SURPRISE, Ariz. — There was no change to Hunter Pence’s timetable Friday. As they said when the fractured forearm first happened, the Giants expect their right fielder to miss six to eight weeks.
Manager Bruce Bochy has spent part of the last 24 hours thinking about Plan B, and he’ll start experimenting with options on Saturday. Bochy said Nori Aoki would hit leadoff in an exhibition against the Padres, with Angel Pagan moving down to the No. 3 spot. Pagan hit down in the order early in the 2012 season but has been a leadoff hitter in every one of his starts the past two seasons. Without Pence, though, the Giants will have to get creative to lengthen the lineup.
Friday’s 12-3 win over the Rangers was a big one for a couple of longer-shot options now that Pence will start the season on the DL. Gary Brown hit a deep solo homer late in the game and Jarrett Parker scorched two balls through the wind. Parker — a left-handed hitter who hit a ball over the batter’s eye at Scottsdale Stadium last spring — crushed one off the top of the wall in dead center in the top of the ninth Friday. Bochy took note.
“He should have had two homers to straightaway center off two lefties,” Bochy said, adding that the howling wind cut both balls down.
While prospects impressed Friday, the most likely solution is still the one the Giants have gone with in the past. Bochy mentioned several players aiming for the third starting outfield job and said he’ll go with the hottest hand, but then added that the Giants have had plenty of success with Gregor Blanco in the lineup. Blanco was a starter during the 2012 (for the suspended Melky Cabrera) and 2014 (for the injured Pagan) title runs.
“It’s going to come down to who is going to be out there for the most part,” Bochy said. “That’s a tough position (at AT&T Park), right field. Whoever is playing right field will be out there pretty much every day.”
That seems to indicate Blanco, but there’s one way that could slightly change: Bochy said Blanco and Juan Perez are both strong enough defensively that they could form a right-field platoon. Aoki will get a look in right, too. He met with Bochy on Friday and it’s possible the Giants will put Aoki in right while Pence is out, with someone else temporarily playing left.
“He’s got more experience playing in right field,” Bochy said. “With our right field, there’s a lot of ground to cover, but he’s got the speed to do it.”
The Giants have a month to figure it all out. After that, they’ll have to survive two to four weeks without Pence. The right fielder said he’s confident in his teammates.
“The focus is on the team,” Pence said Friday morning. “The focus is on everything we can to get to the playoffs and chase the dream of winning a World Series. There’s a huge process involved with that. That’s the main focus, is trying to get the most out of each and every one of us.”