June 8, 2011
URBAN ARCHIVEGIANTS PAGE GIANTS VIDEOMychael UrbanCSNBayArea.com
Thanks to wave after wave of injuries, inconsistent play and epic slumps, Giants manager Bruce Bochy hasn't had the luxury of many "no-brainer" decisions this year.Starting Tim Lincecum on Opening Day was one. Brian Wilson getting the ball in the ninth inning of a close game is one of the skipper's few regular "duhs." Ditto penciling in Freddy Sanchez at second base -- as long as he's healthy.Pretty much everything else that's crossed Bochy's plate has required thoughtful consideration, consternation, concentration.Until now. Add to the list of locks: rookie Brandon Crawford as the starting shortstop.Bochy won't come right out and say it yet, but after Crawford on Wednesday turned in the defensive play of the game, singled, tripled in the go-ahead run in the seventh and scored a big insurance run moments later in San Francisco's 3-1 victory over the Nationals, he came close.
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Bochy barely contained a smile when he was asked, point-blank, if Crawford still will be his guy when third baseman Pablo Sandoval returns from his minor-league rehab stint."I'll say he'll be there quite a bit," Bochy said, mindful as always not to ruffle any veteran feathers. "You have to be impressed with the job he's done out there."Even the veteran whose feathers figure to be most ruffled, Miguel Tejada, is impressed."Oh, man," Tejada said, eyes wide in genuine admirationamazement upon being asked about Crawford, who snapped out of a 3-for-16 homestand slide Wednesday. "He's going to be special, man. Real special."Thing is, Crawford's already looking like something special. That "it" people talk about? Crawford has it, and it comes through in body language that exudes supreme confidence without a whiff of arrogance. A member of Single-A San Jose's championship club last season, and again immediately before being called up May 11, Crawford is a prospect no longer.He's Big-League Brandon."He believes," Bochy said. "He's got that sense of belonging."URBAN: The Cain & Crawford show
His skills belong at this level, too. The diving play he made to stop a sure RBI single from shooting into center field in the top of the seventh was impressive on its own; that he quickly bounced to his feet and threw a rocket to first base for the out was next-level stuff."That play up the middle," Bochy said with a subtle shake of his head, "we haven't seen that in a while."Certainly not from Tejada, who was moved to third base when Sandoval, who is targeting next Tuesday, returns to the roster.And when that happens -- it's a no-brainer, right? -- Tejada will move to the bench.