Brandon Crawford

Giants sign Ryan Theriot, Clay Hensley to non-guaranteed contracts

Henry Schulman had an interesting note about the San Francisco Giants signing Ryan Theriot, who’ll compete for a utility spot:

Sabean loves competition, especially when the incumbent is a young player. Like most GMs, too, he doesn’t like to set his team in stone before spring training even begins. Bring in a bunch of guys, let them play, and laissez les bons temps rouler!

Fans and players like defined roles. Fans would love to see their favorite baseball team have an 8-man lineup of excellent position players set in granite by February 1, all set to play 158-162 games.

Players are in a constant fight for security. Everyone wants to see their name on the lineup sheet after tryouts, and when thousands (or millions) of dollars are on the line competition is especially nerve-wracking — even though daily competition against opponents constitutes the job description.

Brian Sabean loves it when a rookie sees a wily veteran shows up in a young players’s rearview mirror, particularly when the young player subsequently wets himself and the veteran zooms past in his 1971 Dodge Charger.

Brandon Crawford’s one of the young guys who’ll try to avoid breaking the seal in Scottsdale. Same with Emmanuel Burriss.

Theriot’s contract details:

Theriot’s deal is pending a physical and not guaranteed, which means the Giants could cut Theriot by March 18 and pay him $208,333, or $312,500 between March 18 and the start of the season.

What we didn’t know before: Fontenot’s deal isn’t guaranteed either.

Freddy P. Soft Sanchez

Maybe it’s just a coincidence that Jim Harbaugh’s name for “a fictional character who plants his little imaginary self on players’ shoulders and tells them how great they are” has the same middle initial as Freddy Sanchez. But if you watched the Giants’ latest episode of “Inside the Clubhouse,” the sight of Sanchez wearing that huge shoulder brace couldn’t have made you feel good if you’re expecting 158-162 games for Freddy P.

While throwing Theriot in the mix would seem to represent bad tidings for Crawford and/or Fontenot, this move might be just as much about Sanchez … and Burriss.

Sanchez hits right-handed and can only play 2B. Crawford his left-handed and can only play SS. Fontenot can play either position and bats left-handed, while both Theriot and Burriss hit right-handed (Burriss is a switch-hitter … duh) and can play either position.

Without Theriot, if Sanchez wasn’t ready on Opening Day or hits the disabled list at any time (longshot, I know), the only Giants middle-infielders would be Crawford, Fontenot and Burriss. That just wouldn’t do, especially against left-handed starters … so I have the feeling that Theriot and Fontenot will be teammates once again, with Burriss ending up on some other NL West team by April. Then again, I figured the Giants would let Eli Whiteside find a job elsewhere, so take this fistful of salt on your way out the door.

The Giants have oodles of lineup questions, most of them are directly related to whether Sanchez and Buster Posey are fully ready to contribute — no guarantees there, in either case. How many catchers? How many infielders? What about Brett Pill? Is this team mature enough to carry one young Brandon, let alone two???

Spring training production’s going to change the lives of several players on the bubble. Not good news for those who abhor small sample size theater, but Scottsdale’s going to seem like heaven to Sabean.

Clay’s versatility: he’s wicked on triangle and cowbell

In another example of the Giants bringing the band back together — if the “band” consists of every single pitcher they ever drafted who got traded to another organization — Clay Hensley signed a $750K non-guaranteed deal yesterday. He and Boof Bonser currently represent the ex-Giants farmhands trying to replicate the Ryan Vogelsong Experience, but you never know … Kurt Ainsworth could be just around the corner.

Hensley’s started some during his career, but his career season came in 2010 when he pitched exclusively out of the bullpen with the Marlins. So count on him becoming the fifth starter after Barry Zito drops a pan full of avocado scramble on his foot.

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