Nate Schierholtz is out. Eugenio Velez is in. And Ryan Rohlinger might have a spot on the opening-day roster, if not the starting lineup.
Yes, Rohlinger. The Giants emptied lockers Wednesday, cutting Schierholtz and six others. But with one week until camp breaks, their competition at third base is more wide open than ever. Now that Rich Aurilia and Kevin Frandsen are sidelined for a few days, the club took the extraordinary step of transferring Rohlinger who hasn't played above low Class A ball to major league camp.
Even though Rohlinger's big league invitation arrived five weeks late, Giants manager Bruce Bochy said the 24-year-old would get a legitimate shot to break with the team.
"He's opened eyes, and we're staying open-minded," Bochy said of Rohlinger, who is 4-for-10 with a grand slam and seven RBIs in limited Cactus League action. "Any time we brought him over, the kid's done something."
Rohlinger hit .235 with a club-high 18 home runs for Augusta in the low Class A South Atlantic League last season.
With Rohlinger and Brian Bocock, who will sub for rehabbing shortstop Omar Vizquel in early April, the Giants would feature a left side that doesn't have a single game of experience above Class A.
More likely, the Giants will trade for a third baseman such as Brandon Inge, Joe Crede or Wes Helms. General manager Brian Sabean said he has engaged in conversations about third basemen over the past two days..
Sabean confirmed that Velez's game-changing speed has earned him an undefined role with the club when the season begins.
The original plan was to play Aurilia at third, but Sabean acknowledged that it's likely the veteran will open the season at first base after Dan Ortmeier has appeared overwhelmed at the plate this spring.
Bochy said that prior to the March 26 exhibition at Fresno, the staff would "huddle up and decide which way we'll go everywhere on the infield, including the batting order."
ORTMEIER'S EDUCATION: The Giants haven't completely shut off Ortmeier's opportunity at first base. The struggling switch-hitter and converted outfielder has been overwhelmed with learning the nuances of a new position while also making adjustments from both sides of the plate.
At the club's request, Ortmeier sacrificed the club's lone free day on the spring schedule Tuesday to get five at-bats in a minor league intrasquad game. He hit a home run and singled.
SCHIERHOLTZ SENT DOWN: A month ago, Sabean said he didn't know how he could option Schierholtz to Triple-A Fresno, saying the outfielder "had nothing left to prove in the minor leagues."
That's where Schierholtz is heading, though. Bochy gave him the news on the bus ride from Tucson on Monday, and the Danville native admitted to the manager that he pressed while hitting .229 this spring.
The odds were against Schierholtz from the start because he has a minor-league option; Fred Lewis, Rajai Davis and Ortmeier do not. "He's the victim of the rule, really," Sabean said. Because optioned players cannot be recalled for 10 days, the Giants made the move with Schierholtz now in case another injury would necessitate his return before the March 31 opener.
SHORT HOP: The Giants sent out four other infielders, optioning Travis Denker and Travis Ishikawa to Fresno and reassigning Ivan Ochoa and Emmanuel Burriss to minor league camp. They also optioned right-hander Billy Sadler to Fresno and reassigned right-hander Victor Santos.