LOS ANGELES — It took Christian Arroyo about five minutes to convince his mom that a call to the big leagues was real. He had considerably more success the first time he tried to convince the coaching staff to challenge the play.
Manager Bruce Bochy has had some trouble in recent years with players who believe they’re never on the wrong side of a potential review, but Arroyo was right on the money when he pointed at the bench and asked for a second look at third base in the sixth inning Tuesday. More importantly, he showed he’s a quick learner.
On Saturday, Arroyo didn’t keep a tag on Will Myers long enough at second, which cost the Giants an out. Three days later, he stayed with the play and tagged Austin Barnes on the finger as he desperately tried to dive back into a base he had gone past. Arroyo said Hunter Pence and Brandon Crawford talked to him Saturday and reminded him that replay will often back up a big league infielder on those plays.
“The first time it happened it was just really weird because Myers didn’t even slide (on the stolen base attempt). I went to tag him and I thought he was out anyway, and I went to show the tag and that I had him out, and (the umpire) called him safe and he was flying past the bag,” Arroyo said. “It was just kind of one of those awkward plays, a first experience with replay, and I had really never dealt with replay before. With replay, they told me to make sure you keep it on them.
“As soon as I got that throw from Hunter (on Tuesday) I saw that Barnes was running pretty hard and he was going to have a late slide. I figured that maybe we had a chance and I tried to hold (the tag) on the bag, and he came off.”
The adjustment was minor, but that’s been the case with everything the Giants have asked of Arroyo defensively. His bat got him up here, but the glove has been right there in terms of impact through 10 games. Arroyo has made a pair of flashy barehanded grabs and he showed a spectacular diving stop Tuesday. Ron Wotus, who coaches the infielders, said he hasn’t felt the need to adjust much since Arroyo was called up and put at a relatively new position.
“There’s nothing glaring that he needs to do,” Wotus said. “We talk every day about learning the league and learning our pitchers, but right now there’s more of that taking place. Everything else is just minor technique stuff. If you can play shortstop you can play anywhere on the field and he’s shown that. Being closer to the batter (at third), I’ve seen some infielders have a difficult time with that adjustment, but we haven’t seen any signs of that with him. I like what I’ve seen.”
Some scouting reports on Arroyo in the minors noted that his arm might be a little short for third, and a few dipping throws in spring training concerned coaches. But Arroyo has made an adjustment, saying he’s working on “staying on my legs and staying low when I throw to prevent errors and getting sink on the ball.”
That’s one area Arroyo focuses on. The other will simply improve with time.
“It’s just about getting more comfortable with positioning,” he said. “At third, because I haven’t played it that much, I don’t really know the extent of my range, so I don’t really know necessarily how far I can go right or how far I can go left. I think that’s probably the biggest thing.”
The Giants aren’t concerned. In time, Arroyo will fully learn the spacing at a new position. He was drafted a shortstop and he has just 58 professional starts at third, but he looks more than capable of settling in there and giving them another strong glove on the infield.
"He’s got good hands, good quickness, a good arm," Bochy said. "He’s a nice defender and he probably doesn’t get credit for how good he is defensively because there’s a lot of talk about him offensively. With time, I think he’ll get the credit he deserves.”