Young Giants could play key roles for San Francisco

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Brandon Crawford impressed the Giants with his fielding in 2011
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With the football season over and the Warriors just trying to stay out of last place, the Giants are once again becoming the focus of sports fans in the Bay Area.

While the team was unable to defend its 2010 World Series title last season, manager Bruce Bochy said the team remains committed to making another go of it in 2012. Whichever of the team’s young prospects find playing time on the field will reflect just that.

“Players really determine their playing time,” Bochy told The
San Francisco Examiner recently. “We’re here to win, so we’re going to put [together] the best club that gives us a chance to win. Sometimes you understand it takes a longer leash for these guys to show their talents.”

One player who has been assured of getting the first crack at starting is shortstop Brandon Crawford, who made a splash last year when he hit a grand slam for his first major league hit and showed off a flashy glove in the field.

His bat fizzled out as the season wore on, though, finishing his rookie campaign with a .204 batting average with three home runs and 21 RBIs in 66 games. The Giants also added veteran infielder Ryan Theriot in the offseason. But Bochy said Crawford’s defense earned him a spot.

“We just want him to go out there and play a nice shortstop and do what he can to contribute with the bat,” he said. “He’s going to get his consistent playing time, so he should have that to look forward to.”

Another position that seems up for grabs is first base, where the club seems to have more players than it can use. While Aubrey Huff will look to rebound from a disappointing 2011, Brandon Belt is waiting in the wings, and Brett Pill could easily be considered a dark horse after hitting .300 and slugging .560 in just 15 games last year.

Pill said he still expects to have to earn a spot though.

“You can kind of do the math and see what spots are left,” he said. “Hopefully, I can go [out] there and have a good spring and see what they decide.”

Bochy didn’t rule out the possibility.

“We brought him up and he made a lot of noise,” Bochy said. “So he’ll be competing for a spot on our club, but he does give us the possibility of having a right-handed bat, maybe even playing in the outfield.”

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