PITTSBURGH -- As Bobby Evans settled onto the bench at PNC Park to address his latest move, manager Bruce Bochy called out from the field.
“Good work, Bobby,” Bochy said, smiling.
Evans gave Bochy a much-needed outfielder and bench option Thursday, swinging another deal with the Cincinnati Reds to acquire veteran Marlon Byrd. The Giants traded Double-A right-hander Stephen Johnson for Byrd, who talked to Bochy on the phone and said he would arrive in time to play Friday.
[NEWS: Giants trade for OF Marlon Byrd]
Bochy plans to play Byrd in left field for now, with Nori Aoki switching back to right field -- the position he played for the Kansas City Royals last season. Byrd will hit fifth or sixth for now and will become a bench bat when Hunter Pence returns from a strained oblique next month.
[NEWS: Pence placed on DL]
“I’m excited to have Marlon,” Bochy said. “I really respect how he plays the game. He’s excited about coming here. It’s fair to say we could use some help and experience, and he supplies that.”
Playing without Aoki, Pence and Angel Pagan on Wednesday, Bochy chose to use Madison Bumgarner as his big bat off the bench. He said it’s something he “wasn’t excited about, putting him up there.”
“I always have a little fear” of injury, Bochy said.
Still, the Bumgarner pinch-hit appearance wasn’t the moment that led to the Byrd deal. Evans said he talked to the Reds weeks ago, but called them again when it was clear that Pence would miss at least two weeks. The deal came together quickly Thursday afternoon.
“I thought with Hunter getting hurt, even though we’ve been in contact with a number of options, it really sped up the timetable,” Evans said. “Marlon is a professional in every sense of the word and he’s tough on lefties.”
Byrd is hitting just .237 this season with a .286 on-base percentage, but he has 19 homers and the line jumps to .280/.344/.500 against left-handers. The Giants are on the hook for just a fraction of the remaining $2 million or so left on Byrd’s deal, and he is unlikely to get enough plate appearances to trigger an $8 million option. Byrd will be the 40th player on the 40-man roster, and Ryan Lollis is the leading candidate to get optioned back to Triple-A to clear a spot on the active roster.
Byrd is the second player acquired from the Reds recently, joining right-hander Mike Leake, who is expected to come off the disabled list this weekend. The Giants are leaning toward sliding Leake into Chris Heston’s spot, which would allow the scuffling rookie to regroup before rosters expand in September. Ryan Vogelsong and Matt Cain would remain in the rotation.
[RELATED: Leake set to return this weekend]
Leake said Byrd is a hard worker who “takes his craft seriously.”
“He’ll be eager to jump in here and be a full participant,” Leake said. “He’s been around for a reason. He’s got pop. He’s got some old-man strength in him still.”
Evans said he will continue to look at depth options, but the Giants now feel relatively set in the outfield and they feel better about second base than they did a week ago. Kelby Tomlinson is hitting .355 since being promoted.
“From our standpoint, certainly he has lightened the concern without (Joe) Panik,” Evans said.