Eugenio Velez: On the Bubble?

Eugenio Velez: Super infield/outfield utility man. The words just roll off the tongue, don't they? And by "roll off the tongue," I mean "roll off the tongue of a person who was bitten by a coral snake and whose mouth has swollen to an unbearable point and oh god where is that antidote they said it would be here." So if that's the tongue the words are rolling off of, "Eugenio Velez: Super infield/outfield utility man," roughly translates to, "pfff hullll sttfffff nonml noml ffffp." Which kind of sums up my feelings on the matter.

There are a lot of Eugenio Velez haters around these parts. Please note that I am not one of them. I'm kind of fascinated by the guy. His minor league career is bizarre. The Blue Jays signed him out of the Dominican Republic, and didn't bother assigning him to Rookie League until he was 22. Then once he was in a full-season league, the Blue Jays told Velez that stolen bases were wicked, naughty things, which is the organizational equivalent of buying a VCR for the digital clock. So even though the guy is 26, all of the "he's still getting used to the game"-stories have merit. Last year was only the third professional season in which he's played more than 100 games. It's borderline remarkable that he's able to even flirt with a .300 OBP in the majors.

When the Giants came out and announced Velez would be getting a fair number of spring innings in center field, I assumed that he was a lock to make the team, and any outfield innings he played were just an attempt to duct-tape a pair of tweezers to a rusted Swiss Army knife. Now, though, I'm wondering if it's a signal that his spot on the team is in jeopardy. Consider:

  • Velez is a total non-factor in the second base competition, which is a little surprising
  • Andres Torres is goofy hot this spring, a legitimate center fielder, and coming off a nice year in AAA
  • Juan Uribe and Rich Aurilia may or may not be competing for one infield utility spot. There's a chance that both players could make the team

My guess: if Frandsen and Burriss are both on the Opening Day roster, Velez isn't. I still think Velez deserves a spot somewhere as a 25th-man, but that spot shouldn't be on a roster with four second basemen and four outfielders capable of playing center.

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