Nunez getting comfortable in left field

Nunez getting comfortable in left field

SAN FRANCISCO -- Manager Bruce Bochy fully expects Eduardo Nunez to experience a few growing pains as he adjusts to being the Giants' everyday left fielder.

That process appears to be progressing more rapidly than initially thought, a point that was emphasized when Nunez came up with his second defensive gem this week during San Francisco's 8-3 win over the Cincinnati Reds on Sunday.

Nunez ended the third inning with a tumbling catch on Adam Duvall's sinking liner that started to tail away, stalling a critical scoring chance for the Reds while stranding runners at first and second.

That came on the heels of Nunez's best defensive play of the season two days earlier when he sprinted into the Giants bullpen to make a one-handed catch in foul territory. Nunez had to jump slightly to get over the mound while making the catch but fell on his back and held on.

Must C: Nunez's fantastic grab

"That shows you how athletic he is," Bochy said. "He got a little discombobulated when he was going for the ball when he hit that mound but yet he had the ability to get the glove on the ball and make the catch. It's all about wanting to do it, and that's where he's at. He wants to do just what's best for the club, so he's all for it."

Nunez was acquired in a trade from Minnesota last July to help plug a gap at third base. He began this season as San Francisco's Opening Day third baseman then split time at shortstop after Brandon Crawford went down with an injury.

With Crawford back and rookie Christian Arroyo settling in at third base, the Giants shifted Nunez to the outfield with the hope of solving their season-long issue in left.

"We think he's got the ability to handle this role," Bochy said. "Now, he hasn't played a lot of left field. We know occasionally we're going to have some growing pains there. He's working hard. The ball right at him is the one he's trying to get used to. That's the one that gives him the toughest time but he's got the speed, he's got the athletic ability to handle this role."

Nunez did more than just play good defense against the Reds. He chipped in at the plate, too, with a two-run single off Reds starter Tim Adleman to cap San Francisco's four-run first inning. Nunez also singled leading off the fourth then stole two bases before getting stranded at third.

Nunez steals two in the 5th

It's his defense, though, that remains the Giants' primary concern.

With the season in full swing, Nunez hasn't had a lot of time to become comfortable in his new surroundings. San Francisco's coaching staff has tried to make the transition as easy as possible, although that has been easier said than done at times.

"The thing that he's got to remember, the difference probably, especially playing third, that's more you're reacting," Bochy explained. "Left field, you can't glide to the ball. You have to run to it. That's what he's trying to get used to. You have a tendency, when the ball's hit, you kind of pace yourself to it. We want him to get to the spot.

"He's got the speed to cover a lot of ground and when you're not comfortable in a defensive position where you normally would play, it's a little bit of an adjustment. Let's take advantage of what he has, and that's speed and that's by getting to the ball and then making the adjustment."

Michael Wagaman is a contributor to MLB.com based in the Bay Area. This story was not subject to the approval of Major League Baseball or its clubs.