Duffy wins Giants' award for spring newcomer

Infielder battling for reserve spot on Major League roster

Duffy wins Giants' award for spring newcomer

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants infielder Matt Duffy appreciated winning the Barney Nugent Award on Tuesday, though he's preoccupied with more pressing issues these days.

Duffy, 24, is competing for a reserve infielder's role on the Giants' season-opening roster. Though Duffy has outperformed his two closest rivals for the job, Ehire Adrianza and Joaquin Arias, they have no Minor League options left. Duffy does. To preserve personnel depth, the Giants likely might option Duffy, who was batting .385 through Tuesday, to Triple-A Sacramento. Meanwhile, Adrianza (.244 this spring) and Arias (.167) would remain with San Francisco.

The award goes to the player in his first Major League camp whose performance and dedication in Spring Training best exemplifies the spirit of the club -- as was the case with Nugent, a former Giants athletic trainer who died of cancer in February 2014. Until this year, the award had been named for ex-Giants athletic trainer Harry K. Jordan.

In an odd twist, Duffy already has won a World Series ring with the Giants, who summoned him from Double-A Richmond last Aug. 1. Typically, the award's recipients, who are selected in a vote among players, coaches and training staff, have little or no Major League experience, though the list of previous winners includes Russ Ortiz (1998), Tim Lincecum (2007) and Brandon Belt (2011).

Duffy, ranked as the team's No. 8 prospect by MLB.com, spoke realistically about the Giants' roster riddle.

"I understand that there are a lot of other things involved," Duffy said, "and I also understand the biggest thing is that I can't control that."

Top Prospects: Duffy, SF

Regardless of what happens, Duffy said, "I'm going to make it into an opportunitiy to improve and learn and build on things to get better at helping the team win games."

Duffy did exactly that minutes before being informed about the award. He took ground balls at shortstop, his natural position, as well as second and third base. Noting that he played exclusively shortstop early in his three-year professional career, Duffy said that he's "working overtime to make up for that right now."

Chris Haft is a reporter for MLB.com. Read his blog, Haft-Baked Ideas, and follow him on Twitter at @sfgiantsbeat. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.