Bochy likes how Giants are shaping up

Bochy likes how Giants are shaping up

LAKE BUENA VISTA, Fla. -- It's way early for Bruce Bochy to mull over his projected Giants lineup for 2007, but that's the nature of the managerial beast and what makes Bochy tick.

So far, the new skipper likes what he sees, especially with the signings of first baseman Rich Aurilia, third sacker Pedro Feliz, second-base veteran Ray Durham and center fielder Dave Roberts the past few days.

Good to have those holes filled, and Bochy envisions other signings over the next few days here and next week.

"We did have some key signings and it looks like the infield is set," said Bochy. "A couple of weeks ago, there were a lot of questions to be answered, and now we're getting some great things done."

But several large gaps remain, the biggest being in left field, where Barry Bonds has dwelled since 1993, and Bochy has no qualms about waving pompoms and encouraging the big fella to rejoin the Giants' ranks.

"Recruit him? Sure, that's probably part of what an organization does to get him to come back," Bochy said Tuesday at the Winter Meetings. "He's wanted here. Haven't a reason not be optimistic [he'll return]."

While managing San Diego, Bochy admitted he did often think how a player of Bonds' caliber would impact his or any other club, even entering his baseball dotage.

"He makes everybody better," said Bochy. "We all get a bit older, that's a fact of life. It's hard for any player to keep up with what he's been doing. But Barry showed in the second half he still has a lot of baseball left.

"He can do amazing things with his bat, and he's still a very productive player. We saw last year he still has bat speed and power."

As for giving him frequent rests or depending on Bonds to tell him whether he's viable a certain day, Bochy said he would not play reruns of last year's game tapes, with Bonds' fragile knees forcing him to skip days and leave games early.

"We'll wait and see what happens," said the new manager.

Bochy explained the club's priorities now are acquiring a starting pitcher and a reliever, although he has already heard good things about three of the team's young arms -- Kevin Correia, Brad Hennessey and Jonathan Sanchez.

Sanchez has been projected as a starter -- "we're leaning slightly that way," he said -- but could also serve in a setup role, while Correia has found a niche in the bullpen.

"That's where everybody feels is the best fit," said Bochy of Correia. "He did a great job last year and did well in important innings. He had success there and you don't want to mess with him."

Hennessey had mixed results as a starter and reliever, but in-house discussions are ongoing.

"[Pitching coach] Dave Righetti and I have talked about what their best roles should be," said Bochy. "We can answer that a bit better in the spring. It's hard to pencil in who's going to start or go to the bullpen."

For Giants fans, Bochy may be a mystery, but he's known in baseball circles -- and on diamonds -- as a "player's manager," and he's not about to change his style now.

Players dictate different strategy, but foremost, Bochy has only one goal -- to win.

"Hopefully we'll be on the aggressive side, and I like players to go out there and play the game right," he said. "That's what's important every time we hit the field. I believe in letting them go, as long as they do things right. I'll stay out of their way."

Bochy, who will travel to San Francisco next week to check out new accommodations, says his transition to the Giants has been relatively easy, but the move was certainly saddened with the death of former Major League pitcher Pat Dobson on Nov. 22 of leukemia.

It was Dobson, a San Diego resident and a scout and special assistant to Giants general manager Brian Sabean the past nine years, who helped clear his path to the new position.

"We talked quite a bit; he was instrumental in getting me to San Francisco," he said. "He flew up with me for the interview, and if he was sick, he didn't let us know. It was a very difficult loss."

Rich Draper is a reporter for MLB.com. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.