Giants' spring opener previews duel for LF job

Giants' spring opener previews duel for LF job

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Given the widespread competition for jobs, each of the Giants' Cactus League exhibition games promises to be significant, beginning with Friday's opener against the Cincinnati Reds at Scottsdale Stadium.

The game, which will be started by Giants ace Madison Bumgarner and begin at 12:05 p.m. PT, can be streamed live with an exclusive video webcast or with Gameday Audio.

A crowd has formed in left field, where the Giants are searching for an everyday player. Jarrett Parker and Mac Williamson appear to be the leading candidates, though veterans Michael Morse, Justin Ruggiano and Chris Marrero likely will make their presence felt. Morse, Ruggiano and Marrero are non-roster invitees.

A scramble for backup infield positions also could develop. Non-roster invitees Gordon Beckham, Aaron Hill, Jae-gyun Hwang and Jimmy Rollins will compete against returnees Kelby Tomlinson and Conor Gillaspie for the two or three roles expected to be available. That group doesn't include Morse and Marrero, who can play first base.

Parker's running grab

Finding enough playing time for each aspirant will require frequent attention from Giants manager Bruce Bochy.

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"It's going to be a little bit of a challenge for me to give all these guys the at-bats and playing time they want, and give them their best opportunity to make this club," Bochy said Thursday. "We don't have as many split-squad games, so that makes it a little more challenging, but certainly I'll do the best I can."

Doing the best they can also could be said of the Giants' hitters, who had their first official workout last Friday and then were prevented from taking batting practice on the field the next two days due to steady rain.

However, Giants hitting coach Hensley Meulens downplayed possible rustiness.

"It's not like before when guys were not in shape. Guys are in shape," he said. Besides, Meulens added, Giants hitters won't be expected to work wonders this early in the spring. "You want to see guys tracking the ball, using their hands, getting their timing back and getting their feel back for being in the box."

Bumgarner is likely to work only one inning. 

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for 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.