Health tops Giants' Spring Training questions

Pagan, Cain, Hudson coming off surgeries; revamped offense takes shape

Health tops Giants' Spring Training questions

SAN FRANCISCO -- The Giants can approach Spring Training with vigor and without fear.

They have an ample supply of skilled performers who can fill key roles if poor health or poor performances force manager Bruce Bochy to change plans.

"We have such a good group," said right fielder Hunter Pence, referring to the club's depth.

Pence excited to be back

The Giants understand the importance of assembling a capable group instead of just a few talented individuals. They didn't play a single game with their projected Opening Day lineup last year. They finished the season with a starting rotation decimated by injuries and ineffectiveness. Yet they won the World Series for the third time in five seasons.

As pitchers and catchers report for Spring Training in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Wednesday, here are the biggest questions facing the Giants:

1. Is Angel Pagan OK?
He's said to be fully recovered from the back problems that limited him to 96 games and forced him to undergo surgery last year. Of course, the Giants won't know for sure until they scrutinize him -- not just during Cactus League play, but also into the regular season. As San Francisco's top center fielder and leadoff batter, Pagan fills two critical roles that create a void when he's sidelined.

Cain discusses his rehab

2. How do the starters look?
As is the case with Pagan, the answer might not take shape until well into the regular season. Though Matt Cain and his surgically repaired elbow appear to be sound, opposing hitters will deliver the true verdict. Tim Lincecum will be driven to rise above last year's demotion to the bullpen and prove that he remains formidable. Jake Peavy and Tim Hudson must recharge after exhausting themselves by the end of the postseason.

Peavy excited for spring

3. Can they score enough?
Though offensive totals often are inflated during Cactus League action, the Giants need reassurance they still can generate sufficient offense. The free-agency departures of Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse, both key run producers in 2014, have prompted hints of doubt. Newcomers Nori Aoki and Casey McGehee can erase that apprehension by swinging lively bats. Another source of hope is Brandon Belt, whose 2014 output was muted by injuries.

Chris Haft is a reporter for Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.