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Michael Morse is hurt, and the Giants’ bench is wide open

It looked like an old friend was going to be the power bat off the bench, but hamstrings got in the way.

MLB: Spring Training-San Francisco Giants at Chicago White Sox Rick Scuteri-USA TODAY Sports

Michael Morse was going to make the Opening Day roster. It seems obvious from the responses to his hamstring injury, with the Giants expressing obvious disappointment and hoping he’ll stick around and rehab with the team. He was going to be the fifth outfielder, with Mac Williamson plying his trade in Sacramento, most likely.

Now what?

A look at some of the permutations:

The infielder-is-now-an-outfielder gambit

C - Nick Hundley
OF - Gorkys Hernandez/Justin Ruggiano
INF - Gillaspie
INF/OF - Aaron Hill or Jae-gyun Hwang
INF/OF - Kelby Tomlinson

Tomlinson would be the speed guy. The winner of the Hill-Hwang battle would be the guy who shows he can field at least as well as Morse in left, which shouldn’t be too high of a hurdle. Hill has looked okay in limited action; I’m not sure if Hwang has even had a ball hit to him in left.

We’re assuming the first three positions are filled, with the only question having to do with the Gorkys/Ruggiano battle.

That one up there, without the speed

C - Hundley
OF - Gorkys/Ruggiano
INF - Gillaspie
INF/OF - Hill
INF/OF - Hwang

Maybe the Giants don’t want to risk Hwang opting out, and this is the easiest way to do that. Plus, it would give them extra time to evaluate each INF/OF’s versatility and extend the battle into the season.

Stick around, Mac

C - Hundley
OF - Gorkys/Ruggiano
INF - Gillaspie
INF/OF - Hill, Hwang, or Tomlinson
OF - Mac Williamson

Just because he has options doesn’t mean he has to go down. The Giants seem a little stubborn on this point, and Williamson is like a Michael Morse who can, you know, field. And run. I don’t mean to be overly snarky because I love Morse, but it’s an appropriate comparison.

Wild card!

C - Hundley
OF - Gorkys/Ruggiano
INF - Gillaspie
INF/OF - Hill, Hwang, or Tomlinson
OF - Chris Marrero

Marrero leads the Giants with five home runs this spring, including a walk-off dinger. So it’s up to the Giants to determine what’s more important in their evaluations:

a) 46 plate appearances in the Cactus League, or
b) 4,459 plate appearances in the minor leagues

Tick-tock! In those 4,459 plate appearances, Marrero did show a little power, but a .788 OPS isn’t inspiring, especially considering that the numbers were better the further he was from the majors. As a right-hander with power and the ability to play left and first, though, he’s a decent replacement for Morse. It’s worth noting that when Morse was Marrero’s age, he was a random corner guy without a lot of minor-league success, so different players have different paths.

I’m not seeing a ton of names I would want to expose to waivers to make room on the 40-man roster, though. If Will Smith goes on the 60-day DL, maybe, but they would probably want another left-handed pitcher on the roster in that event.

Three catchers, idk

C - Hundley
OF - Gorkys/Ruggiano
INF - Gillaspie
INF/OF - Hill, Hwang, or Tomlinson
C/INF - Trevor Brown

Brown has been nursing a sore ankle, so this seems unlikely. This would be versatility for versatility’s sake, as it’s not like Brown would hit more than Tim Federowicz, and you wouldn’t want to play him at third base very option.

Some GMs just want to watch the world burn

INF - Jimmy Rollins
INF - Gordon Beckham
INF - Aaron Hill
INF - Kelby Tomlinson
INF - Jae-gyun Hwang

Who’s the backup catcher guess what it’s you.

My guess is the second one. Kelby Tomlinson has options, even if it’s a little unfair, and the option to keep Hill and Hwang at the same time probably excites the Giants. It’s a decent silver lining to the Morse cloud.

There are plenty of permutations, though, and a wide open bench. This has been one of the better springs in recent memory for bench-battle fetishists like myself, and absolutely nothing has been resolved yet. It just keeps getting more interest.