Editor’s note: Insider Andrew Baggarly chats from the Winter Meetings in Orlando Thursday at 12 p.m. right here
ORLANDO – The Giants once caught lightning in a bottle with Pat Burrell. Manager Bruce Bochy envisions some similar thunder from Mike Morse.
“For me, I thought he was our best option and it’s certainly what I wanted,” said Bochy, reached by phone as he prepared to check out of the winter meetings. “I’ve always liked him. He’s a threat up there.”
The Giants developed a number of other options via trade and free agency here but Bochy said none of them had the upside or potential impact of Morse, who is coming off a down year because of wrist trouble but smacked 31 home runs in 2011 for the Washington Nationals.
[RELATED: Giants sign OF Michael Morse]
Morse’s deal, which is pending a physical, is based off the $6 million guarantee and additional $7 million in incentives that Corey Hart received from the Seattle Mariners earlier in the week.
He’ll be out there every day, Bochy said. And not always in left field.
“He plays first, you know, and I did talk to an ex-manager of his who says he does a good job there,” Bochy said. “And he’s played some third base, too.”
Although Bochy said earlier this week that he envisioned Brandon Belt, Buster Posey, Hunter Pence and Pablo Sandoval occupying the Nos. 3-6 spots in the lineup, he might tweak it now that Morse is in the fold – especially against left-handed pitchers.
“I could see him possibly in that six hole, 5-6-7, somewhere in there,” Bochy said. “I like Belt in the 3-hole but that could change with lefties. How they’re swinging will dictate how it goes and where they’re hitting.
“But I’ll say this: We’ve got some pretty good threats in the lineup now. And someone’s gonna hit seventh who isn’t accustomed to it.”
Bochy knew that Morse would be an ideal fit in the clubhouse as well. He played for Bochy on a traveling All-Star team in Taiwan in 2011 and was struck by his worth ethic and upbeat personality.
Although Morse still must undergo a physical, Bochy said the Giants already had a preliminary examination done on him.
“He’s a great for us and what we need -- a right-handed bat with power,” Bochy said. “I guess you could make a comparable to when we acquired Pat Burrell in 2010. When this guy is healthy, and he is now, he can do some damage. It’s well worth any risk to bring him aboard.”
Bochy said Morse’s power is the kind that can translate to AT&T Park, “even to right field.” The Giants hit just five home runs among their left fielders last season, the fewest in the majors. The next lowest total was 10, by the Marlins and Blue Jays.
Bochy said he hasn’t spoken to Morse about too many specifics, but it’s reasonable to envision that he’d exit games for late-inning defense just as Burrell did when the club had a lead.
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“You bring in a Blanco off the bench, that’s a pretty good defender there,” Bochy said.
There’s one more reason to look forward to Morse’s arrival: His unorthodox, leg-raising act in the on-deck circle – a move he calls his “samurai cobra.” We’ll have to see what Hunter Pence thinks of that.
“Oh, it’ll be quite a blend, those two,” Bochy said.