Kroon looks like a contender
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Just as Spring Training ends for the Giants, fresh intrigue begins.
Right-hander Marc Kroon, a non-roster invitee, may have pitched himself into serious consideration for a bullpen role. He sustained his momentum Friday by striking out the side in a perfect seventh inning against Kansas City. Since allowing two runs in his Cactus League debut, Kroon has made eight consecutive one-inning scoreless appearances, allowing three hits and striking out nine in that span.
Kroon would slide easily onto the roster if Brian Wilson begins the season on the disabled list with his strained left oblique muscle. Kroon wouldn’t necessarily assume the closer’s duties in Wilson’s absence, though he excelled in that role in Japan. Manager Bruce Bochy probably would rely on a closer-by-committee arrangement. But Kroon could be part of that contingent.
It’s also easy to envision Kroon as part of the competition for the pitching staff’s 12th and final spot, which has been viewed as a berth for a long reliever. Kroon hasn’t been “stretched out” to pitch multiple innings, but he has performed so effectively that the Giants might simply decide he deserves a job.
Kroon has indicated that he will not accept a Triple-A assignment. He might not have to. If the Giants decide they have no room for him and are forced to let him go, he has pitched well enough to secure a job with another big league club.
Take a good look at Saturday’s lineup for the exhibition game against the Cincinnati Reds. It could be the Opening Day lineup. Which is different from saying that it’s the regular lineup:
Andres Torres CF
Freddy Sanchez 2B
Aubrey Huff RF
Buster Posey C
Pat Burrell LF
Pablo Sandoval 3B
Miguel Tejada SS
Mark DeRosa 1B
Tim Lincecum P
With left-hander Clayton Kershaw due to start for the Dodgers in Thursday’s regular-season opener at Los Angeles, this right-handed-heavy lineup could be the one Bochy uses that evening. Against right-handers, Travis Ishikawa and Nate Schierholtz might be more likely to play first base and right field, respectively, with Huff moving to left field.
– Chris Haft