After the 29 other teams formally announced their summer camp/spring training 2.0/player pool that will attempt to play baseball through a pandemic, the Giants made it official late Monday morning.
Last but not least — though they were close to least in terms of number of players. Their 51 announced slots leaves nine spots of wiggle room as they decide who should be added to the mix, trying to balance a run at contention in this 60-game season versus a focus on the future, with the possibility that if prospects are not at the satellite camp, they may miss an entire year of development.
Three prospects headlined the initial pool entry: Joey Bart, Heliot Ramos and Marco Luciano, the 18-year-old prized shortstop included to get everyday reps in practices. A fourth was expected to be there, but Hunter Bishop tested positive for COVID-19 on Friday, Farhan Zaidi said, adding the 2019 first-round pick has mild symptoms while isolating in Arizona, and they do not believe he had any contact with Giants players since contracting the virus. Bishop will wait two weeks and perhaps then can be added to the pool.
Forty-man members not initially included are Chris Shaw, Jandel Gustave, Enderson Franco, Kean Wong, Melvin Adon and Jose Siri. Of players and prospects who began in major league camp, not (yet) invited are Sean Hjelle, Cristhian Adames, Drew Robinson, Jake Jewell, Raffi Vizcaino, Sam Moll and Sam Wolff. Of the group, Shaw stands out as a former first-rounder, Gustave as a weapon last season, Wong for his left-handed bat at third base, Franco for impressing late last season and in spring training 1.0, and Hjelle, who is another prospect about whom the Giants will debate. He looked solid in camp but has appeared in just five games above High-A.
All 51 players are being asked to report to Oracle Park beginning Wednesday, when tests and temperatures will be taken, before Friday’s first practice. The Giants are trying to wring every ounce of available space out of their home turf, using both clubhouses and so many nooks around the field to find more space to train. Batting cages will be set up beyond center field, spacing out because of the dangers they only have to glance toward their No. 4 prospect to be reminded of. The players will arrive in three waves during the day, staggering so as not to congregate.
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The Giants expect their secondary camp will open in Sacramento, but details are still being finalized.
“There’s still some guys that we are talking through,” Zaidi said on a Zoom call minutes after the roster reveal. “… Particularly on the prospect front, there’s some guys that we’ve obviously named already. Other guys are under consideration, and we may just wind up adding certain guys once Sacramento is up and running and potentially send guys straight there. So it’s obviously a very fluid situation, and just because a guy isn’t on the preliminary list of 60 doesn’t mean they won’t be added.”
Gabe Kapler, in keeping in touch with his players, said he talked to 25 just on Sunday. He did not want to get into specifics about conversations with players who were left out of the pool, but word has been relayed to them that they may be needed.
“I think COVID is showing us that we need to be prepared for anything,” the manager said. “So we’ve talked to some of those players and asked them to stay ready in their hometowns.”
On many occasions, Zaidi, a perpetual deck-reshuffler, has praised the depth of the camp in February and March. The Giants have been happy with the crew they assembled, and while the front office always will have an eye on trades and transactions, it does not sound as if major moves are coming.
For months, there has been speculation the Giants would be among the interested parties in Yasiel Puig, for example. Zaidi, as is his wont, did not quash any talk of external upgrades, but signaled nothing is imminent.
“It wouldn’t surprise me if, as camp moves on, we get all the way up to 60 just on internal options,” Zaidi said. “Because we still have quite a few guys that we’re actively discussing.”
Everything about this season, from the backdrop to the stakes to the length to the empty stadiums to the expectations, is different. The Giants pride themselves, perhaps above all, on being able to adjust. And that includes adjusting from a season most felt would be about development to a season that, with 60 short games to play, will begin with San Francisco in a pennant race.
“We have a desire to be competitive this year,” Zaidi said. “It’s not just about 2021 and beyond.”