Leake excited to join Giants; will start Sunday

Leake excited to join Giants; will start Sunday

ARLINGTON -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy marveled at Mike Leake's athletic ability.

"You could play him somewhere on the field [at a position]," Bochy said Friday.

For the immediate future, Bochy wants Leake to excel merely on the mound. The right-hander, San Francisco's prize Trade Deadline acquisition who was plucked from the Cincinnati Reds late Thursday, will make his initial start for the Giants in Sunday's series finale against the Texas Rangers. Chris Heston, initially scheduled to pitch Sunday, will start Saturday.

Leake, who grew up in the San Diego area, played on a traveling Little League team with Bochy's son, Brett. That's when the elder Bochy noticed the wiry right-hander.

"When he started out, he was the best player on the field," Bruce Bochy said.

Leake, 27, maintains similar admiration for his new teammates, whom he joined at Globe Life Park less than 24 hours after the deal was announced. Three World Series titles in five years have a tendency to command respect.

"There's a bunch of proven players here," Leake said. "It'll be fun to learn from them, sit back and watch them play baseball."

Leake, who finished 9-5 with a 3.56 ERA in 21 starts for Cincinnati, looked forward to capitalizing on AT&T Park's pitcher-friendly dimensions.

"I think it definitely helps with the ability to attack hitters a little bit more," said Leake, who lacks overpowering stuff but prompts mostly harmless contact. "I just try to pound my spots as much as I can."

Leake admitted he felt somewhat "shocked" to join the Giants. He believed that he was bound for an American League East outpost. But the Giants won the bidding with their offer of pitching prospect Keury Mella and slugging infielder Adam Duvall.

Upon joining a new organization, Leake was obliged to answer questions about a 2011 incident in which he was arrested and charged with misdemeanor theft, accused of stealing $59.98 worth of T-shirts. Leake's charges ultimately were reduced from theft to unauthorized use of property, and he was accepted into a diversion program that included 30 hours of community service and counseling.

"It was a learning curve," Leake said. "By no means was it a theft. It was a mishandling of T-shirts. I went to exchange them, and I exchanged them the improper way."

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.