Luis Matos

Melvin hints at Matos making Opening Day roster amid Slater injury

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The Giants might have to make a last-minute tweak to their Opening Day 26-man roster.

After appearing to be on the outside looking in at a roster spot to begin the season, young outfield prospect Luis Matos could earn his place on the roster when San Francisco opens the 2024 MLB season against the San Diego Padres on March 28 at Petco Park.

Giants manager Bob Melvin told KNBR 680's "Murph & Markus" Friday morning that veteran outfielder Austin Slater suffered a setback after undergoing elbow surgery this offseason and that his availability for Opening Day is in doubt, opening the door for Matos to take his place on the initial roster.

"A lot of it depends on Austin Slater, and he had a little bit of a setback yesterday," Melvin said. "He's not going to play today, I had him DHing, he's still kind of recovering from the surgery he had on his arm and it hasn't gone really smoothly. We've been able to get him in some games and then have to pull him out. He's still feeling it a little bit.

"So as far as where Matos goes has a lot to do with Slater, and right now I'm not sure Austin's going to make it to the finish line to start the season. And if that's the case, obviously Matos would be on the team."

The Giants originally planned to platoon Slater with left-handed hitter Mike Yastrzemski in right field. If San Francisco's longest tenured player is unavailable for Opening Day, Melvin envisions Matos filling that role.

"Wherever it is. He would get his starts against left-handed pitching for sure," Melvin shared. "We have three left-handed hitting outfielders at this point and not every one of these guys are going to play 162 games. Even Jung Hoo [Lee] is going to get some days off over the course of the season, playing in Korea is not the schedule we play here in the States. If that's the case and Austin doesn't make it, then typically Matos is going to play against some left-handed pitching."

Matos arrived at camp noticeably bigger after putting on 14 pounds of muscle in the offseason and got off to a scorching hot start in spring training. The 22-year-old is batting .292/.346/.667 with a team-leading four home runs and 11 RBI in 48 at-bats.

The young outfielder showed flashes of his sky-high potential in his rookie 2023 season, but struggled with consistency and power at the plate. However, so far in spring training, Matos appears headed toward a significant role in the Giants' outfield this season, which could materialize sooner than anticipated.

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