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Giants' Opening Day roster will be tested

MLB.com @sfgiantsbeat

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants approach the 60th anniversary of their inaugural season in San Francisco focused not on making fresh history, but on surviving.

Injuries to three key pitchers -- Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith and Jeff Samardzija -- could hamper the Giants in the early going. They'll try to hover around the .500 mark with a revitalized offense that includes newcomers Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen and Austin Jackson.

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SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants approach the 60th anniversary of their inaugural season in San Francisco focused not on making fresh history, but on surviving.

Injuries to three key pitchers -- Madison Bumgarner, Will Smith and Jeff Samardzija -- could hamper the Giants in the early going. They'll try to hover around the .500 mark with a revitalized offense that includes newcomers Evan Longoria, Andrew McCutchen and Austin Jackson.

View Full Game Coverage

The Giants should get an accurate early read at how they stack up in the division race. They'll play 23 of their first 31 games against National League West foes, including 10 against the archrival Los Angeles Dodgers.

Projected Opening Day lineup
1. Jackson, CF
2. Brandon Belt, 1B
3. McCutchen, RF
4. Buster Posey, C
5. Longoria, 3B
6. Hunter Pence, LF
7. Brandon Crawford, SS
8. Joe Panik, 2B
9. Ty Blach, P

Video: TEX@SF: Panik launches a leadoff homer to right

Key roles
• Leadoff -- Manager Bruce Bochy likely will employ a platoon that features Panik facing right-handers and Jackson confronting left-handed starters, at least to begin the season. This assumes -- and it's still an assumption -- that left-handed-batting Steven Duggar begins the season in Triple-A.

• Set-up relief -- Though roles will become more defined after the season's first few weeks, expect Sam Dyson, Hunter Strickland and Tony Watson to be asked to record the truly big outs in the seventh and eighth innings.

• Closer -- This is Mark Melancon's job, though Bochy won't hesitate to consider alternatives if the right-hander struggles to open the season. Any of the aforementioned three relievers would be leading options to replace Melancon.

Video: KC@SF: Melancon gets O'Hearn looking in the 7th

Injury updates
• Bumgarner -- The would-be Opening Day starter had three pins inserted into his fractured left hand last Saturday and is expected to be shelved for a minimum of six to eight weeks.

• Samardzija -- Nursing a strained right pectoral muscle, he'll likely rest for 10 days before he resumes throwing. The right-hander probably will need at least a couple of weeks after that to rebuild his arm strength.

• Smith -- Completing his recovery from Tommy John elbow surgery, Smith is expected to join the Giants on or around May 1.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for MLB.com since 2007. Follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast.

San Francisco Giants