Bochy confident 'it's going to be easier' for Hwang

Bochy confident 'it's going to be easier' for Hwang

SCOTTSDALE, Ariz. -- Another day brought another three-run homer that generated a Giants victory.

Granted, none of this slugging actually counted. Nevertheless, two games into the Cactus League season, it appears possible that healthy competition could be developing among the right-handed batters competing for a spot on San Francisco's bench.

Saturday's biggest hit was provided by third baseman Jae-gyun Hwang, whose three-run, sixth-inning homer hastened San Francisco's 8-6 victory over the Chicago Cubs. One inning earlier, right fielder Justin Ruggiano mashed a run-scoring ground-rule double before coming home himself.

All of this happened one day after first baseman-outfielder Chris Marrero hit a three-run walk-off homer in San Francisco's 6-4 triumph over Cincinnati.

Marrero's walk-off home run

Already, Giants manager Bruce Bochy anticipates being forced to make some difficult roster decisions by the end of March, when the roster must be trimmed to its Opening Day limit of 25.

"We have some good candidates in here," Bochy said. "Some good players -- talented players who can do things with the bat and have pop. Keep throwing them out there and you hope they make it hard on you. I'm sure they will."

At third base, for instance, Eduardo Nunez is the projected starter, with Conor Gillaspie serving as the backup. But Hwang, who hit 53 homers in the last two seasons with the Lotte Giants of the Korean Baseball Organization, intrigues San Francisco's braintrust with his power.

After striking out in each of his two at-bats Friday, Hwang's resilience might have been just as impressive as his hitting.

"I'm not worried about him," Bochy said. "He's got a lot of confidence. He carries himself very well. I'm not worried about him. I expect him to have his moments. He doesn't know a lot of these pitchers. That unknown factor, it's a huge advantage for the pitcher over the hitter. But once he gets to know them, you'll see. It's going to be easier for him."

Hwang acknowledged that he might have tried too hard during his United States debut on Friday.

"Typically, I don't really get nervous before games," Hwang said through his interpreter, Mark Min-Hyung Kim. "But for some reason I got a little nervous and jittery at my first at-bat yesterday, so there was a lot of unnecessary power I tried to put on each of my swings. Not all of my swings were as good as I wanted them to be."

Hwang might have appeared destined for another strikeout when he connected with Jim Henderson's 0-2 pitch and drove it over the right-field barrier.

"I didn't think it was going to go over, so I ran as hard as I could to third base, trying to make a triple," Hwang said of his opposite-field clout.

Skeptics might have called it a Cactus League home run, aided by the thin air. Then again, Bochy said, the right man hit it.

"The ball carries here and he's strong," Bochy said. "Once it got up in the air, I figured it was going out."

Chris Haft has covered the Giants since 2005, and for since 2007. 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.