COMMENTARY | Spring training has a way of tricking baseball fans into believing things that aren't necessarily true. A hot start in spring can make someone believe a sub-par player is in for a career year, while a prolonged slump in March might make you think a star player is suddenly past his prime.
As a general rule, it's best to take everything that happens in spring training with a grain of salt or two -- or five.
Still, it's never too early to start worrying in baseball, and spring is as good a time as any. And sometimes those worries actually prove to be justified once the regular season starts. It doesn't have to just be a poor statistical performance to cause worry, either. Nagging injuries can derail a player once April rolls around just as easily as a bad start at the plate or on the mound can, and spring training injuries have a tendency to linger.
With all of that in mind, let's take a look at the San Francisco Giants' three biggest disappointments so far this spring. "Disappointments" may be a harsh term to use so early on, but it's clear their performances haven't been what Giants fans have been expecting.
Let the worrying commence:
The only free agent of significance the Giants brought aboard this past offseason, Torres was expected to platoon with Gregor Blanco in left field and be a more-than-capable backup for Angel Pagan in center. So far this spring, though, Torres has struggled to even see the field. He was slowed by an oblique injury early on in camp and has only recently started to play in exhibition games. His most impressive moment so far has been breaking his bat across his leg after striking out, Bo Jackson-style.
Torres has been slowed by injuries the past two seasons, so it's disconcerting to see him injured yet again so early on. One would think he's guaranteed a roster spot because of his $2 million contract in '13, but the impressive play of outfielders Francisco Peguero and Cole Gillespie may make Torres expendable if he can't shake his injury woes. When he's healthy, Torres has the ability to be a valuable player either in a platoon or coming off the bench. Actually staying healthy has been his problem, and it doesn't look like that problem is going away anytime soon.
Lincecum makes this list only because fans were hoping to see the former Cy Young winner bounce back immediately from another sub-par regular season. Instead, he's been slowed by a blister issue that has kept him on the sidelines until recently. When he has pitched this spring, his numbers haven't been very impressive: 1 1/3 IP, 4 hits allowed, and a 20.25 ERA as of Monday, March 11.
Lincecum's numbers aren't disappointing on their own, since his pitches have looked sharp. What's disappointing is that Lincecum hasn't jumped out of the gate to quell any fears that have cropped up over the past two seasons. He hasn't looked like an ace in quite some time now, and many were hoping he'd show up this spring with a new hairstyle, a new outlook, and his old form. Instead, he's been battling a blister problem and is still being hit hard. There's still plenty of time for him to turn things around, but if we're talking early spring disappointments, Lincecum is definitely one.
Brown has been the Giants' top position prospect for what seems like forever, and the team was hoping this would be the spring the former first-round pick forced their hand into considering him for the major-league roster. Instead, Brown has put up a pedestrian .217/.217/.478 batting line, and the only thing he's forcing is a trip back to the minor leagues.
Brown had an outside chance of making the major-league roster as a backup outfielder this year, but barring a miracle turnaround that doesn't seem to be in the cards. He's been out-shined by Peguero and Gillespie, to name a few, and the Giants have to be wondering if Brown will ever match the high expectations that have been placed on him since he was drafted. He certainly doesn't look like a superstar in waiting thus far. Brown can still become a productive player at the big-league level, but it's disappointing to see him underwhelm during a spring where many were hoping he'd shine.
Dave Tobener is a San Francisco Bay Area-based writer who has written about the Giants for the better part of a decade. He's also contributed articles to Yahoo! Sports Big League Stew. You can follow him on Twitter @gggiants.
- Sports & Recreation
- San Francisco Giants
- Andres Torres
- Spring training
- Tim Lincecum