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Two Giants relievers making a ‘push’ while a third is getting stalled

Dany Jimenez. Brad Martens / San Francisco Giants

One week out from Opening Day, the Giants’ bullpen cloud is beginning to clear. Though because of the sheer number of possibilities and innings that will need to be eaten, some murkiness will remain all season.

Carlos Navas, a non-roster invite to camp who was a standout in February and March, again impressed Wednesday and made a strong case to be on the team. Rule 5 pick Dany Jimenez has shown more than enough to justify his 40-man spot, and has begun charging at a 30-man, Opening Day spot. Their paths have gotten slightly easier, as Trevor Cahill, long expected to be a part of the team right from the start, has been dealing with a fingernail issue that has not cleared up a week before the Giants head to Los Angeles.

It was not Navas’ intrasquad domination that surprised at Oracle Park but its length. The 27-year-old former A’s prospect had been making one-inning appearances in camp 1.0 after a minor league career in which he mostly relieved but occasionally started. He went 2 1/3 innings while striking out five with a walk and a(n infield) hit.

Gabe Kapler put the righty from Venezuela in the “bulk-inning reliever” category.

“I think the way that I would describe Carlos right now is dependable and professional, predictable,” the manager said over Zoom. “And I think you need pieces like that in your bullpen. I think you need pieces like that where the staff and his teammates really believe in him on a on a major league roster. So he’s making a nice push.”

As is Jimenez, another hard-throwing righty who has emerged leading up to the season’s start. With a hard four-seam fastball and a curveball they’ve been working on consistently dropping in for strikes, Jimenez has shown flashes since coming over from Toronto, but rawness, too.

The 26-year-old threw a pair of innings Wednesday and looked overpowering at times. He allowed a hit to Abiatal Avelino, but promptly picked him off, and made prized prospect Marco Luciano look like, well, an 18-year-old.

“His last two outings were more encouraging than any of the outings we saw in the first spring training,” Kapler said of the reliever who will have to stick on the 40-man all season, a task easier to complete this year. “So it’s really encouraging to see his velocity begin to come back, some of the swing-and-miss and strikeouts come back. … Dany has shown well his last two outings and is making a nice push.”

The Giants will have their options to choose from, but Cahill, a rare veteran in the mix, likely won’t be one at the onset. The Giants hope to rely on the 32-year-old as another bulk-innings pitcher who could piggyback off a starter and go two or three frames. But his fingernail is still an issue, and he no longer has much time to ramp up.

“It’s a little tender when he plays catch,” Kapler said. “Obviously no long-term concerns when it comes to a nail-bed issue, but at the same time it’s getting down to that time where building up volume and innings is really important. … We gotta get him throwing again, and we can’t do that until he’s comfortable throwing, and we’re not quite there yet.”

Brandon Belt swung in the cage and took some ground balls at first, Kapler said. The next steps will be running inside and then running outside. His status for Opening Day is still unknown.

After making contact, Hunter Pence ran to first — not particularly hard, but he was in motion. He’s been dealing with “mild” right foot pain that has kept him from running and still allowed him to take at-bats.

Pablo Sandoval, whose weight has been a topic of conversation, looked smooth at first base in jumping and corralling an errant throw from Navas.

The Giants officially announced Sacramento will be their taxi squad home.


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