SCOTTSDALE — The Giants love LaMonte Wade Jr.’s plate approach.
A better understanding of his defensive game will come with time, but they also must love how he views his versatility.
“Honestly I feel comfortable in all three,” Wade said about the outfield spots on Wednesday. “From a defensive standpoint, I feel like I’m going to bring energy. I’ll be able to cover some ground out there and communicate with the guys. I look forward to getting out here with outfielders in game-like situations just to see how everybody is moving out there, how we can communicate and things like that.”
The Giants want their players to play just about everywhere, but it would really help the club if Wade can handle center.
San Francisco did not add a true center fielder this offseason, meaning Mauricio Dubon is returning as the best option after he looked solid at the position last year in his first stint as an outfielder. He still has not proven he can hit righty pitching consistently, though, so a lefty hitter to complement him would fit the roster well, and the Giants hope Wade can develop into that player.
The 27-year-old, traded from the Twins for Shaun Anderson earlier this month, has 42 games of major league experience the last two years without an extended chance. He’s played all three outfield spots, though the Giants have said they believe he projects better as a corner option than center fielder. They will hope he proves them wrong.
Gabe Kapler said he’ll give Wade a start in center in one of the first two spring training games, wanting an immediate glimpse at how the lefty hitter looks out there.
They already have some in their system who have seen him run around the outfield, though. New assistant pitching coach J.P. Martinez ran the Twins’ alternate site last year and was among the first calls to Wade after he learned of the trade. Wade and Jaylin Davis, who came up with Minnesota, connected over the phone, too, while non-roster invite Zack Littell texted him, too.
Wade called his first reaction to the trade “shock” before “excitement” set in. The ninth-round pick in 2015 had not gotten a long look and has a history of plate discipline that teams like the Giants crave, with a career .389 on-base percentage in the minors. With Alex Dickerson and Darin Ruf in left and Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater in right, there’s plenty of outfield competition but also plenty of variability.
He’s already taken to hitting coaches Donnie Ecker and Justin Viele, praising the two and everything they have at their disposal.
“I like how we have all the technology so we can have instant feedback nd go back in the cage and feel it out,” Wade said over Zoom.
He didn’t mention her by name, but he seems to appreciate Alyssa Nakken, too, the assistant coach who works plenty with the outfield corps.
Asked what he had heard from the former Twins about the Giants, Wade referenced the “great group of guys and women here. All are professional, all about competing but also about having fun, too.”