SF Giants transactions: Kensuke Tanaka makes major-league debut, w/GIF

A team grasping at straws, the Giants made two moves before Tuesday’s game against the Mets.

First, they placed Hector Sanchez on the disabled list with an injury I care less about than Phish cares about brevity. Mike Kickham gets his third trip to the big-league roster to replace the Giants’ third catcher. But the bizarre move was the call-up of Kensuke Tanaka, the Japanese import that lost a backup infield role when his bat and glove failed him in Spring Training.

The move was so bizarre it almost worked. Upon being recalled, Tanaka was immediately written into the lineup as the starting left fielder and No. 2 hitter. Who he was vexed the more casual fan, while the Lunatic Fringe was curious why a guy who has played nine games in American outfields was ready for a corner spot in AT&T.

Then there was The Catch. No, Dwight Clark or T.O. didn’t show up. But this happened:


h/t to @gidget

Follow that up with his first big-league hit and another trip to the base paths via a walk, and it was a hell of a debut for Tanaka. Not so much for the rest of the Giants, who gave up double-digits to the Mets. But let’s focus on the positives.

I am leading the train of “hold your horses” on Tanaka. He got a decent shot at multiple positions in spring and proved to be a clank-mitt. At 32, there isn’t much room for his raw tools to improve. But left field is a mess, with Andres Torres doing his best Tanaka-in-spring and Angel Pagan’s return nowhere in sight. It can’t hurt to have a happy-to-be-there guy with a flashy smile who is playing for his job every day he is on the field. Also the Giants DFA’d Cole Gillespie to make room. Ho hum.

Sanchez’s departure solves a lot of the head-scratching about three catchers being on the roster when the bullpen is burnt and left field looks like this:


h/t internet

Even when healthy, Sanchez is a fringy pinch-hitter who needs reps if the Giants ever plan on making him the everyday catcher. Which they will in 2015 when Buster Posey becomes a corner infielder. There isn’t even a joke to be made here. I think that’s the plan.

Kickham has shown that he has the velocity and (sometimes) enough command to get hitters out in spurts, something that can be more useful in relief. I wouldn’t be surprised if he spends the next three months as a pitcher who often appears in the 6th or 7th inning. The real quetion is: glasses or no glasses?