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Melvin breaks down Giants’ surprising Opening Day roster choices originally appeared on NBC Sports Bay Area

SAN DIEGO — Tuesday night was filled with happy moments for new Giants manager Bob Melvin, who got to tell young players like Landen Roupp and Erik Miller that they were headed to the big leagues for the first time, while also confirming suspicions for others like Tyler Fitzgerald, who already has made his debut but has not played on Opening Day yet. But there were also some tough conversations.

Before Thursday’s 2024 season opener at Petco Park, Melvin said the hardest cut happened with outfielder Luis Matos, who did not make the initial roster despite being one of the team’s best hitters all spring. Matos hit four home runs during the exhibition season with an OPS over 1.000, but the Giants ran out of room on the roster.

“You’re not being demoted by performance,” Melvin told Matos. “It’s simply a numbers game right now.”

The numbers could change as soon as Friday. Mike Yastrzemski is expected to fly back to San Francisco after the opener to be with his wife, Paige, who is due to give birth to the couple’s second child on Friday. The Giants will have an extra roster spot to play with and Matos is an option.

The 22-year-old wasn’t the only young player who ended up on the outside when the Giants released their initial 26 on Thursday. Marco Luciano came on strong at the end of the spring, but the Giants opted for veteran Nick Ahmed, a two-time Gold Glove Award winner with 10 years of MLB experience with the Arizona Diamondbacks.

Melvin said Luciano’s bat is big league-ready but they want him to continue developing defensively. There are no questions about Ahmed’s glove, and the veteran said this is where he expected to be after he signed a minor league deal with the Giants during camp. When did Ahmed feel he might make the team?

“In my mind, as soon as I signed,” he said. “You have to believe.”

With some imbalance on their roster, the Giants are counting on Fitzgerald to fill the gaps. They should have a more traditional look soon, although for at least a few games, they will carry three catchers.

Joey Bart is on the Opening Day roster and Melvin said the third catcher had a great spring and will provide some insurance early on. All sides know that Bart’s roster spot might soon be needed for someone else, and he’s out of options, but for now, Bart is happy to get another opportunity.

“It’s been the same thing, keep coming, keep bringing it, get better,” Bart said of his mindset. “The rest will play itself out.”

Melvin noted that the Giants got a scare when Patrick Bailey missed some time in camp. It’s hard to find catching depth, and they’re trying to hold on to three as long as they can.

“This is the way you’re starting, but you never know how it’s going to go after that,” he said. “As far as depth in the catcher position, you’re always a foul tip away from being in a bad spot.”

The Giants initially started with just 12 pitchers, with Roupp and Miller making the bullpen. Miller gives them a second lefty and Roupp can go multiple innings since he has been a starter his whole career. The 25-year-old has tremendous stuff and the Giants purposefully threw him against some tough lineups in Arizona. He responded, earning a spot over players with far more experience.

That list includes Daulton Jefferies, who appeared to have the inside track on a job. Melvin said Jefferies performed well and could be on the roster “real soon.”

For the players who were left out Thursday, that might end up becoming a theme.

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