Wilmer Flores to see slight shift in Giants role after offseason moves

How departures, new rule will lead to slight shift for Flores originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- When Wilmer Flores became a father for the first time last week, there was absolutely no doubt about what his son's name would be.

"Wilmer Jose Flores," he said Sunday morning, smiling.

Baby Wilmer now is the fifth member of the family to be named Wilmer Flores, a group that includes two professional baseball players, the Giants infielder and his younger brother, Wilmer De Jesus Flores, who is one of the Detroit Tigers' top pitching prospects.

The birth delayed Flores' arrival at Scottsdale Stadium by about a week, but he might top the list of players Gabe Kapler never will worry about. Flores said he has been training every day with the exception of time spent at the hospital with his family, and he could DH in a Cactus League game as soon as March 2.

"Nobody is going to come in more prepared than Wilmer," Kapler said. "But he probably needs a couple of days to get his feet up under him."

Flores figures to get a lot of time at DH against left-handed pitchers -- Joc Pederson will be the primary choice against righties -- but the Giants will change his responsibilities a bit when it comes to playing the field. With Brandon Belt and Evan Longoria gone and new shift rules in place, Flores mostly will play first and third.

"We view him more on the corners and DH, but he's somebody who is experienced and capable of playing second base if necessary," Kapler said. "It's not our ideal look, but we will remember when the time comes that Wilmer can get out there and handle that responsibility for us."

Flores made 50 starts at second base last season, but new shift rules will put an increased emphasis on infield defense this season. Thairo Estrada will be the Giants' everyday second baseman, with David Villar set to slide over when Estrada plays shortstop on Brandon Crawford's off days.

"I think we need to prioritize range on the right side of the diamond," Kapler said. "Wilmer, both objectively and to the eye test, is a good, solid first baseman, and at second base he's a little bit limited from a range perspective."

--- Here's life as a two-way player: On Saturday, Ronald Guzman threw a live BP session, hitting 96 mph ... a day later, he took his normal batting practice. Guzman is spending nearly all of his time this spring on the pitching side, but he's trying to keep the bat sharp, as well. The early returns are positive. Aside from the velo, he has shown a feel for five pitches in bullpen sessions.

"It's fun to watch a guy that's been playing a position his whole life and sort of just dabbled in pitching but has taken to it quickly," Kapler said. "It's kind of intuitive to him."

Guzman will make his mound debut Wednesday. Top prospect Kyle Harrison also is set to pitch in Wednesday's game, which will be started by Jakob Junis.

--- Even with a full offseason to think about the new rules and two weeks here in camp, the Giants still are having daily discussions about things they hadn't thought of or realized. Catcher Blake Sabol has experienced the rules in the minors and brought up an interesting point Saturday.

Some Giants pitchers purposely have let the clock wind nearly all the way down to mess with hitters, but Sabol said you need to be careful about when you use that strategy. Some baserunners in the minors started using the pitch clock as a countdown clock, kind of like a pass-rusher getting a good jump as the play clock winds down. If it's down to three or two seconds, you know the pitcher needs to start his delivery, so you can take off.

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--- Donovan Walton was listed on the non-roster invitee list but hasn't been seen at camp. The Giants announced he's still recovering from right shoulder surgery that he had last September. Walton is working out at the minor league facility and isn't expected back in games until early May.

Walton is no longer on the 40-man roster and the Giants have two left-handed-hitting middle infield options in Brett Wisely and Isan Diaz, but there are still a lot of reasons for them to hope Walton can find his form. A major one: The player they sent to Seattle, Prelander Berroa, has been absolutely electric in Mariners camp.

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