Bochy may open season with 5 outfielders

Giants want to give Span, Pence time off to avoid injuries

Bochy may open season with 5 outfielders

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy said Sunday that he is "leaning toward" opening the regular season with a five-man outfield contingent. That's standard operating procedure for many teams, but not always for the Giants, who frequently find themselves adding extra pitchers, not position players.

However, the injury histories of center fielder Denard Span and right fielder Hunter Pence almost demand that the Giants reinforce their outfield with enough personnel to rest the pair of veterans when necessary.

Span, who will turn 33 on Feb. 27, appeared in 143 games in 2016, his first season with the Giants. He's another year removed from the triple injuries (core, back, hip) that limited him to 61 games in 2015.

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Pence, 33, played 158 games over the previous two seasons, approximately the number he reached annually not long ago. He has been barred from taking batting practice against "real" pitchers in camp, due to a strained muscle in his right side.

Pence hasn't missed much, since Sunday's deluge prevented the Giants from a full-fledged workout on the field for the second day in a row.

Bochy noted that carrying four outfielders is tolerable, as long as one of the infielders who's seeking a backup role also can play outfield.

• With the Giants having lost workout time to the weekend precipitation, Bochy indicated that he'll use his veterans carefully and sparingly during the early portion of the Cactus League season, which will give younger players more opportunities to prove themselves.

"We have enough games to get these guys ready," Bochy said.

One rookie almost sure to receive opportunities in early exhibitions is right-hander Tyler Beede, widely considered the organization's top pitching prospect. MLBPipeline.com ranked Beede No. 88 on its list of top 100 prospects throughout organized baseball. Bochy said that Beede, the Giants' first-round selection in the 2014 Draft, is "knocking at the door" for a spot in the Major League starting rotation, though Matt Cain and Ty Blach probably are the top two contenders for the fifth starting spot.

"I look forward to watching him," Bochy said of Beede, 23, who led the Eastern League with a 2.81 ERA for Double-A Richmond last year.

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