Giants look for ways to boost scoring

Tomlinson prepping for work at second, third, shortstop

Giants look for ways to boost scoring

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Giants manager Bruce Bochy and batting instructor Hensley Meulens presided over the club's first hitters' meeting of the season. It should have been an uneventful occasion, given the Giants' National League-leading .267 batting average last year.

But hitting is not the same as scoring. The Giants scored 696 runs, fifth in the league. They did post a .277 batting average with runners in scoring position, second to Colorado's .279, and led the league by hitting .272 with runners in scoring position and two outs.

As Bochy said, "It's all about trying to get better." The Giants shouldn't have to rely on nine home runs from pitchers -- highlights of which were shown on video during the meeting.

Bochy has exulted over the multiple batting-order possibilties presented by his offensively versatile projected lineup. For instance, he named four players who conceivably could bat second: Brandon Crawford, Angel Pagan, Matt Duffy and Joe Panik. That doesn't include the multiple choices he has to fill other spots.

"I have some pretty good options," Bochy said.

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Kelby Tomlinson expects relatively little trouble as he anticipates a spring in which he's expected to play second base, shortstop and third base, trying to win a utility infielder's role.

Tomlinson played almost exclusively second base in 54 games as a rookie for the Giants last year, though most of his experience as an amateur and professional has been at shortstop.

"Shortstop's not really much of a concern for me, but it's going to take a little bit to get back in rhythm," he said. "Once I do, it should come very natural and be pretty easy."

Tomlinson's outstanding catch

However, Tomlinson's experience at third base has been limited to a smattering of games as a freshman at Texas Tech University, three starts at Triple-A Sacramento last year and three starts in the Rookie-level Arizona League in 2011. Tomlinson acknowledged the challenges of playing this spot.

"Basically the thing I realized last year was that it wsn't necessarily the catching the ball and throwing the ball that was the biggest thing," he said. "It was moving around, knowing the pitchers and hitters, when they're going to hit the ball, when they might bunt, when to lay back, when to play the hole, when to play on the line. Situations -- that was the toughest thing."

Chris Haft is a reporter for 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.