Leading up to his first Cactus League start last season, Logan Webb’s rising status was highlighted by his budding relationship with his counterpart on the mound that night, All-Star sinkerballer Marcus Stroman. Now, with a full season firmly atop the Giants’ rotation, the mutual respect on display in his first spring start Monday afternoon carried even more weight.
Webb’s first assignment this spring: Mike Trout and Shohei Ohtani.
Before facing the Angels’ superstar duo, Webb exchanged greetings with Trout and Ohtani, whom Webb had never met nor faced (and one of whom, Ohtani, is setting up to be one of the hottest free-agent pursuits in history this winter).
“Whenever you get those guys tipping their hat at you, it’s pretty special,” Webb said after his outing in the eventual 8-6 exhibition win.
As for actually having to face them?
“I guess I’ve got to face the two best players in baseball,” Webb sighed. “I just didn’t want to be on SportsCenter.”
While Trout and Ohtani got the best of Webb, with two hard-hit singles up the middle, he induced a double-play to erase both from the base paths. It was Luis Rengifo who made Webb pay in his second frame, launching a line-drive, two-run home run over the right field wall.
Webb, whose turn in the rotation now lines up with Opening Day on March 30, completed two innings, allowed four hits and two earned runs, and recorded one strikeout, getting Brett Phillips looking to end his outing.
“I’ll still probably be on SportsCenter,” Webb said, reluctantly.
Dealing with the pitch clock in live action for the first time — no violations from Webb — and some mechanical adjustments he is working on this spring only added another wrinkle. And while he had some arm-side misses and allowed some hard contact, in the words of catcher Austin Wynns, “Logan Webb is Logan Webb.”
“Stuff wise, his stuff’s there,” Wynns said.
Winn shows off ‘gross’ splitter
If you thought Trout and Ohtani were a tough first assignment for an established ace such as Webb, consider who got to (had to?) face them in their second time through the order: 25-year-old Keaton Winn. While Winn, a product of Iowa Western JC, has risen quickly through San Francisco’s systems and garnered high praise through his first big-league camp, he hasn’t pitched above Double-A.
Yet, there he was in the third inning, standing 60 feet, 6 inches away from Trout and then, a batter later, Ohtani.
“Honestly,” Winn said, “my adrenaline was through the roof.”
Winn, whose best pitch is his splitter, paired with a fastball that reaches the upper 90s, got Trout to ground into a fielder’s choice, before getting deep into a battle with Ohtani. The count reached 3-2, and Ohtani watched one of Winn’s fastballs whistle across the outside corner for strike three.
“I’d just thrown two splitters in a row and he’d watched the second one for strike two,” Winn said. “I think he thought it was coming again, so I was like, I’ll try to go fastball.”
“He knew it, too,” Wynns said. “You saw (Ohtani) lean over, just like, ‘argh.’ That was sick.”
“It was awesome,” Winn said. “I kind of blacked out a little bit.”
And ohbytheway, did you catch the battery? Winn-Wynns, a good omen if there ever was one.
“I love it,” Wynns said. “His splitter’s gross.”
DeSclafani ‘hit hard’ in live BP
Anthony DeSclafani is one of the Giants’ last remaining pitchers who has yet to appear in a Cactus League game, but manager Gabe Kapler said his first start is coming in “the next couple days.” DeSclafani, who missed the final three months of last season after undergoing surgery on his ankle, is “ready to go,” Kapler said.
“He’s in a good spot,” Kapler said. “His velocity is where it needs to be. He’s in his delivery. He’s strong and athletic. He’s healthy. These are the main components here.”
In his most recent time facing live hitters, DeSclafani was hit hard, according to Kapler, but that’s not how he’s measuring success this early in the spring.
“He got hit hard, but like, so what?” Kapler said. “Nobody cares about that. There’s a lot of noise in how hard a guy is getting hit. …
“It’s probably not predictive of what’s going to happen in the next live BP or in the first outing of camp in a game situation. What is indicative and maybe predictive of what might happen is strike throwing and some velocity. Just not the hard-hit rate in that tiny sample size.”
— Outfielder Stephen Piscotty was hit by a pitch on his right thumb and exited the game one at-bat earlier than planned. While Piscotty appeared to be unconcerned afterward, he will get X-rays taken. “Anytime you see a guy in pain all the way down the first base line, you have some concern,” Kapler said afterward. “It didn’t feel like anything that’s going to be long-term.”
— The Angels tagged R.J. Dabovich for two runs on three hits, but Kapler was complimentary of the hard-throwing young reliever. “Dabo threw great. A ton of strikes, which is all we’re looking for from him,” Kapler said, noting it took a bad-luck bloop single to extend the Angels’ rally.
— First baseman LaMonte Wade Jr. laced a leadoff double the other way in his first at-bat, his second extra-base hit (both the other way) in as many Cactus League games. “This is what we’ve seen consistently from LaMonte,” Kapler said. “When he’s healthy, when he’s as mentally strong as he can be, the confidence just oozes out of him.”
Tuesday: Giants (2-1) vs. Padres, Scottsdale Stadium, 12:05 p.m. PT
Scheduled pitchers: RHP Alex Cobb, RHP Ross Stripling, RHP Tyler Rogers, LHP Taylor Rogers, RHP Nick Duron, LHP Erik Miller, LHP Daniel Tillo
Note: The Rogers twins will make their Cactus League debuts together, while Alex Cobb and Ross Stripling also see live action for the first time.
Wednesday: Giants vs. D-backs, Scottsdale Stadium, 12:05 p.m. PT
Scheduled pitchers: RHP Jakob Junis, LHP Sam Long, RHP John Brebbia, LHP Scott Alexander, RHP Camilo Doval, LHP Kyle Harrison, LHP Ronald Guzmán
Note: It will be the first Cactus League game for top prospect Kyle Harrison, as well as Ronald Guzmán, who is attempting to transition from a first baseman into a two-way player. The other five pitchers are all expected to make up part of the Giants’ Opening Day bullpen.
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