SAN FRANCISCO — The new left fielder also ended up being the new leadoff hitter.
Manager Bruce Bochy said Thursday that Nori Aoki will hit atop the lineup for the time being, with Angel Pagan moving down to third against right-handed hitters and possibly hitting fifth against lefties. Bochy headed to Scottsdale in February thinking Aoki could hit seventh, but the former Milwaukee Brewer and Kansas City Royal has primarily hit atop the lineup in his career.
After a slow start to the spring, Aoki came on in the final weeks.
“I think he’s done a nice job there,” Bochy said. “I like him at the top of the order.”
Pagan, hampered by back soreness this spring, has an at-bat deficit to make up, particularly against left-handed hitters. Bochy talked to him early in camp about the possibility of moving down in the lineup, giving the Giants a bit more thump with Pablo Sandoval and Michael Morse playing on the East Coast and Hunter Pence out with a fractured forearm.
Bochy has long had Joe Panik locked into the No. 2 spot and Buster Posey and Brandon Belt are hitting behind Pagan on Thursday in what looked like a lineup the Giants will use when the regular season starts. Justin Maxwell was set to start in right field Thursday against left-hander Scott Kazmir, and while Gregor Blanco figures to get most of the time against right-handers, Bochy said he will keep Maxwell involved.
“He had a great spring,” Bochy said. “He’s going to be in the mix here. I’m trying to get him as much playing time as I can.”