SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Before the bottom of the sixth inning Wednesday night, there was an announcement over the Scottsdale Stadium loudspeakers. Team USA, scrimmaging with the Giants prior to the World Baseball Classic, had four defensive substitutions.

At first base, Pete Alonso. At short, Bobby Witt Jr.

There’s nothing more routine than mid-game changes in a spring exhibition. The guys entering in the middle innings aren’t typically home run derby champions and former top prospects — speaking to the depth of the Americans’ lineup that San Francisco manager Gabe Kapler called “ridiculous” — so for good reason, those two names caught the crowd’s attention.

The moment, though, undoubtedly meant more to the other two names.

At third base, Carter Aldrete. And in left field, Michael Gigliotti.

Not members of the national team, no, but rather two of seven Giants minor leaguers selected to serve cameos alongside the star-studded American roster. Along with Aldrete, 26, and Gigliotti, 27, Wil Jenson, Evan Gates, Hayden Cantrelle, Shane Matheny and Ryan Walker all suited up for Team USA, and all but two (Jensen and Walker) made it into the game, which, by the way, the Giants won by a score of 5-1.

Afterward, Matheny, who pinch-ran for Mookie Betts in the top of the fifth, and Gigliotti each described the experience as a “dream come true.” While both have filled in during Cactus League games this spring, Matheny’s 15-game stint at the end of last season with Triple-A Sacramento represented the only experience above Double-A for any of the seven players.

“That’s always been a dream of mine, to play for Team USA,” said Matheny, a 23rd-round pick in 2017 who last year converted from an infielder to an outfielder (not unlike Betts). “This was kind of dipping my toes in. …  It was one of the better days of my life so far.”

It may have meant even more to Gigliotti, which Matheny can attest to after sharing a locker room for much of last season at Double-A Richmond. Acquired from Tampa Bay in the minor-league portion of the Rule 5 draft in December 2021, Gigliotti’s first season in the Giants’ organization was cut short last August.

Chasing down a fly ball, Gigliotti dove and broke his collarbone. It required surgery. There is still metal inside him from the operation. By Christmas, he had begun swinging a bat again. And on Wednesday, that rehab was rewarded in a big way.

“I just told …read more

Source:: The Mercury News


Playing alongside Team USA ‘dream come true’ for SF Giants minor leaguers

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