Still learning at third, Duffy provides pop

Giants get key homer from rookie infielder new to hot corner

Still learning at third, Duffy provides pop

MILWAUKEE -- Matt Duffy calmly and graciously contemplated the possibility of Casey McGehee's return to third base. Should Duffy duplicate Tuesday's performance a few more times, however, no changes at the hot corner are imminent.

Duffy contributed heavily to the Giants' 6-3 victory over the Milwaukee Brewers with a two-run homer that highlighted a three-run fourth inning and lengthened San Francisco's lead to 5-1. It gave the rookie 15 RBIs in his last 16 games and hiked his batting average with runners in scoring position to a team-high .429 (15-for-35). Duffy's third homer of the season, a first-pitch drive off Brewers starter Matt Garza, traveled an estimated 408 feet over the center-field wall. That might seem like a prodigious poke from such a slender individual. But the Giants know better.

"He's stronger than a lot of people think," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said after the club's 10th victory in 12 games. "He might weigh 160 pounds. But he has a lot of pop."

Duffy, who happens to be listed at 170, also endured a challenging moment when he tried to short-hop Khris Davis' tricky sixth-inning grounder and played it into a single. It's worth remembering that this was Duffy's 22nd career Major League game at third base, all this year. He played three games there last season at Double-A Richmond.

"He's going to get better at third," Bochy said. "It's going to be a long process for him with reading hops and positioning, but he has a good arm and he's athletic."

Duffy's nice play

Duffy's also clear-minded, particularly after receiving McGehee's blessing. After the Giants designated McGehee for assignment Sunday in Denver, the veteran spoke privately to Duffy and urged him to feel no remorse about taking his job.

"He just wanted to make sure I knew there were no bad feelings, going forward without too much weighing on [me]," said Duffy, adding that McGehee also advised him constantly about playing third. "That speaks to the person he is."

With McGehee accepting his assignment to Triple-A Sacramento, the chance exists that he could return to San Francisco. That possibility didn't faze Duffy in the least. In fact, he'd welcome McGehee's presence.

"So many things can happen between now and September or October. Or tomorrow," Duffy said. "We understand that we're going to need everybody. The more depth that we have, the better, whether he comes back and takes over the starting role or is on the bench."

Recently, it has become difficult to fathom anybody replacing Duffy in the Giants' lineup.

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