Gutierrez earns spot in bullpen as Giants set roster
Club begins regular season Monday against D-backs in Phoenix
OAKLAND -- Even though Saturday's spring finale against the A's was rained out, Giants reliever Juan Gutierrez had one heck of a day. Just minutes after the game was called, Gutierrez emerged from manager Bruce Bochy's office with a big smile on his face.
The reason? The non-roster invitee pitched well enough during Spring Training to earn a spot in San Francisco's bullpen.
"He had a great spring," Bochy said. "Good stuff, velocity was 95, in that area. Had a good slider, threw a lot of strikes. He earned his spot. It was very competitive and we had some good arms that were competing for this club."
Gutierrez was among a host of players on the bubble who learned their fate Saturday ahead of Sunday's 12 p.m. PT roster deadline. Meanwhile, starting second baseman Marco Scutaro (lower back) and lefty reliever Jeremy Affeldt (right knee sprain) were officially placed on the 15-day disabled list to start the year.
Also joining Gutierrez on the Opening Day roster will be fellow relievers Yusmeiro Petit, Jean Machi and David Huff. Petit and Gutierrez give Bochy a couple of options who could be stretched out to long-relief roles, while Machi held his own in the bigs last year for the Giants, and Huff gives the bullpen a second lefty behind Javier Lopez while Affeldt is out.
Rising prospect Derek Law gave the coaching staff something to think about after putting together a strong offseason and Spring Training, but will begin the year with Double-A Richmond. Still, Bochy said it's entirely possible that the 23-year-old will be coming back to San Francisco at some point this season.
"He was close to making this team. So, he's knocking on the door," Bochy said. "It's nice to have these guys to give you insurance, and not just insurance, but depth in that bullpen. If we need some help, we feel that we have some very capable arms to help us."
As far as the offense, Juan Perez earned the fourth outfielder's role over Tyler Colvin. Bochy said Colvin could never get into a groove this spring while battling injuries, and that he needs more at-bats in Triple-A Fresno going forward.
Perez played in 34 games with the Giants last year and Bochy sees the 27-year-old growing more confident at the big-league level.
"He gives us speed," Bochy said. "Great defense, a double-switch [candidate]. He just seemed like he got more and more comfortable as he played up here last year. He got that, as we say, that sense of belonging."
With Scutaro out indefinitely to start the season, it could be something of a carousel in the middle infield to begin the year after Brandon Hicks and Ehire Adrianza also made the team as reserves.
For now, the plan is to have Brandon Crawford and Joaquin Arias take the lion's share of playing time at shortstop and second base, respectively. But Bochy hinted that Crawford could be seeing more time off against left-handed pitchers this year, after hitting just .199/.258/.288 against southpaws in 2013.
"You get caught in a tough spot sometimes, because the way that they get better is to see left-handers," Bochy said. "But we're going to need production throughout that order. … It'll benefit Craw in the long run, too. He'll play against some left-handers. Again, his at-bats will determine how much."
On days when Crawford rests, Arias would likely move over to shortstop, opening up a spot for Hicks or Adrianza at second base. Bochy also wants to be cautious with Arias' playing time, since he's usually occupied a utility role and never played in more than 112 games in a season, meaning Hicks and Adrianza could fill in for Arias when needed.
The Giants have purchased the contracts of Hicks and Gutierrez in order to add them to the 25-man roster. With a spot open on their 40-man roster, the Giants only had to make one corresponding move on Saturday -- designating outfielder Roger Kieschnick for assignment.
Alex Espinoza is a contributor to MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.