Decision near at second base? Just part of the intrigue
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — It was tempting to derive significance from Emmanuel Burriss’ second consecutive start at second base on Sunday. Previously, Giants manager Bruce Bochy had alternated Burriss and Kevin Frandsen day by day, virtually without fail.
But Bochy declined to say that this meant Burriss, who’s hitting .362, had won the second base tug-of-war with Frandsen, who’s batting .286.
Asked if anything should be read into Burriss’ back-to-back starts, Bochy replied, “Right now, no. I knew with (Pablo) Sandoval down (with a mild left ankle injury) that I was going to split the game at third. Instead of moving Franny from second to third, I was going to give him the back half of the game there.” Frandsen replaced Rich Aurilia, who started his second game of the spring at third base, in the fifth inning.
Still, the Giants’ apparent interest in seeing what Frandsen can do at other positions creates the appearance that Burriss will secure the second base job. If it’s any comfort to Frandsen’s faithful legion of fans, he’d still have a good chance to make the Opening Day roster as a reserve.
The returns of Keiichi Yabu and Ramon Ortiz from Minor League camp constituted another intriguing development. Installing a long reliever in the bullpen would make it easier for the Giants to open the season with an 11-man pitching staff (and keep an additional deserving position player on the roster, such as Frandsen, Andres Torres or Eugenio Velez). The Giants have experimented with their existing bullpen candidates by using them in multiple-inning stints. But Yabu, who often pitched in long relief last year for the Giants, and Ortiz, a former starter, could be better-suited for the role than anyone remaining in big league camp.
Bochy didn’t hide the Giants’ intentions while indicating that either Yabu, who yielded the game’s only run on Richie Weeks’ fifth-inning homer, or Ortiz could return.
“We’re staying open-minded here,” Bochy said. “… It (recalling players during Spring Training who have been sent to the Minors) is not unusual at all. We tell these guys that when you go down there, you’re not out of the picture. If we have the opportunity, we’ll bring you back. They’ve been doing what they need to be doing, and that’s throw the ball well down there.”
This final item isn’t controversial, Earth-shaking or intriguing at all. Just worth mentioning. Giants first baseman Travis Ishikawa turned in probably the club’s finest defensive play of the spring when he hurled himself to his right, snared Mike Lamb’s grounder and righted himself in time to flip the ball to Yabu covering first for the out.
Ishikawa looked like the reincarnation of J.T. Snow.
“That’s a highlight play right there,” Bochy said.
Ishikawa, a genuinely modest individual, couldn’t hide his delight.
“Those are the kind that you dream about, feeling like you get full extension and completing the play,” he said. “Offensively, I might not always be there, but (I’ll be) giving my all on defense as well.”
At various times this spring, Ishikawa has benefited from the tutelage of Snow and Will Clark, who made first base the glamorous position that it was when Orlando Cepeda and Willie McCovey roamed the bag (and the batter’s box) for the Giants.
“You’ve got two of the better first basemen who ever played,” Ishikawa said, referring to Clark and Snow. “What better first baseman’s dream is that? Two Gold Glove-winning first basemen working with you — it doesn’t get better than that.”
— Chris Haft