LOS ANGELES — Through three games, the Giants had seen a lot from their staff. Fifteen pitchers used. Starting pitchers who more resembled openers. Bulk-inning relievers, as well as single-frame guys. Hope from Johnny Cueto and Logan Webb, struggles from Sam Coonrod and Dany Jimenez.
Before the Giants were set to conclude a series with the Dodgers, though, what they had not seen was Jeff Samardzija.
The presumed No. 2 starter has not appeared in a game, one of the many quiet mysteries around a team that is working to keep plans as confidential as possible. They want opponents to be as poorly prepared as possible, the only club that has been publicly withholding starting pitcher identities until game day.
Asked before Friday’s series finale if Samardzija could pitch in relief of Drew Smyly, Gabe Kapler offered, “I don’t have anything specific to report on Samardzija or anything to share on him right now.”
Which is not helpful for the types who are into sharing. A day prior, Kapler said that “everything is fine” with the 35-year-old righty, who is coming off a bounce-back season but one whose peripherals hinted at a regression this campaign.
On Saturday, Kapler called Samardzija “one of our best starters” and added that he is scheduled to start a game. Perhaps he means Tuesday’s home opener against the Padres, which is a different sort of honor this season without fans.
Or it could be Cueto, who would be pitching on normal rest because of Monday’s off day. If the start to the Giants’ season has taught anything, it is that Tuesday’s starter will not be known until Tuesday.
Samardzija has not been made available to media, and the old-fashioned innings eater is a curious fit with a team trying to maximize each inning and feature as many high-powered arms as possible.
Austin Slater was held out of the starting lineup against lefty Julio Urias a day after crashing into the left-field wall for a tremendous catch but suffering a right hip contusion. Kapler said the outfielder is “still sore.”
“I think we’re going to have to take a look at him right before game time to make any determination about his availability,” Kapler said over Zoom.
Infielder Yolmer Sanchez, who exited Tuesday’s exhibition game with the A’s with back stiffness “is coming along,” Kapler said. But the manager did not have any further update or know when (or if) Sanchez would join the team.
“He’s doing fine,” Kapler said.
Evan Longoria and Brandon Belt are eligible to return Thursday, and Kapler again said the pair “have a good chance to be ready for the Padres series.”
Among the Giants to kneel for the national anthem before the game: Kapler, Mauricio Dubon, Mike Yastrzemski, Jaylin Davis, Hunter Pence and Wandy Peralta.