HOUSTON Joaquin Arias leads all major leaguers with a .426average in August, and as you might expect, the Giants are trying to deviseways to get his bat in the lineup.
Giants manager Bruce Bochy even asked Arias last week if the27-year-old would feel comfortable in left field. Arias, who has played all oftwo major league innings in the outfield, said he would be willing to give it atry.
Bochy also acknowledged the staff has kicked around thepossibility of putting Arias at second base and Marco Scutaro in left field.But Bochy termed those plans as longshots, and neither Arias nor Scutaro has begun taking flyballs.
Weve already got (Ryan) Theriot out there, Bochy said.We dont want to make it look too much like a tryout.
The most likely spot to wedge Arias into the lineup is thirdbase, actually. Pablo Sandoval is in a 2-for-14 slump over his past four gamesand is hitting just .220 with no home runs in 15 games since returning from thedisabled list because of a strained hamstring.
His timing is just off, Bochy said of Sandoval. Hes latewith his setup. When youre fouling balls off, youre late. Youre not ready.He went through this when he came back from his last injury, and right when hecame out of it, he got hurt again.
Balance is key for all hitters. Hes got great balance whenhes going well. He can get out in front and still get a base hit, but what youwant to do is stay back.
Arias isnt in Thursdays lineup as the Giants go for athree-game sweep at Minute Maid Park, but he is available off the bench despitegetting hit by a pitch on his left wrist Wednesday night.
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Bochy said he wouldve put Arias in the outfield Tuesday ifhe had to pinch hit for left fielder Gregor Blanco, which almost happened.
The manager also pointed out that Arias was asked to try centerfield shortly after the Texas Rangers acquired him from the Yankees in 2005 before injuring his shoulder out there. (He never played an inning in the outfield in parts of 10 minor league seasons, though. Maybe the injury occurred in instructional league or the spring?)
However his injury occurred, Arias shoulder issues kept him fromfulfilling his potential as a top prospect. In a well traveled anecdote, theRangers selected him over a list of other prospects that included Robinson Canoto complete the Alex Rodriguez trade.
As Matt Cain can confirm, Arias' arm strength isn't an issue anymore.
In other pregame news, Madison Bumgarner is already on hisway to Chicago for Fridays 1:20 p.m. (CDT) start. Bochy said he plans toevaluate his players after Thursday nights game before he decides who will beOK to make the quick turn and play at Wrigley Field. Good chance Buster Poseywill be at first base, or off entirely.
This is the last time the Giants will face the HoustonAstros as a member of the senior circuit. The Astros are moving to the AmericanLeague West next season. This is a wistful development for Bochy, who wasdrafted and developed in Houstons system and made his big league debut inthose glorious orange and yellow-striped polyester uniforms.
Itll take some getting used to, Bochy said.