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Inbox: Any surprises to open season with Giants?

Beat reporter Haft answers fans' questions
MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

What are the chances of someone like Ricky Romero or Kyle Blanks making the Opening Day roster? Also, is there any rookie who might be a surprise to open the season with the Giants?
-- Mike V., Tucson, Ariz.

Blanks conceivably could be this year's Justin Maxwell. He might not be as proficient of a defensive outfielder as Maxwell, but his ability to play first base makes him more versatile. Romero or any other starting pitcher will struggle to make the season-opening rotation, unless somebody in San Francisco's projected five-man contingent (Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy) sustains an injury that sends him to the disabled list.

What are the chances of someone like Ricky Romero or Kyle Blanks making the Opening Day roster? Also, is there any rookie who might be a surprise to open the season with the Giants?
-- Mike V., Tucson, Ariz.

Blanks conceivably could be this year's Justin Maxwell. He might not be as proficient of a defensive outfielder as Maxwell, but his ability to play first base makes him more versatile. Romero or any other starting pitcher will struggle to make the season-opening rotation, unless somebody in San Francisco's projected five-man contingent (Madison Bumgarner, Johnny Cueto, Jeff Samardzija, Matt Cain and Jake Peavy) sustains an injury that sends him to the disabled list.

Outfield candidates Mac Williamson and Jarrett Parker are rookies; at this point, Williamson's presence on the Opening Day roster would be more of a surprise than Parker's, given all those home runs the latter hit last September. However, either one will have to force his way into a bench role by excelling almost nonstop during Cactus League play.

Video: Must C Classic: Parker puts on impressive display

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The Giants already have a long reliever, and he is Tim Lincecum. Give him and Juan Uribe one-year contracts for $1 million each with performance incentives. Uribe can play third base, shortstop and second base. This is not brain surgery, guys.
-- Dan S., East Moline, Ill.

Constructing a roster must not be as complex as operating on an aneurysm, because I had the same thought about Uribe. He'd be ideal to insert in the lineup if one of the regular infielders needed a rest, particularly down the stretch. Additionally, manager Bruce Bochy could send Uribe to the plate with confidence in any pinch-hitting situation. However, I was advised not to expect an Uribe signing. This came from somebody who's in a position to know about player personnel.

Hot Stove Tracker

As for Lincecum, he might indeed have to perform in relief, long or otherwise, to reacclimate himself to pitching. But I doubt that he'll sign with a team that won't ultimately give him a chance to start. Right now, the Giants can't make that promise.

What is the Giants' position on instituting the designated hitter in the National League?
-- Keith B., Sunnyvale, Calif.

Bochy doesn't speak for the entire organization, but he dislikes the DH. As a manager, he appreciates the strategic demands necessitated by having the pitcher in the batting order, such as deciding whether to play for a big inning or one run and focusing more actively on when and how to use the bullpen. Moreover, as an "old school" baseball aficionado, Bochy simply just doesn't like the DH. As Smokey Robinson and The Miracles sang years before the DH was conceived, I second that emotion.

Video: The guys on MLB Now debate the NL DH

I just finished scanning the list of MLB.com's Top 100 Prospects. The Giants had only one individual on that list, infielder Christian Arroyo. By comparison, I noticed that the Dodgers had five, including two in the top five overall. That pair featured Corey Seager, the player who many consider baseball's No. 1 prospect. Is the Giants' Minor League system depleted of prospects, or are some of them being overlooked?
-- James J., San Antonio

Let's see. The Giants won the World Series in 2010 while employing an entirely homegrown starting rotation during the postseason. In '14, an all-homegrown infield helped propel them to their third World Series triumph in five seasons. Giants prospects received a similar lack of attention from the experts as this stretch approached.

But just how barren can the farm system be? I maintain genuine respect for my counterparts who compose these prospect lists. They do a tremendous and thorough amount of homework. But I'd wager that even these wise scribes would admit that their rankings shed little or no light on which players possess an essential quality: heart. If that were measurable, where would the likes of Joe Panik, Sergio Romo and Ryan Vogelsong (originally a Giants draftee) rank?

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.

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