SCOTTSDALE — The relationship between the Giants’ depth and the attention that should be paid to early spring games is inversely proportional: The less depth, the more focus.
So when Mauricio Dubon has a rough game at shortstop in games that don’t matter, it matters at least a little.
Behind Brandon Crawford is Dubon, who has established himself as a center fielder. Beyond that, Gabe Kapler has referenced the non-rostered Arismendy Alcantara. Donovan Solano, at one time a shortstop option, now will be limited to second and a little third. So if something happens to Crawford, something large and unpleasant would happen to the Giants.
Dubon, who gained 12 pounds this offseason in hopes of adding some pop to his bat, got the first start of the Cactus League season at shortstop, and as little as these glimpses mean, the first appearance wasn’t a promising one.
The first ball hit to Dubon, off Juan Lagares’ bat, was well-hit but a fairly routine play that went beneath Dubon’s legs for a second-inning error. It’s forgivable, especially for a young player taking plenty of outfield reps, too.
The third-inning mistake may have been more concerning because it was partly mental. Again Lagares grounded to Dubon with runners on first and second without an out. The 26-year-old ranged up the middle for the ball then tried running to second for the force-out, which he couldn’t record in time.
Now with a barreling-in Jo Adell to contend with, Dubon tried to get the out at first, but it was too late.
“We mentioned to Mauricio that we’re glad that it happened on the first day, the first spring training game, so we can clean those things up,” Gabe Kapler said after the Giants’ 5-2 loss to the Angels at Scottsdale Stadium on Sunday. “In large part, it’s just a bit of an overadjustment: One of the things that we’ve asked him to do is to really control his pace, have an internal clock, understand that he’s got more time because he’s so athletic, because he has such a strong arm.
“And in this case, it was one of those things he had to speed up just a little bit — on both plays. Just attack the baseball, even though you’re close to the base, make sure you get rid of it quickly. I have no concerns about this.”
There are a few positional challenges being conducted in Giants camp. As Dubon moved to shortstop, LaMonte Wade Jr. got the first start of spring in center, where the Giants hope he can emerge as a lefty-hitting option to complement Dubon. He made a couple catches but didn’t see too much action in the opener.
“[We saw] enough to see that he got solid jumps and got to the spots that he needed to be in,” said Kapler of Wade, who did try to make a throw home that bounced short of the pitchers’ mound. “I thought he communicated well and did his job out there.”