The Giants made their final roster moves Wednesday in preparation for Friday’s season opener against the Arizona Diamondbacks and most notable is the presence of a new backup catcher.
Hector Sanchez will be counted on to provide some offense off the bench and when filling in for starter Buster Posey, while Eli Whiteside will start the season in Triple-A. Whiteside has been with the Giants since 2009 and played in 82 games last season after taking the majority of the starts following the May 25 injury to Posey.
The Giants also traded catcher Chris Stewart to the Yankees for right-handed pitcher George Kontos.
“That was really difficult,” manager Bruce Bochy said of the conversation with Whiteside. “Whitey’s so well thought of by all the teammates, myself, the staff. We do feel like we needed to add a little offense. The offense that Hector can provide could help us.”
Sanchez is a switch-hitter and hit .383 this spring with four home runs and 10 RBIs. In 13 games with the Giants last season, he hit .258 in 31 at-bats.
Bochy also said he is comfortable using Pablo Sandoval as an emergency catcher if needed late in a game. Sandoval has played 14 games as catcher in the major leagues, though not since 2009. He caught bullpen sessions as recently as last season.
Brett Pill also made the roster, and will serve as the primary first baseman against left-handed pitchers, with Brandon Belt getting the starts against right-handers. Aubrey Huff is expected to play mostly in the outfield, alongside newcomers Melky Cabrera and Angel Pagan.
“Getting that news is unbelievable,” Pill said. “They told me they believe in me and want me to, against left-handed pitchers, be the right-handed guy. Getting that confidence from them back has definitely helped.”
The Giants also placed second baseman Freddy Sanchez and pitchers Ryan Vogelsong, Eric Surkamp and Dan Runzler on the disabled list.
That leaves the team without a fifth starter, something Bochy said he’s fine with until Vogelsong returns on April 15.
Filling in for Sanchez at second will be a mix of Ryan Theriot and Emmanuel Burris. Bochy said he hasn’t made a commitment to one or the other getting the lion’s share of the playing time before Sanchez gets healthy.
“I’ll mix and match,” he said. “Their play dictates how much playing time they get.”
WHEN: Friday, 4:10 p.m.
WHERE: Chase Field, Phoenix
TV: Comcast SportsNet Bay Area, ESPN2
RADIO: KNBR (680 AM)