Kruk & Kuip: Walks have been the Achilles heel
"I like leading off. I feel pretty fast on the basepaths right now. It’s fun to have a chance to spark something." -- Hunter Pence (AP)
ST. PETERSBURG, Fla. – If you’re not going to hit home runs, and the Giants have just five of them in 16 games since the All-Star break, then you’d better get some action on the basepaths.
You’d better get your leadoff man aboard.
Instead, the No.1 hitter is the Giants’ No.1 problem right now. Gregor Blanco and Andres Torres have been in dry dock since the break.
And Bruce Bochy is ready to jump ship.
[RECAP: Giants drop rubber match to Rays]
The manager will choose a new leadoff hitter Monday, when the Giants begin a seven-game homestand with the Brewers and Orioles. It’ll probably be Marco Scutaro. It could be Hunter Pence.
It sure as heck won’t be Gregor Blanco or Andres Torres, who have combined to hit 6 for 61 (.098) with a .174 on-base percentage since the All-Star break. They’ve scored a paltry four runs from the No.1 spot over that span.
“We have to change this up,” Bochy said. “We’re not getting production. They’re having a tough time. … It’s time to change things. We can’t get them on base.”
Blanco is in a 5-for-49 slump over his last 16 games. The Giants haven’t gotten multiple runs scored from the leadoff spot since Blanco’s four-run game July 12 at San Diego.
Scutaro started 38 games in the leadoff spot last year, 36 times with Colorado and twice with the Giants. He has 352 career starts in the No.1 spot.
Pence hasn’t batted leadoff since 2008 with Houston; he started 32 games atop the order in ’07 and ’08 for the Astros. He hit .279 with a .320 on-base percentage in those games.
He also recalled batting some leadoff in the minors and at UT-Arlington. And from the sound of it, he might have back channeled the idea to Bochy.
“I like leading off,” said Pence, who has hit one home run since June 30 and was moved from fifth to sixth in the series at Tropicana Field, where the Giants dropped two of three.
“I feel pretty fast on the basepaths right now. It’s fun to have a chance to spark something. It’d be something to be in front of Scutaro and Sandoval and Posey. I’m an aggressive swinger. You can set a little bit of a tone, you know?"
If Scutaro batted leadoff, Bochy has considered moving Brandon Crawford, who had a hot road trip, to No.2 in the order against right-handers. He could bat Joaquin Arias there against lefties.
“These are some of the things I’m thinking about,” the manager said.
For now, the Giants are back to where they were in 2011 – when Carlos Beltran said the No.1 need the team needed to address was to get a leadoff hitter in the offseason. The club traded for Angel Pagan, who helped to lead them to a World Series.
But Pagan is out until September, if not the season, after surgery to repair a damaged hamstring tendon.
Bochy said he is considering only personnel on the current roster; Triple-A Fresno center fielder Gary Brown, a former No.1 pick, is not under consideration.