SCOTTSDALE — Who had Joe McCarthy as the first Giants home run of the spring? That ticket should be worth some money.
The Giants hit their first long balls of the Cactus League season on Thursday, the initial one a well-swatted launch off the bat of the team’s 2020 Opening Day right fielder, though he quickly lost his roster spot.
McCarthy’s shot to right-center off Chicago righty Connor Sadzeck started the team’s first rally, in the fifth inning. Luis Basabe followed with an infield single before Darin Ruf — most valued as a platoon bat who crushes lefties — took Sadzeck deep to left field off a breaking ball.
Outfield prospect Heliot Ramos, who has gotten off to a nice start, then singled, but the Giants’ scoring was done in their 3-1 victory, their first of the spring. They are now 1-1-2.
“The 3-0 count stands out to me,” Gabe Kapler said of the pitch that preceded McCarthy’s dinger. “He got a really good swing off on that 3-0 pitch and sort of used it as a calibrator for what he might do, 3-1 count. He really drove that ball to center field.
“McCarthy’s been looking for a pitch to drive, and he’s laid off a lot of pitches. It’s nice to see him get one on a 3-0 and 3-1 count and be especially assertive on those pitches.”
McCarthy, whose minor league pedigree impresses the Giants, went 0-for-10 last year before being demoted and not recalled. He has struggled through injury plenty in his minor league career and hopes this season will be his breakthrough.
Ruf, meanwhile, was half of an impressive platoon last year in left, switching off with Alex Dickerson depending upon the pitcher. This year, with shorter, 26-man rosters and no DH, the Giants are trying to get the below-average fielder as many reps at first and left to create ways to get his bat in the lineup.
He hit righties well, too, last year, and Kapler mentioned that he sees the 34-year-old, who spent three years playing in South Korea, as viable against all types of pitchers.
Both Steven Duggar and Luis Basabe contributed nice catches, Duggar coming in and Basabe ranging out to get Shun Yamaguchi out of trouble. Ramos, too, showed off a strong arm with a throw to the plate that scared the White Sox’s Matt Reynolds back to third.
The most impressive hitter for the Giants thus far has been infielder Jason Vosler, who doubled twice Tuesday. He’s now 3-for-10 after dropping in a single Thursday and also made a nice pick at third.
Duggar thought he had walked twice and instead struck out twice, both finishing with glances at the home-plate ump. He did walk once and was picked off first. He’s on the end of the roster and trying to hold on.
Tommy La Stella went 0-for-2 with two strikeouts. He had 12 strikeouts in 228 plate appearances last year.
Health updates: Brandon Belt, who has been out with an illness, is “feeling better,” Kapler said. He did some work in the cage.
There isn’t a target date for his spring debut, and he will need to build up for a while.
Outfielder Jaylin Davis has been dealing with knee soreness and ran the bases Thursday.
“We’re especially confident that you’ll see him in the lineup in the next couple of days,” Kapler said.
Kapler said Austin Slater has a “mild, sore hamstring.” No long-term concerns, but they’ll be careful with the outfielder.
Aaron Sanchez threw his first bullpen session with the Giants.
“Fist bumps all around,” Kapler said.