Giants pick Sam Long for rotation spot, could add red-hot prospect

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Giants pick spot starter, could add red-hot Triple-A outfielder originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

WASHINGTON D.C. -- One part of the weekend roster puzzle was put into place early Friday morning when the Giants announced that left-hander Sam Long will start the first game against the Washington Nationals. When the other shoe drops, it could add an intriguing young outfielder to the roster.

The Giants flew outfielder Luis Gonzalez and Jakob Junis to the nation's capital, per a source, potentially adding pitching depth and also the replacement for outfielder Steven Duggar, who injured his left oblique in Thursday's loss to the New York Mets. The 26-year-old Gonzalez would seem to be a seamless fit as the Giants look to replace Duggar's left-handed bat in the outfield, although the front office will have to make a move to get him on the 40-man roster.

Gonzalez was picked up on a creative waiver claim last summer, with the Giants knowing the former Chicago White Sox prospect was about to have season-ending shoulder surgery. The Giants quickly put him on the 60-day IL, and their patience has paid off this year.

Gonzalez had a good spring, and at one point manager Gabe Kapler said he didn't think there was anybody in camp having better at-bats than the young outfielder. He started the year in Triple-A and had a .283/.389/.500 slash line through 11 games with three homers.

The Giants have been playing three left-handed-hitting outfielders -- Duggar, Mike Yastrzemski and Joc Pederson -- just about every day, but Duggar's oblique flared up on Tuesday night and he felt a stabbing pain while fouling a ball off Thursday. He will get an MRI on Friday to determine the severity, but the Giants expect him to miss at least a few weeks.

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During an appearance on KNBR on Thursday, Giants president of baseball operations Farhan Zaidi said the front office would consider Heliot Ramos for the open roster spot, but added, "The way we manage the roster, it's nice to be able to replace a left-handed bat with another left-handed bat."

The Giants are facing a left-hander, Patrick Corbin, on Friday, so they'll go with their right-handed bats anyway, but Gonzalez could be an option as soon as Saturday. Junis, if activated, would add bullpen depth at a time when the Giants are playing 13 games in 13 days in five different ballparks. They have carried two long relievers, but one of them -- Long -- will now slide into the rotation, at least for one turn.

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