SAN FRANCISCO -- Many talent evaluators see Kelby Tomlinson's speed and think "outfielder." Tomlinson's deeds Saturday, which featured an inside-the-park home run and a circus catch in the Giants' 3-2 victory over the Colorado Rockies, screamed "ballplayer."
Tomlinson, San Francisco's primary second baseman since Joe Panik was sidelined with back inflammation, again proved he has the ability to cover great distances quickly and handle fly balls deftly. Sounds like an outfielder in the making.
"I see no reason why it would be a major adjustment for him," Giants manager Bruce Bochy said.
Tomlinson didn't have to adjust during his inside-the-parker, which was the ninth in AT&T Park history and the sixth by a Giant. He just ran.
Facing Colorado starter Chris Rusin with one out in the first inning, Tomlinson lined a 1-1 fastball just beyond the grasp of center fielder Corey Dickerson. The ball continued to elude Dickerson as it rattled around the base of the wall below the 421-foot marker in right-center field.
Meanwhile, Tomlinson accelerated.
"Going to first base, I feel the slowest," he said. "Going around second base, I think I kick it in the most."
As Tomlinson sped home, Dickerson finally corralled the ball and relayed it to second baseman DJ LeMahieu, who threw home from short center field. LeMahieu's peg was accurate, but Tomlinson slid headfirst to beat catcher Tom Murphy's tag.
"Once I saw [third-base coach] Roberto [Kelly] coming down the line, I thought I had a chance," said Tomlinson, who couldn't recall hitting an inside-the-park homer at any level, professional or amateur.
Tomlinson's grab of LeMahieu's popup to end the fourth inning was a triumph over the elements. Buffeted by the breeze, the ball appeared destined to fall safely. But with center fielder Angel Pagan and right fielder Marlon Byrd converging, Tomlinson settled under the ball and made an over-the-shoulder catch.
This prompted more Tomlinson-to-the-outfield talk. Bochy pointed out that since the 25-year-old has handled moving from shortstop to second base with relative ease, he should have enough adaptability for one more switch.
"I think the kid can do it," Bochy said. "He's just a good, all-around ballplayer."