The Giants’ latest round of roster cuts included a surprise name in Jason Vosler, a versatile infielder who appeared to be making a push for a spot on the Opening Day roster this spring.
Vosler was among six players who were optioned or reassigned to Minor League camp before Wednesday night’s 7-3 win over the Padres at Scottsdale Stadium. Left-hander Sam Selman and four non-roster invitees -- right-handers Silvino Bracho and Rico Garcia, lefty Phil Pfeifer and outfielder Joe McCarthy -- were also cut, trimming the number of players in big league camp from 42 to 36 with one week to go until Opening Day.
Vosler, 27, joined the Giants on a Major League deal in November and impressed by batting .304 (14-for-46) with four doubles and one triple over 16 Cactus League games. The left-handed hitter primarily plays the corner infield, making him an option to provide coverage behind first baseman Brandon Belt (right heel surgery) and third baseman Evan Longoria (plantar fasciitis), who have been slowed by injuries this spring.
Still, the Giants signed a more experienced player, Tommy La Stella, with a similar skillset this offseason, making Vosler somewhat redundant for the 26-man roster. Manager Gabe Kapler said the Giants also thought Vosler still had work to do to improve his strikeout-to-walk ratio, as he drew only two walks and whiffed 14 times in 49 plate appearances this spring.
“I think he understood the landscape pretty well,” Kapler said. “You guys know the landscape pretty well, the infielders and corner outfielders we have. It’s a tough group to crack. We discussed some of the improvements he’s made with his swing, some of the quality of contact, but also the fact that he’s still having difficulty drawing walks, and he struck out a bit. He called that out and understood that that’s something that he has to continue to work on.”
The Giants’ decision to option Vosler could signal their optimism that Longoria and Belt will be available for Opening Day. Longoria has yet to play third base in Cactus League action, but he’s been taking at-bats at designated hitter and has expressed confidence that he’ll be ready for the April 1 opener in Seattle. Belt made his Cactus League debut as a pinch-hitter on Wednesday and is expected to be in the starting lineup against the Brewers on Thursday.
Alternatively, the move could bode well for outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr., another left-handed hitter who has been drawing looks in center field and first base this spring.
Wade, who was acquired from the Twins in exchange for right-hander Shaun Anderson, was batting .206 (7-for-34) with one home run and two stolen bases over 13 Cactus League games, but Kapler has praised his approach and the quality of his at-bats. Wade, 27, said he made some tweaks to his swing and is still working on getting comfortable with the adjustments.
“I feel like it’s coming,” Wade said Monday. “I’ve been working hard in the cages with the new move that’s been going on. I know I haven’t really been getting the results that I like, but I’m still coming in every day with the mindset to get better each and every day and master my move and get comfortable with it.”
Bracho, 28, is coming off Tommy John surgery and was a little inconsistent this spring, allowing four runs over 7 1/3 innings (4.91 ERA) with 12 strikeouts in seven relief appearances. The Giants still have several other right-handed relievers who are vying for spots in their bullpen this spring, including non-roster invitees Nick Tropeano, Dominic Leone and James Sherfy.
Garcia won’t be part of that mix, as he is scheduled to undergo Tommy John surgery to repair a torn ulnar collateral ligament in his right elbow on Saturday in San Francisco.
After missing the beginning of camp with a bout of mononucleosis, Belt saw his first game action of the spring on Wednesday, striking out on three pitches in a pinch-hit appearance against Padres right-hander Keone Kela in the sixth.
“Physically, I feel good,” Belt said. “At the plate, I feel godawful. Hopefully that’ll change pretty soon.”
Belt’s illness, which came on the heels of a COVID-19 diagnosis in January, sapped him of energy and left him bedridden for seven to eight days, but he said he’s finally felt back to normal in recent weeks. Does he believe he has enough time to be ready for Opening Day?
“I'm not 100 percent sure,” Belt said. “If I can get into a lot of games, I think that's going to put me pretty close. We'll see. I think we just have to gauge how everything feels after I play and take it from there. As of right now, I feel good. I'm ready to get out in the field and ready to start some baseball games and build up some stamina so I can be ready for Opening Day.”
Donovan Solano, Mike Yastrzemski, Austin Slater and Joey Bart homered to carry the Giants’ offense on Wednesday. Solano and Yastrzemski delivered solo shots off Dinelson Lamet and Adrian Morejón, respectively, while Slater added a two-run homer to the opposite field off Kela. Bart also flashed his opposite-field power with a solo homer to right field off Mason Thompson in the eighth.
Solano, 33, won his first career Silver Slugger Award at second base last season and has said that one of his goals is to hit for more power this year. He’s off to a good start, as his three home runs this spring match his total from 54 regular-season games last year. Overall, Solano is batting a team-high .452 (14-for-31) with two strikeouts over 12 exhibition games.
“I’m a player that puts the ball in play a lot,” Solano said in Spanish on Tuesday. “I don’t strike out a lot. I know the strikeouts are coming, it’s part of the game, but I’m trying to cut down on them. I’m looking for more extra-base hits. Right now, I’m hitting a few more home runs in Spring Training, so I’m very happy with how everything has gone so far.”
Right-hander Anthony DeSclafani threw 78 pitches and pitched into the fifth inning in his third Cactus League start on Wednesday. DeSclafani held the Padres’ talented lineup to a solo home run by Wil Myers while walking one and striking out eight over four-plus innings.
“I felt good about everything,” DeSclafani said. “I was pleased with the way the outing went. I had to work out of some things, but I thought I threw well. I threw everything for a strike for the most part, so I was happy with it.”
Right-hander Aaron Sanchez will make his second Cactus League start on Thursday when the Giants host the Brewers at Scottsdale Stadium at 7:05 p.m. PT. Left-hander Brett Anderson is scheduled to start for Milwaukee. Listen to the game live on MLB Audio.