Though as the 2014 season kicks off today with the Giants in Arizona to play the Diamondbacks, one key piece of that 2012 team will not be on the field, and may not be for a while.
Marco Scutaro spent all of spring training nursing a back injury. He always seemed to be knocking on the door to a return, but consistently was held back.
“I’d like to be a bit more optimistic,” manager Bruce Bochy said of Scutaro’s rehab. “But we’ve been spending six or seven weeks on this. … It’s been a slow process, frustrating for him, for us, but what’s important is we get him right because it is so early in the season. And, hey if it takes another couple weeks, I’ll take him for five months.”
What the team does in the meantime is still up in the air. Bochy has always been a manager who likes to go with known quantities, and right now Joaquin Arias looks like he will get the majority of the playing time at second base with Brandodn Hicks likely to get some starts against left-handed starters.
Arias’ career .302 on-base percentage — a crucial stat at the top of the order — can’t replace Scutaro’s .341, however, so filling the No. 2 spot in the order will be another question.
The Giants saw multiple players get the opportunity to hit second this spring, though it looks like Hunter Pence is the leader in that race, though Brandon Belt could be another option.
Pence hit in that spot early in his career with the Houston Astros, and if you ask him, it won’t affect his approach at the plate.
“[It’s] more the game is what dictates what’s going on [at the plate],” he said. “But I’m comfortable with it. I just love to hit so I’m happy.”
Bochy said Pence’s speed and power are both assets to have at the top of the order, though he did say everyone has become “frustrated” by the setbacks with Scutaro.