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The Giants' roster for Opening Day looks clearer after latest cuts

With Kyle Blanks and Clayton Blackburn back in minor-league camp, here's a guess at what the 25-man roster will be on Opening Day.

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Kyle Blanks, large baseball player, still might be the duffel bag of even-year nonsense that we ordered in January. But he'll have to do it after an in-season call-up, as he was reassigned to minor league camp on Sunday, one of eight cuts to the roster, including Clayton Blackburn. With two weeks left in spring training, it looks like we have a pretty good idea about what the Opening Day roster is going to be.

Blanks had a shot to make the team as a power threat off the bench, and he might have even been the favorite at the start of the spring. But injuries held him back yet again, and he was surpassed in the dinger-mashing race by Mac Williamson, who has the added benefit of playing a competent center field. If the Giants go for power, Williamson will almost certainly be the last outfielder.

There are no indications, though, that the Giants will go for power. Gorkys Hernandez is one of the neglected minor league free agent outfielders the franchise has had such success with over the last six years, and he looked like a favorite for the last spot at the beginning of March. He's not leading the team in OPS or anything this spring (Matt Cain, 2.000 OPS), but he's hit (and fielded and run) extraordinarily well, and it would probably be a surprise at this point if he didn't make the roster. Here's the magic fifth outfielder we're used to every other year. Brian Sabean and Bobby Evans have the subscription on auto-renew.

Blackburn's demotion could mean that Matt Cain just might make his first start of the season after all. Even if he misses his first start, though, the Giants would apparently be comfortable without a dedicated long reliever behind Chris Heston for a start or two. In the event of a long-term need in the rotation, I still wouldn't be surprised to see Blackburn leapfrog Heston for the job, especially if Heston takes to the bullpen. For now, though, the Yusmeiro Petit job is likely to be filled by the player who was expected to fill it, and Blackburn can go do prospect things in Triple-A.

If Cain is on the DL to start the season, it looks like Cory Gearrin, out of options, would be the long reliever. If Cain is healthy ... ish, the bullpen will look like the one we were expecting in December.

A quick guess at the 25-man roster after the latest cuts:

C - Buster Posey
C - Andrew Susac

1B - Brandon Belt
2B - Joe Panik
SS - Brandon Crawford
3B - Matt Duffy
INF - Kelby Tomlinson
INF - Ehire Adrianza

OF - Angel Pagan
OF - Denard Span
OF - Hunter Pence
OF - Gregor Blanco
OF - Gorkys Hernandez

SP - Madison Bumgarner
SP - Johnny Cueto
SP - Jeff Samardzija
SP - Jake Peavy
SP - Matt Cain

RP - Chris Heston
RP - George Kontos
RP - Josh Osich
RP - Hunter Strickland
RP - Javier Lopez
RP - Sergio Romo
RP - Santiago Casilla

Possible substitution #1: Trevor Brown in the place of Adrianza or Tomlinson, allowing the Giants to use Andrew Susac as a pinch-hitter off the bench more (and the absence of innings behind the plate would also let him rest his wrist).

Possible substitution #2: Mac Williamson (or Jarrett Parker) in the place of Adrianza or Tomlinson, providing additional power on the bench at the expense of defensive flexibility.

Possible substitution #3: Williamson/Parker in the place of Hernandez, with power being more of a need than a right-handed Blanco-type.

Possible substitution #4: Cory Gearrin on the roster if Cain is on the DL.

I'll guess that the presence of Ramiro Pena, Hak-ju Lee, and Rando Moreno in the high minors -- not to mention Christian Arroyo in Double-A -- might make Adrianza's option status a non-factor. They might not be as worried about losing him as they might have been in previous seasons. But it's not like Tomlinson has been laying waste to the Cactus League, so the Giants could still go for the more experienced glove at short ... if they have to decide at all. I'll guess they take both and choose between the outfielders. Hernandez is likely in the lead, if only because the organization doesn't have to worry about stunting his development on the bench, like they might with Williamson.

Spring training bench battles are the terms and conditions of the baseball season, and we all have to click "I accept" before we get to the real thing. But some of us sickos actually read through the whole thing. Some of us actually enjoy this stuff. I'm guilty, but if caring about Gorkys Hernandez and Kyle Blanks in March is wrong, I don't wanna be right.