SCOTTSDALE – Despite a loss to the Los Angeles Dodgers in a National League Division Series, the San Francisco Giants found much they had much success to build upon in 2021. They surprisingly had the best record in baseball during the regular season, winning 107 games.
However, they can’t pick up where they left off. Injury woes have altered manager Gabe Kapler’s Opening Day roster plans. Fans will get a close-up look when the Giants host the Miami Marlins at 1:35 p.m. at Oracle Park.
Third baseman Evan Longoria underwent finger surgery and outfielder LaMonte Wade Jr. is suffering from left knee inflammation and a bone bruise that are likely to land both on the disabled list to start the season.
So with an expanded 28-man roster until May 2, the Giants can look to some players who might not have been on the Opening Day roster to fill the gaps, something Kapler is confident the club can do.
“There’s not a lot of traditionally open roster spots for us,” Kapler said. “I think, normally, in a spring training like this, you have like two or three spots where you’re getting down to the wire.
“Given the Lamonte Wade Jr. Injury and given the Longoria injury, we do have some spots at the edge of the roster that are going to be filled by perhaps players that we wouldn’t have suspected would be on our Opening Day roster.
“I wouldn’t rule anybody out.”
One player looking to take advantage of the opportunity and build on his success from last year is outfielder Steven Duggar, a sixth-round draft pick in 2015 who appeared in more than 100 games for the first time in 2021.
With Wade out, Duggar is likely to see more appearances, and he’s working hard to improve on last season when he hit .257 with eight home runs and 35 RBIs.
“I think this is probably my most productive camp,” Duggar said. “I’m not talking about results. I just think three of the things that I really wanted to focus on in the box were one, quality of contact; two, quality of the at bat; and, three, ultimately, pitch selection in terms of location. In terms of some of those things … I feel like I’m in a really good place.”
While utility infielder Wilmer Flores is likely to be the Opening Day starter at third base with Longoria out for up to six weeks, Mauricio Dubón’s versatility makes him a player who could get an opportunity to contribute at several positions. He saw time at third, second, shortstop and in the outfield for the Giants in 2021.
The only Honduran player currently in the major leagues and only the second big leaguer from his country in history, the 27-year-old Dubón came to the U.S. as a 15-year-old hoping to get more opportunities to play the game than he could at home.
“There’s a lot of baseball there, but it’s tough just because it’s hard to get equipment over there,” Dubón said. “It’s hard to get stuff. I remember I started playing with soccer cleats.
“But I felt like that’s what kind of helped me reach out to where I wanted to reach because, knowing where I came from, it gives me a little more motivation.”
Dubón said he tried to focus on improving his own game during Cactus League play rather than worry about what the roster will look like when the Giants break camp.
“I’m trying to put out good at bats,” Dubón said. “Whatever happens, happens. I’m not worried about the future. I’m not worried about what’s going to happen. I’m just trying to play baseball.”