SAN FRANCISCO – Giants manager Bruce Bochy followed through on his promise to try a new leadoff hitter, and he didn’t stop there.
Bochy unveiled a completely reworked top of the batting order for Monday’s opener of a four-game series against the Milwaukee Brewers.
Marco Scutaro, not surprisingly, was penciled in at leadoff in place of the struggling Gregor Blanco. Brandon Crawford was moved up into the second spot, and, in an unexpected wrinkle, Hunter Pence was inserted in the No. 3 spot, with Pablo Sandoval batting fifth behind Buster Posey.
Anything to kick-start a lineup that ranks dead last in the National League in runs since the All-Star break.
“Sometimes it’s just good to break it up,” Bochy said.
Blanco and Andres Torres entered Monday a combined 6-for-61 with a .174 on-base percentage from the leadoff spot since the All-Star break. Blanco was dropped to the eighth spot Monday against Brewers right-hander Tyler Thornburg, and the hope is that Scutaro can provide something remotely close to the spark he did during last season’s run to a World Series title.
The veteran second baseman entered Monday hitting .310 this season, mostly as the No. 2 hitter. Scutaro has made 352 starts in the leadoff spot in his career and saw significant time atop the order while with Boston and Toronto.
He shrugged off the lineup shift before Monday’s game.
“I won’t change anything,” Scutaro said. “I know my game. You gotta know what your game is. My approach is always going to be the same, even if they hit me third or fourth. I’ll keep doing the things that I do -- try to get on base. That’s my game.”
“He’s a patient hitter,” Bochy said. “He’s not afraid to hit with two strikes on him. He finds a way to get on base. If you look at his numbers, they’re pretty good. And right now, we gotta get somebody on base at the top of the order.”
The Giants have hit just five homers in 16 games since the All-Star break, so they need to try to generate runs via any route possible.
Neither Sandoval nor Posey, the Giants’ 3-4 hitters all season, are lighting up the box score right now. Sandoval hit .208 with no homers and three RBI on a recently completed six-game road trip. Posey is 8 for 43 (.186) over his last 13 games.
“As much as anything, (the change) is to break it up a little bit, put guys in a little different role,” Bochy said. “With Hunter, it gives you a little speed there at the top of the order.”
Bochy offered a strong take on the suspension of 13 players Monday, including Alex Rodriguez, for use of performance-enhancing drugs. Specifically, Bochy was asked about the fact that some players around the majors have been outspoken with critical comments about those exposed as using PEDs.
“I don’t blame them,” the manager said. “If you’re not doing it, you’re upset at somebody that is cheating and taking PEDs. You want a level playing field. That’s all you ask as a competitor. … It’s not like this is just coming into the game. This has been going on now for a few years. There’s been testing, and the fact that guys are still trying it, (other players) should be upset. It’s time to end this.”