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Inbox: Who starts in the OF on Opening Day?

Beat reporter Maria Guardado answers questions from fans
@mi_guardado
March 1, 2020

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The flip of the calendar to March means the Giants are less than a month away from playing their regular-season opener against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The club’s Opening Day roster has yet to come fully into focus, however, as there are still plenty of position

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- The flip of the calendar to March means the Giants are less than a month away from playing their regular-season opener against the Dodgers in Los Angeles. The club’s Opening Day roster has yet to come fully into focus, however, as there are still plenty of position battles left to be sorted out over the final weeks of exhibition play. We’ll cover some of your most pressing questions about the outlook for 2020 in this week’s Giants Inbox:

Even though just a few Spring Training games are in the books, who looks to be the frontrunners for the starting OF positions on Opening Day?

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The outfield remains difficult to project at this point. Assuming they’re healthy, I would expect Mike Yastrzemski, Alex Dickerson and Hunter Pence to be on the Giants’ Opening Day roster, with the latter two likely forming a platoon in left field. That leaves one or two openings for the rest of the outfielders in camp, a group that includes non-roster invitee Billy Hamilton, Jaylin Davis, Steven Duggar, Austin Slater, Chris Shaw and possibly Mauricio Dubón, who is getting looks in center field this spring.

Hamilton is intriguing because of his elite speed and defense, but I think he’ll have to show that he’s capable of handling the bat better than he has in recent years to break camp with the Giants. Davis is already being tapped as a potential breakout candidate for 2020, but the Giants might be inclined to start him at Triple-A Sacramento to give him the chance to play every day. I think Slater also has a good shot at making the team, as he posted strong numbers against left-handed pitching last season and has the defensive versatility the Giants seem to be coveting this year.

Wondering about left-handed relievers. Anyone stand out besides Tony Watson (who looks like he will be sidelined for a bit)?

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I think Jarlin García is definitely someone to keep an eye on. The 27-year-old southpaw was claimed off waivers from the Marlins and is out of Minor League options, which could give him an edge in the wide-open bullpen competition. García has performed well so far, striking out three over two scoreless innings in his first two Cactus League appearances.

The Giants don’t seem overly concerned about Watson’s left shoulder tightness at this point, but if he’s unavailable for the beginning of the season, there could be an opening for another lefty, such as Andrew Suárez or Wandy Peralta, to make the club.

Will we see Marco Luciano in Cactus League games this spring?

--John C., Marin, Calif.

If manager Gabe Kapler gets his wish, yes.

“I hope so,” Kapler said when asked if Luciano could see Cactus League action this year. “That’s a call that we’ll make collaboratively as a team. If we get a chance to see Luciano at some point, that would be fantastic. If the timing isn’t right for him to get a look in this Major League camp, it’ll be another year.”

Luciano, an 18-year-old shortstop, is currently ranked the Giants’ No. 3 prospect, per MLB Pipeline, and has the potential to develop into the club’s first homegrown international star since Pablo Sandoval.

Do you foresee Farhan having the quick trigger on releasing players and signing players like he did at the beginning of last season?

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I think the Giants are entering this season with better organizational depth, so I wouldn’t expect there to be quite as much roster turnover early in the season as there was last year. As you might recall, the Giants started two rookies -- Connor Joe and Michael Reed -- in their outfield on Opening Day, but neither lasted more than eight games with the club. I would be surprised to see a similar scenario unfold in 2020.

That said, president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi has shown a tendency to constantly tinker with his roster, so I’m sure he’ll be monitoring the waiver wire and trade market and continue to make incremental upgrades wherever possible. It’s also worth noting that many of the Giants’ younger players have Minor League options remaining, so we’ll probably see a lot of movement between Triple-A Sacramento and the Majors this year.

Where did Shawon Dunston go?

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Dunston is no longer on the Major League coaching staff, but he remains with the organization as a special assistant to player development. With Dunston shifting to a new role, the Giants will have a new replay team in place for the 2020 season. Two baseball operations staffers -- Yo Miyamoto and Patrick Yount -- will be in the replay room to help the Giants make informed calls during games.

Maria Guardado covers the Giants for MLB.com. She previously covered the Angels from 2017-18. Follow her on Twitter.