power bat to deploy against right-handed pitching this year. Heliot Ramos, who is ranked the Giants’ No. 6 prospect by MLB Pipeline, opened the season at Triple-A Sacramento, but he could also join the outfield mix at some point this year.

Williams, who was acquired from the Phillies in exchange for prospect Will Toffey and cash considerations last month, ended up taking La Stella's spot and will give the Giants another versatile defender who can shift between the infield and outfield. Williams appeared at every position besides pitcher and catcher last year for the Phillies, but he said he feels most comfortable at third base, so he could help spell Flores at the hot corner while Longoria is out.

The Giants lost All-Star right-hander Kevin Gausman, but they managed to rebuild a promising rotation by re-signing DeSclafani and Wood and bringing in another pair of veteran starters in Rodón and Cobb. The 25-year-old Webb has been named the Opening Day starter and will anchor the staff, particularly after his breakthrough season last year. While the rotation appears set, the Giants made sure to create another layer of depth by signing potential swingman Jakob Junis and left-hander Matthew Boyd, who isn’t expected to be available until June as he recovers from flexor tendon surgery. Tyler Beede, Sam Long and Sean Hjelle could also factor into the rotation mix this year.

Beede had mixed results on the mound this spring and was called a "work in progress" by Kapler, but he appeared on the verge of a breakout before undergoing Tommy John surgery two years ago, so the Giants believe the former first-round Draft pick still has plenty of upside. The 28-year-old flashed his tantalizing potential by hitting 98 mph with his fastball in Cactus League games, but he'll have to stay in the zone more consistently to maintain his spot on the roster during the regular season.