Bob Melvin

Four roster takeaways from Giants' first day of spring training

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SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Bob Melvin's first meeting with players as Giants manager began with a very simple message: Be on time.

Melvin himself was 10 minutes early to his first media session, and earlier in the day he told the gathered pitchers and catchers that timeliness is a good way to respect your teammates and coaches. It's a simple act that got away from the Giants at times last year, when the entire ship seemed to veer off course and players publicly talked about the lack of leadership and accountability in the clubhouse.

For those who are back, Melvin's first message was a breath of fresh air.

"He's an old-school manager who is going to be strict on that, and I think that's a positive change that we're going to have," staff ace Logan Webb said. "I'm excited about that. Just his leadership and him being around for a long time and his knowledge is going to be massive, especially for the young guys."

This is all part of the routine for Melvin, who is entering his third decade as a manager. But Wednesday still was different for the 62-year-old, who admitted he was nervous as he put on his hometown team's colors for the first time since he was a player in 1988.

"I've always loved this ballpark as far as spring training parks go," Melvin said as he sat in the Scottsdale Stadium dugout. "To be able to put this uniform on, I was for the first time in a little while really nervous for a first meeting, and that's a good thing. I'll try to get all the firsts out of the way. I put the uniform on for the first time and being out on the field and all those sorts of things, it's special."

The first day was quiet for the most part, but Melvin still had some updates on the roster and his plans.

Here are some more takeaways from Day 1:

Youth Movement

Melvin isn't afraid of going with youth in his rotation, which is the plan as the Giants wait for Alex Cobb (hip) and Robbie Ray (Tommy John rehab) to return. He did it with the 2012 A's, who reached the playoffs behind Tommy Milone, Jarrod Parker and other rookie pitchers.

"It's talent, and they're impressionable and they're coachable," Melvin said. "For a coaching staff, it's refreshing. Talent rules the day and we really wanted to impress upon them to build a foundation, throw strikes, your stuff is going to play. You start to tinker a little bit with grips and different pitches and maybe at times with younger guys getting a little too far ahead of yourselves. Establish a foundation of what you can do well on the mound and then work from there."

In The Squat

A former catcher, Melvin is thrilled to have eight of them in camp. The list includes Joey Bart, who is out of options and stuck behind Patrick Bailey and new backup catcher Tom Murphy.

"Bart has come into camp in great shape and with a great attitude," Melvin said. "I'll have some conversations with him along the way here but he looks really inspired as well."

Last year's main backup, Blake Sabol, no longer is under Rule 5 restrictions and can be optioned to Triple-A if needed. Melvin said the Giants will move Sabol around this spring to add some more versatility since there are two catchers ahead of him on the depth chart. That will include a new position.

"I think first base might be -- I haven't told him this yet -- but first base might be another spot," Melvin said. "I think with LaMonte (Wade Jr.) as the only left-handed hitting first baseman, (Sabol) has played some outfield and is a versatile guy. We might move him around a little bit more."

Leaning Left

Amir Garrett passed his physical and joined camp as a non-roster invitee, giving Melvin another potential option for the bullpen. Garrett has seven years of MLB experience with the Cincinnati Reds and Kansas City Royals and could fill a need for a roster that lost Scott Alexander, who signed with the A's on Wednesday. Taylor Rogers is the only lefty locked into a bullpen spot.

"Look, we don't have a ton (of lefties) so this certainly adds to it," Melvin said. "(Pitching coach Bryan Price) managed him so he's got a relationship with him. I think it's a really good sign for us. It's non-roster, which helps you out too, but he's been really good at times of his career and I think he's open to do anything that we asked him to do … it's nice to have a veteran guy and another left-hander."

Flo Show

It's become a yearly tradition at this point. Reporters ask the Giants manager how he'll find at-bats for Wilmer Flores, and then at some point during the season the staff needs a boost and throws Flores into the heart of the lineup on a nightly basis. Last year, Flores had a stretch when he mostly came off the bench -- and then ended up being the team's best hitter.

Until the past week, Flores looked headed for right-handed designated hitter duty and time at first base, but the Giants are finalizing a contract with Jorge Soler that should give Melvin an everyday DH.

"We'll see where that goes," Melvin said. "Wilmer is a tough one, man. I mean, that guy hits righties, hits lefties. He's so well respected, not only around the league but certainly in this clubhouse. You don't always have a full complement of players. Guys are going to get hurt, too, but I'll figure out a way to get him in there."

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