Programming note: For comprehensive Giants coverage from Arizona, watch SportsNet Central tonight at 6 p.m., 10:30 and midnight on Comcast SportsNet Bay Area
SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. — Ehire Adrianza’s defensive ability at shortstop got him to the big leagues, and it’s what still makes him an intriguing player after so many years in the Giants organization. But when Adrianza reported to winter ball, he told his Venezuelan instructors that he wanted to play second base and third.
“I know that’s my role here,” Adrianza said Wednesday.
Adrianza has been around long enough that he can do the math as big league camp opens. Brandon Crawford is the shortstop and Joe Panik is now the longterm second baseman, so Adrianza’s easiest path to a second straight Opening Day roster spot is to show that he can be the best utility option.
The glove won’t be a problem, as Adrianza, a talented defensive shortstop, has shown the ability to handle other spots during previous springs. He started 15 games at second base last season before a pair of right hamstring strains ended his year. To stay in the big leagues, though, Adrianza will have to hit. The Giants believe he’s capable of contributing at the plate, pointing to two stretches as evidence.
Adrianza hit just .237 last season but his slash line was .293/.349/.362 after a start May 27 that kicked off a period of increased playing time. He was 7 for 22 after returning from his first DL stint, and general manager Brian Sabean said the Giants saw a player having much more competitive at-bats. Adrianza played in Venezuela after the season and hit .321 with three homers in 27 games. Anything approaching those hot stretches would make Adrianza an extremely valuable backup to a club that has several players vying for bench jobs.
“We have three, four guys who can (play shortstop), but he’s a really good shortstop,” manager Bruce Bochy said. “It certainly adds value to a player like A.D. He’s a switch-hitter who can play shortstop and do it everyday and really do a nice job.”
Adrianza is competing primarily with Joaquin Arias and Matt Duffy, both of whom can move around the infield. While Duffy is the longest shot given that he has minor league options remaining and hasn’t played a game at Triple-A yet, Arias benefits from the fact that he’s guaranteed $1.45 million in the second year of a two-year contract he signed last January.
“I want to earn that job,” said Adrianza, who is also out of options. “That’s what I’m here for.”
“Here” would be Scottsdale Stadium, and it’s a familiar place for Adrianza at this point. He has been in big league camp since 2010 but remains just 25 years old. He’s still learning, and he said this offseason he worked hard to strengthen his legs, hoping to prevent another hamstring issue. Adrianza was actually healthy by the end of the regular season, and he traveled with the Giants in October, staying ready just in case an infielder got hurt. As much fun as it was to be there for a title run, October was a difficult month at times.
“When I made the team (out of spring training), that was my goal,” he said. “My goal was to play and to help them get to the playoffs and win a championship.”
If Adrianza can get back in a groove at the plate, he’ll get a second chance to do just that.
HEALTH WATCH: Catcher Andrew Susac missed the morning workout, but this was no day off. As the Giants took the field, Susac tweeted: “Well root canals are no fun …”
STOCK UP: The kids.
Bochy spent most of the day on the back field watching the prospects invited to camp, and he came away impressed. “These kids look good,” he said. “The kids are getting after it back there.” Bochy didn’t want to single any players out as standing above the rest, but we’ll get a chance to make our own judgements soon. The Giants are planning to hold a scrimmage sometime this weekend.
AROUND ARIZONA: Over on the other side of town, Chad Gaudin reported to Dodgers camp on a minor league deal. Gaudin hasn’t pitched since 2013, when he had a 3.06 ERA and proved to be a revelation for the Giants. An arm injury ended his season and the Giants never made a move on Gaudin that winter, mostly because there were serious concerns about his health. Of course, there was also that odd Las Vegas arrest hanging over everything. Per Dodgers reporter Eric Stephen, Gaudin said "It's all past and gone” when asked about the alleged groping incident at a Las Vegas hospital. According to the Dodgers beat guys, Gaudin is in camp in a familiar role: long relief/Triple-A starting depth.
QUOTABLE: Our Comcast crew put together a story on the massive trucks in the players lot, and naturally, Jeremy Affeldt gave a money quote. Here he is on Erik Cordier’s truck, the biggest one in the lot.
“We drive man trucks, you know? We have guys that drive them. I personally don’t have to show mine off. I leave mine up in Spokane, but you know, when he drove his in it was a 1500. I felt like you shouldn’t even drive it to the ballpark if that’s the one you’re going to drive in. He kind of was upset about it and thought he had a really nice truck and we wore him out. It was like almost taking candy from a kid. You basically hook-line-and-sunk him where you just ragged him hard enough he went and got a 350.
“Now he went overboard. It’s too much truck. It’s almost like, good luck parking that in San Fran. It’s really good, now he just went way extreme the other way. He fell for it just like we thought he would. He went high, high, high on the truck and Bum obviously had to go one more and get the 450. Bum uses his truck like a truck, though. He’s got hay and horses and he probably throws a couple cows in the back and stuff like that.”
No word on if these trucks have “technology and stuff.”
Alex Pavlovic will appear on Yahoo SportsTalk Live tonight at 5, 7 p.m. and 11 to discuss all things Giants at spring training.