Staff reporter Connor Van Ligten attended a Giants spring training game recently and wrote about his experience. Staff photo by Connor Van Ligten.
By Connor Van Ligten.
I recently had the good fortune of being able to attend a San Francisco Giants spring training game while in Arizona over February break. The Giants came out on top against the defending champs, the Chicago Cubs, 8-6. While the result of the game itself doesn’t matter, I took three things away from the game that could have an impact on San Francisco’s 2017 campaign come February..
Mark Melancon is the real deal
The crown jewel of the Giants offseason, closer Mark Melancon, pitched an inning at the very beginning of the game, striking out two batters and getting the other to fly out. I believe that Melancon has that killer presence that all great MLB closers need to succeed. Melancon throws a mean fastball and looks downright scary on the mound. I have confidence that Melancon can make a big difference in helping the Giants close out important games this year. Not only did bad relief pitching blow San Francisco’s playoff series against the Cubs, it destroyed their NL West lead during the regular season. San Francisco’s complete lack of a competent closer destroyed their season in 2016, but Melancon’s presence will help to prevent that from happening again.
How much longer can Matt Cain go?
San Francisco Giants legend Matt Cain pitched a few innings against the Cubs at the very beginning of the matchup. Unfortunately for Matt Cain fans, he didn’t quite look up to snuff, as he gave up a few hits and three runs to the Cubs in the first few innings. This does seem par for the course for the former Ace Cain, who has struggled with injuries in the last few seasons. Giants fans are hoping that Cain will be able to show flashes of his 2012 form (including a legendary perfect game), but that may seem like wishful thinking at this point.
Power hitters badly needed
The Giants have always been significantly lacking in offensive power compared to other clubs, especially during the playoffs. While poor relief pitching sunk the Giants last year, poor hitting has been a problem with the Giants for years. During the spring training game I noticed the Giants seemed to be exercising options for power hitters. Michael Morse, famous for his heroics during the 2014 NLCS, is back on the team and batted twice during the game against the Cubs, striking out once and walking on his second at-bat. Although Morse hasn’t looked the same since his injuries, his presence on the spring training roster means that the Giants are exercising options to add a big offensive force to their roster. Jae-gyun Hwang, a player mostly unknown outside of Korea, briefly made waves after smashing a three-run homer in middle of the game that helped the Giants take the lead. Although a Scottsdale homer is equivalent to a deep flyout at AT&T Park, Hwang’s presence is an indication of the Giants trying to fill their gaping holes offensively. While it’s entirely likely that neither of the mentioned players above will be on the roster this season, one can hope that the Giants will be able to fix their offensive woes eventually.