NAPA, Calif. -- The Giants still have question marks at several positions as they prepare to decamp to Arizona for the start of Spring Training next week, but they can rest assured knowing that catcher isn’t one of them.
After establishing himself as one of the premier defensive backstops in baseball last year, Patrick Bailey is expected to reprise his starting role behind the plate and lead a catching group that includes newcomer
Tom Murphy, who joined the Giants on a two-year, $8.25 million deal this offseason.
Bailey’s emergence as the Giants’ catcher of the future was one of the few bright spots of an otherwise disappointing 2023 campaign, as the 24-year-old was named a National League Gold Glove Award finalist as a rookie. Bailey was ultimately edged by
Gabriel Moreno of the rival D-backs, but he said he remains motivated to continue to improve with the glove in 2024 and beyond.
“It was obviously a cool feeling to be recognized, especially with that group of catchers,” Bailey said at the Giants’ third FanFest Tour stop on Saturday. “Every year, I’m trying to put out the best product I can and be the best defender I can possibly be and control what I can control.”
Bailey has acknowledged that he wore down physically toward the end of the season after appearing in a career-high 125 games between the Majors and the Minors in 2023, so he focused on building his strength back this winter to ensure that he can do a better job of withstanding the workload in his second year in the big leagues.
“I lost a lot of weight during the season last year,” said Bailey, who estimated that he dropped as much as 15 pounds in 2023. “I felt like I lost a lot of strength towards the end. That’s probably been the biggest emphasis. Swing-wise, from the left side, just simplifying as much as I can. Just to be able to hopefully repeat the swing and I guess make it easier for myself.”
Bailey got to spend some time with new manager
Bob Melvin on Saturday and said he’s looking forward to playing for the former big league catcher. He’s also eager to get to know Jordan Hicks and Robbie Ray, the Giants’ top two pitching acquisitions this offseason.
“I’m really excited about both of them,” Bailey said. “Obviously, you’ve got Robbie Ray, who’s been a Cy Young Award winner. That’s pretty valuable. And then Jordan Hicks throwing 100 mph sinkers as a starter is going to be pretty fun.”
With Ray (Tommy John surgery) and Alex Cobb (left hip surgery) expected to be out until midseason, the Giants will be relying on young starters like Kyle Harrison, Keaton Winn and Tristan Beck to cover gaps in the rotation early in the year, but Bailey said he’s confident the trio will be able to step in and deliver.
“I think Kyle, Keaton and Tristan had really, really good years last year,” Bailey said. “I think more than anything, it’s just kind of building confidence that they can be successful big league pitchers. I think all of them earned the opportunity they’re going to get this year. Hopefully we can keep building off the success they had last year.”