Club has new competition for two spots
Frandsen no longer to be Vizquel's replacement at shortstop
TEMPE, Ariz. -- Competition was renewed Thursday at two positions, as Giants manager Bruce Bochy removed Kevin Frandsen from his tentative starting role at shortstop.Bochy named Frandsen the Opening Day shortstop immediately upon learning on Feb. 26 that Omar Vizquel would need surgery to remove a torn medial meniscus in his left knee. But Frandsen committed three errors in five Cactus League exhibitions, prompting the Giants brain trust to reconsider its decision. Frandsen will return his focus to what had been the most anticipated position tug-of-war entering camp: contending with Ray Durham for the second-base job. Frandsen also will fill in at third base, where he started Thursday as the Angels defeated the Giants, 9-1. Additionally, Frandsen's move creates an opening for a shortstop who likely would man the position for the first week or two of the regular season until Vizquel heals. The candidates are non-roster invitees Brian Bocock, Emmanuel Burriss and Ivan Ochoa. Bocock, who has started three games, would appear to have the early edge based on his glittering defense. Frandsen's status represented an about-face, since Bochy said as recently as Tuesday that the Giants would continue to prepare the 25-year-old to play shortstop. But, said Bochy, "To put all this hard work in at shortstop for possibly one week [of replacing Vizquel] is not fair to Kevin." Bochy delivered the news to Frandsen on Wednesday morning.
"I'm a little disappointed because I wanted that challenge," Frandsen said.But he admitted he felt less comfortable at shortstop, where he started twice in 2006 and 15 times last year. Frandsen also played shortstop in the Minor Leagues and in the 2006 Arizona Fall League. "The way I was feeling at second base, I thought it was going to translate over to shortstop," Frandsen said. "It didn't. ... Going through the whole offseason, I had in the back of my mind, 'Second base, second base, second base,' with a little bit of third. I didn't have the mindset to play shortstop." Frandsen's troubles began to surface against the Cubs last Sunday, when he committed two errors on one play by botching a Kosuke Fukudome grounder, then picking up the ball and flinging it past first base. On Tuesday against the Padres, he mishandled Jim Edmonds' short-hop smash for another error. "I wasn't being athletic out there," Frandsen said. "I was being robotic." There's nothing mechanical about Bocock, who turns 23 on Sunday. Although he has played only two professional seasons and has not risen above Class A, the numerous diving stops he has made -- as well as his steadiness with routine plays, which constitute the baseline for every fielder's performance -- have impressed teammates.
"He picks a ton of stuff. We can see that," right-hander Matt Cain said. "We've heard that he's pretty smart on the bases as well. I like watching him play, because of the intensity he gives."A prime example of this occurred during a delayed-steal attempt in Wednesday's exhibition against Kansas City, as Bocock hurled himself headlong to knock down catcher Steve Holm's throw. "You don't see that very often," Cain said. Bocock's offense could be an issue. He owns a respectable .333 average (5-for-15) so far, but his regular-season performance was uneven last year. A right-handed batter, Bocock batted .292 in 39 games at low Class A Augusta, but only .220 in 87 games at high Class A San Jose. Yet, Bochy's much more concerned with defense from a temporary starting shortstop, particularly one who wields a slick glove.
"You move those guys a little quicker even though they can't do as much offensively," the skipper said.Bocock reacted calmly to his expanded opportunity. "Whether you're playing in A ball or the big leagues, it's the same game. It's just brighter lights," he said. "That's how I've been playing this spring. I haven't been overwhelmed."
Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.