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02/23/09 7:16 PM EST

Velez to see time in outfield

Giants skipper wants slimmer Sandoval; Lincecum battles pink eye

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Manager Bruce Bochy's announcement Monday that Eugenio Velez will spend time in the outfield besides competing at second base intensified the scramble for reserve spots on the Opening Day roster.

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Velez started eight games last year in the outfield -- four in each corner -- so Bochy's decision wasn't surprising. In an attempt to diversify Velez's skills, Bochy said that the 26-year-old will play mostly center when he's sent to the outfield in Cactus League games.

Asked if Velez was being envisioned as a utilityman as well as a contender with Kevin Frandsen and Emmanuel Burriss at second, Bochy said, "I wouldn't say it's wrong to assume that. We want to keep the options open with him."

Velez's speed and switch-hitting ability make him a potentially handy reserve. He'd be more useful if he could master multiple positions, although defense previously has challenged him.

If Velez proves that he can handle the outfield, he might render veteran Dave Roberts expendable, since the Giants then could begin the season with just four outfielders instead of the usual complement of five. Fred Lewis, Aaron Rowand, Randy Winn and Nate Schierholtz are currently projected as the club's top outfield quartet.

The scrutiny of Velez won't begin with Wednesday's Cactus League opener against Cleveland. Bochy said that he'll need a few days to regain strength after enduring flu-like symptoms along with numerous other Giants. Most stricken players have recovered, though infielder Rich Aurilia remained ill and was absent Monday.

Bochy also mentioned that third baseman Pablo Sandoval must play and condition himself until he reaches a more optimal weight. Sandoval, who's listed at 246 pounds, has looked spry defensively in workouts, but Bochy wants him trimmer to enhance his endurance and quickness.

As previously announced, left-handers Randy Johnson and Barry Zito will be among the pitchers to appear in Tuesday's three-inning intrasquad game. They'll be joined by left-hander Pat Misch and right-handers Waldis Joaquin, Joseph Martinez and Henry Sosa. Teams will be composed mostly of younger players and non-roster invitees.

Tim Lincecum, who left Sunday's workout early with a case of pink eye, was feeling fine and remains scheduled to start against Cleveland. Matt Cain will start Thursday's home exhibition opener against the Dodgers before Johnson and Jonathan Sanchez face Kansas City on Friday.

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.