There’s practically no starting jobs up for grabs this year, other than injury issues like Freddy Sanchez and Ryan Vogelsong. But that leaves a lot of room on the benches.
This year’s battles are a bit more intense than bench contests should be. And it’s all because of emotion.
• Catcher – Obviously, whoever gets this job is all about the guy who backs up the star of Buster Posey, whose recovery from injury isn’t completely convincing yet. In addition, you’ve got Eli Whiteside as one of the two, a somewhat popular guy for being the backup from the World Series run (that’ll be a running theme). There was some early drama that the Royals might be interested in either Whiteside or Stewart after they lost their starting catcher Salvy Perez to injury for half the season. However, the Royals made a trade on Tuesday to fix that hole.
• Middle Infield – Mike Fontenot was one of those World Series clutch run guys. Ryan Theriot is his longtime teammate/foil. How many silent ‘T’s are there in baseball? Then there’s Emmanuel Burriss, the guy who was drafted just a couple of dozen picks after Tim Lincecum. And Burriss is the one who’s playing the best.
• First Base/Outfield – Why are these two connected? Because there’s no where else to put the non-first basemen. Sure, the Giants claim that they are fine with Melky in left, Angel in center and Nate in right. But lately, Hank Schulman has been picking on Nate’s ticky-tacky injuries like a wife of 20 years on an imperfect husband. Would the Giants sit their defensive specialist just to allow Aubrey Huff or Brandon Belt or Brett Pill to play out there in left? Sure they would. And it’ll be a train wreck. The Giants need to figure out first base, for good. That won’t happen for months, at least.
And again, these are all pretty much backups. But these backups, possible platoons and more will probably play a big part in the Giants’ fortunes. Too many players got injured last year, and are going into this season imperfect. And at least one of these guys, and probably two, may be regular starters by the end of the season.