Giants Opening Day lineup: Third base, catcher, left field surprises

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Giants' Opening Day lineup features surprises at three spots originally appeared on NBC Sports Bayarea

NEW YORK -- Mays. Bonds. Crawford.

That's the list of Giants who have made a dozen consecutive Opening Day starts at the same position. It became official Thursday morning when the Giants set their roster and lineup for the season opener against the New York Yankees and Gerrit Cole, who is Brandon Crawford's brother-in-law. Crawford continued a streak at shortstop that goes back to 2012, his first full season.

The lineup included some surprises, with veteran Roberto Perez getting the nod over Joey Bart behind the plate and Wilmer Flores starting at third base instead of David Villar. Manager Gabe Kapler said Perez and Bart will both catch plenty, but he wanted the veteran paired with Logan Webb because of the magnitude of the stage at Yankee Stadium.

As for third base, Villar will still be the primary starter. But Kapler called the opener against the Yankees “unique” and “special.”

“Wilmer Flores earned the right to be in the middle of our lineup,” Kapler said.

In the outfield, rookie Blake Sabol becomes the 17th different player to start in left field for the Giants over the last 17 years, a streak that started with Barry Bonds. The 25-year-old was drafted by the Pittsburgh Pirates and selected by the Cincinnati Reds with the fourth pick in the Rule 5 Draft in December, with the Reds immediately sending him to the Giants.

Sabol came to camp with an outside shot of winning a catching job and spent most of the spring focused on that transition, but when Mitch Haniger strained his oblique and Austin Slater hurt his hamstring, the Giants moved Sabol back to the outfield. He had a 1.106 OPS in the spring with three homers.

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Sabol’s debut will come in one of the more difficult environments for opposing outfielders, but he said he was looking forward to the atmosphere.

“It’s a privilege just to be out there,” Sabol said. “Anything they say to me, I’m just going to have a big smile on my face.”

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