Heliot Ramos

Giants notes: Melvin excited to give Ramos opportunity in center field

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ARLINGTON -- When the Giants lost Jung Hoo Lee for the year, they hoped to count on Luis Matos to handle center field. Beyond that, there weren't a lot of options. 

Mike Yastrzemski and Austin Slater are better in the corners, and while Tyler Fitzgerald and Brett Wisely both can play center field, neither is viewed as a regular yet and Wisely is needed at shortstop. Heliot Ramos had not played center regularly since 2022, and the staff initially didn't view him as someone who could slide back over. 

But right now, there's not much that seems out of Ramos' grasp. 

The hottest outfielder in the National League will start in center field Friday at massive Globe Life Field after getting a couple of innings of action in the middle of the outfield on Wednesday. Ramos has just 16 center field innings in the big leagues, but he's confident, and that makes manager Bob Melvin confident. 

"Heliot has told me, 'I've played center field a lot.' It's another spot where he is kind of inspired to play," Melvin said. "With Michael [Conforto] back in left, it makes the most sense right now. If we don't like what we see or he's a little bit uncomfortable we can always move Yaz over there and Slates against lefties, but I think he's pretty excited about doing it."

If Ramos can stick there, at least for a few months, it'll open up some options for Melvin, who has watched the lineup struggle for most of the last couple of weeks. The preference is to start Conforto in left field every day and platoon Yastrzemski and Slater in right. 

Ramos was drafted as a center fielder and certainly has the physical tools to handle the position if he gets good reads. He has a strong arm, above-average sprint speed, and the advanced metrics have shown him to be very good in the corners over the past month. The eye test matches up, too, and Ramos ran down several balls at Chase Field. 

"One of his first games (back) he threw out two guys in one game, and he has just played great baseball all the way around," Melvin said. "If you look at some of the numbers in the past, they don't add up to what we're seeing right now. We'll give him a shot in center field and see how it goes there, as well."

Familiar face

Bruce Bochy drew a large crowd for his afternoon media session, but he said this matchup is close to "just another series" at this point. Bochy pointed out that the Texas Rangers visited Oracle Park last season and he got a lot of the nostalgia out of the way back then. The Rangers, two games under .500, simply need to start playing good baseball, and that's his focus this weekend. 

Bochy did, however, take plenty of time to meet up with familiar faces in the afternoon. He had long conversations with broadcaster Duane Kuiper and trainer Dave Groeschner and also caught up with former Giant Jeremy Affeldt, who now lives in Texas and brought his family to the game. 

Trainer's room

Blake Snell is throwing off flat ground and the Giants are hopeful he can throw a bullpen session next week. Melvin said Snell's latest groin strain seems milder than the first one, which cost him 25 games. 

San Francisco currently is "TBA" for the next two games, but Keaton Winn will return from the IL to pitch one of them. It'll be a while, still, before others are available. Robbie Ray will pitch two innings in an Arizona Complex League game on Saturday. Alex Cobb is hopeful that he can ramp up his throwing program next week. 

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