Question marks remain for Giants outfield

March 27th, 2019

SAN FRANCISCO -- Manager Bruce Bochy used a lineup Tuesday night that could very well be most of his starting lineup Thursday when the Giants open their regular season against the Padres at Petco Park.

The one exception was in the ninth spot, where opening day starter Madison Bumgarner would replace Pablo Sandoval, who was the designated hitter Tuesday against the A's in the final exhibition for both teams. The A's beat the Giants 4-2 in a game called after six innings because of rain.

If Bochy did throw a curve, it was playing in left field, with Steven Duggar in center and Gerardo Parra in right. was on the bench for the second game in a row.

Williamson, who has been the regular left fielder for most of the spring, last played Sunday in the opener of the Bay Bridge Series. He started in right and was 1-for-3, raising his spring training average to .237. But he's had just one homer and five RBIs in 22 games, despite leading the Giants in at-bats and plate appearances. He's walked twice and struck out 18 times.

Most of Williamson's work this spring has been in left -- 99 2/3 innings compared to 20 1/3 for Solarte. Not only that, Solarte hasn't played the outfield in the majors since 2014, when he was in left for a total of 40 innings over seven games with the Padres.

But desperate times call for desperate measures. And the Giants are desperate in the outfield, where they lack pop.

Solarte isn't going to win a Gold Glove, but if he can handle the position respectably, he could be the answer in left field. He hit just .226 last season for the Blue Jays, but his 17 homers in 122 games were more than any Giant hit last year.

"I'll play wherever they need me," Solarte said before Tuesday night's exhibition.

Solarte had a little trouble on a fly ball to left in the second inning off the bat of Mark Canha, allowing it to fall for an RBI double and the first run of the game. But two batters later, he made an over-the-shoulder, leaping catch on what turned into a sacrifice fly by former Giants catcher Nick Hundley.

Should Solarte win the job in left, there is a strong possibility Williamson begins the season at Triple-A Sacramento. That would allow the Giants to keep Connor Joe or Michael Reed, maybe both.

Joe and Reed were both acquired in the past week from the Reds and Twins, respectively. Joe might have the advantage if the Giants keep only one of them because he can play the outfield, first base and catch.