SAN FRANCISCO — Denard Span sat down for his first media day at AT&T Park and reiterated what he said at his introductory press conference: He’s here to win, and he doesn’t care where he plays on the field.
For the first time, though, manager Bruce Bochy confirmed that Span won’t have to make any changes in his first season with the Giants.
“Right now, Denard will be out there in center field and leading off,” Bochy said Friday.
The Giants wouldn’t go that far publicly last month when Span signed a three-year, $31 million deal, mostly out of respect to incumbent Angel Pagan. Bochy wanted to speak with Pagan on the phone before moving him to left field, and the two spoke a few weeks ago and will do so again when position players report to spring training later this month.
“Angel wants to win like everyone else,” Bochy said. “As we get to camp, he and I will talk more. I’m sure his preference is to stay in center field. That’s normal for any player. The one nice characteristic we’ve had on this club is unselfishness.”
Pagan isn’t in town for FanFest because his family welcomed a third daughter recently, but in the past, he has always taken great pride in playing center field. The Giants understand that, but as one coach pointed out Friday, they also know that Pagan has all the motivation in the world to push past any disappointment. He will be a free agent at the end of the season, and at 34, this is likely his last chance at one more big MLB payday.
Pagan hit just .262 last season with a .306 OBP, his lowest since 2007, but Giants coaches believe he’s in for a huge year. Hitting coach Hensley Meulens has kept in regular contact with Pagan and said the outfielder is in tremendous shape. That has never been a concern for Pagan, but he has had trouble staying on the field. The Giants are hopeful that a move to left will help Pagan avoid some of the nagging strains that have cost him time the last three seasons.
The coaches haven’t yet decided where Pagan will hit in the lineup, but he’s viewed as a valuable piece because he hits from both sides of the plate. Bochy said Pagan could hit second at times, and he could be used to break up lefties (Brandon Belt, Brandon Crawford, Joe Panik, Gregor Blanco when he’s starting). Bochy and Meulens spent time talking about the lineup on Friday, and they're focused on splitting up same-side hitters and maximizing matchups.
It’s possible that Hunter Pence, one of the best power hitters in the league, will hit as low as sixth in a stacked lineup. It’s possible — even probable — that Silver Slugger winner Brandon Crawford will hit eighth. Giants coaches smiled when talking about the permutations, and they’ll continue to discuss tweaks as camp opens this week.
One thing is certain: Span will hit first. After that, Bochy has moves to make.
“The lineup is not set in stone,” he said. “We’re still talking about it.”