Rowand ascends to leadoff spot

SAN DIEGO — At the very moment I started to write this, Aaron Rowand doubled off the left-field wall in Wednesday’s fifth inning for his second hit of the game against the San Diego Padres.

Perhaps that’s an indication that manager Bruce Bochy’s lineup innovation will help Rowand and the Giants.

Bochy moved Rowand to the leadoff berth, which he last occupied May 30, 2007 as a member of the Philadelphia Phillies.

“I just wanted to shake things up a little bit,” went Bochy’s simple explanation. After all, the Giants ranked 14th in the National League in runs scored entering Wednesday.

Rowand, who has hit fifth, sixth and seventh this season, backed Bochy’s decision.

“He asked me what my thoughts were, and I said, ‘I don’t mind,’ ” Rowand said. “If he wants to put me in the ‘one’ hole, I’m completely fine with it.”

Rowand also joked, “I told him it’s about time he realized he should put speed at the top of the lineup, anyway.”

Though Rowand began the game with a .246 batting average, he probably can’t do much worse than the recent Giants leadoff hittters. Fred Lewis and Emmanuel Burriss hit proficiently lower in the order but slumped when Bochy switched them to leadoff. Lewis and Burriss batted .197 and .148, respectively, at leadoff.

Overall, the Giants’ leadoff numbers have been dreadful. Their No. 1 hitters began this game ranked last in the NL in several offensive categories, including batting average (.208), runs (14) and OPS (on-base plus slugging percentage, .555). The respective league averages in those categories were .265, 25 and .720.

Rowand spent some time at leadoff during his 2001-05 tenure with the Chicago White Sox, starting 59 games in 73 appearances at that spot before Wednesday. His performance as a leadoff man was respectable, demonstrated by his .293 average and .882 OPS. Rowand also collected 15 home runs and 43 RBIs in 259 at-bats while hitting leadoff.

Of course, a leadoff batter might actually hit first only once a game, as Rowand noted. Thus, he said he felt no pressure to change his hitting approach. “It’s not anything different from hitting anywhere else in the lineup,” he said.

— Chris Haft 



Maybe, for the Giants, the leadoff spot makes hot hitters turn cold, and makes slumping hitters hot? Whatever it is, if Rowand can keep hitting like he did last night, keep him there! I just wish someone could have driven him home at least ONE of those three times he got a hit…😦
Kinda unrelated, but I hope Kevin Frandsen gets a hit before he gets sent back down!!! It looks so bad to have no average, even though he’s been doing pretty well defensively.

I am totally rooting for Frandsen too, I want him to do well.

But that’s not just fanboy wishing, he’s actually been a good hitter all through the minors, and he hit really well for the Giants when he was semi-starting in late 2007. His injury last year couldn’t have been more poorly timed, he probably would have been our 3B last season if that didn’t happen, then moved to 2B when Durham was traded.

Good luck to Rowand, leadoff has been a sinkhole that has hurt our offense immensely. When Roberts was injured and unproductive leading off for us, we lost a lot of games, which shows how important leadoff is to the offense, getting it started early in the game, that batter bats twice in the first 2-3 innings.

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