Parker, Williamson to get long look in LF in camp

Parker, Williamson to get long look in LF in camp

SAN FRANCISCO -- Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson will engage in competition without compromise when the Giants open Spring Training next month, since a platoon involving the left-field candidates is unlikely.

The opportunity exists for the relatively inexperienced pair to divide playing time. Parker bats left-handed; Williamson swings right-handed. But general manager Bobby Evans said recently that the Giants, who have projected regulars at each position except third base, would prefer to maintain the same stability in left, a position that opened when Angel Pagan became a free agent after last season.

"In a perfect world, one guy would win the job," Evans said.

Refraining from a left-field platoon would benefit the Giants in multiple ways:

• Manager Bruce Bochy would be saddled with only one player perpetually needy for playing time instead of two. Moreover, the player who didn't win the left-field job could contribute as a right-field backup, if Hunter Pence, who has missed 166 games in the last two seasons, is sidelined for a prolonged stretch. Parker, 28, has made 22 of his 39 Major League starts in right field. Williamson, 26, has occupied right in 20 of his 35 big league starts.

• The presence of another player in the lineup with balanced hitting skills will leave the Giants less vulnerable to right- or left-handed pitchers.

• The Giants would avoid overexposing or overusing Gorkys Hernandez, who has a legitimate chance of claiming a reserve outfield role. Hernandez performed capably for San Francisco last season, batting .259 in 26 games. But there are reasons why Hernandez has appeared in only 104 Major League games since 2012 while performing primarily at Triple-A.

Parker and Williamson differ in significant respects. Defying the usual percentages, Williamson has hit more proficiently against right-handed pitchers (.258/.329/.403) than lefties (.195/.275/.366) in 64 big league games. Parker's slash lines follow the usual pattern more closely. In 84 big league games, he has hit .294/.411/.532 off right-handers, compared with .200/.259/.400 off lefties.

Williamson's diving catch

Williamson has a Minor League option remaining, so he can be sent to the Minors with minimal fuss. Parker is out of options and thus must clear waivers before the Giants can send him to Triple-A.

To further challenge Parker and Williamson, the Giants have invited a pair of veteran outfielders to Major League camp: Michael Morse, a key figure on San Francisco's 2014 World Series-winning club, and Justin Ruggiano. Both signed Minor League contracts.

The Giants have had a different starting left fielder each year since all-time home run leader Barry Bonds was not offered a contract shortly following the 2007 season, The roll call includes Dave Roberts (2008), Fred Lewis (2009), Mark DeRosa (2010), Pat Burrell (2011), Aubrey Huff (2012), Andres Torres (2013), Morse (2014), Norichika Aoki (2015) and Pagan (2016).

Evans indicated that the Giants are unlikely to make any major personnel moves before camp begins.

"I don't know if we're ever able to shut down our eyes and ears to opportunities," he said. "There's nothing right now that's imminent."

Giants pitchers and catchers report to camp in Scottsdale, Ariz., on Feb. 13. They'll have their first workout the next day. Reporting date for position players is Feb. 16, one day before the initial full-squad workout.

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. Follow hi, dm on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat and listen to his podcast. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.